Happy New Year everyone, and welcome back to Wellness Wednesday! Wow – can you believe it’s a new year already???!!!
Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions? For some of us they can be helpful, but for others, they just feel like we’re putting more pressure on ourselves. Though I don’t make resolutions, I do always take stock of how I did with the previous year’s goals and set new goals for the upcoming year.
When it comes to wellness, it’s helpful to have a plan, but even if we don’t, there are small things we can do to improve our wellness throughout the year.
Of course, we don’t want to attempt to do everything at once; if we do, we run the risk of becoming overwhelmed and giving up completely. We can simply choose one small thing to concentrate on at a time and once we have developed that habit, we can add another one. Before we know it, we’ve established healthy habits and improved our wellness fairly easily and painlessly.
20 Small Things To Improve Wellness
To simplify things, I’ve broken them down into the eight dimensions of wellness. Since all the dimensions overlap, some that are helpful in one dimension might benefit other areas as well.
- Learn to recognize ANTs. As we discussed in Lessons From The Carrot Patch, ANTs are Automatic Negative Thoughts. This term was coined by Dr. Daniel Amen, founder of the Amen Clinic and author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life. These ANTs are the thoughts that pop up and make their way into our brains (and into our bodies via chemical changes) before we even realize we’re having them. As we’ve discussed before, our automatic thoughts can’t always be trusted. They don’t always tell the truth.
- Start a gratitude journal. According to Harvard Health, “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
- Try meditation. More and more studies are showing the benefits of meditation. Whether it’s Mindfulness Meditation or Christian Meditation, learning to calm our anxious thoughts and focus on the present helps us to stop being ruled by our emotions.
- Organize your pantry. Having an organized pantry sets us up for success when we’re trying to eat more healthfully.
- Use less-toxic cleaning supplies and ditch those chemical-laden air fresheners. We can have a clean home without using a bunch of chemicals. We used to have to choose between natural and effective, but not anymore. Companies are listening to what people want and are making more natural options that really work.
- Make a spending plan. As we discussed in Does Budgeting Have To Be Such A Pain, we get to tell our money where to go. Our spending plan is our tool for doing that.
- Pay yourself first. Each month, put a portion of your paycheck, even if it’s only a few dollars, into a savings account. Having a ‘cushion’ in case of emergencies is vital. Having money set aside can keep us from going into debt when we have things like unexpected car repairs, an HVAC unit that goes out, etc.
- Learn something new. Learning new things, whether it’s a new game, hobby, or skill, can help our brains make new connections, which contributes to overall brain health.
- Read. Reading can help expand our horizons, teach us something new, or engage our brains in problem solving.
- Purposefully look for meaning in your work. Remember, any kind of work, paid or unpaid, can be meaningful. No matter what type of work we do, we have the potential to improve both our lives and the lives of others through small, intentional actions.
- Intentionally seek balance between your work and home life. It’s easy to get caught up in the “rat race” and allow our personal lives to be pushed aside, but we need to remember to look at the big picture of what’s most important to us.
- Add one serving of vegetables to your daily diet. Vegetables are little powerhouses of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Even adding one serving can make a difference.
- Read food labels. Know what you’re putting in your body. With so many “food-like substances” on our store shelves these days reading labels is our best way of knowing exactly what we’re eating.
- Make a meal plan. Planning our meals ahead of time can help ensure we’re getting all the nutrients we need and keep us from stopping at the drive-through because we don’t know what to cook for dinner. You can find a meal-planning template here.
- Make it a point to get up and move around each hour. We’ve all heard the saying that sitting is the new smoking. Making an intentional effort to move around at least a few minutes each hour can help reduce the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
- Talk to a friend on a regular basis. With the busy lives that we lead it’s easy to lose connection with our friends. Making an “appointment” to talk to our friends regularly can help us maintain those relationships that are important to us.
- Surround yourself with positive people. Whether we’re actually going out and mingling with people or we’re interacting with them online, we have to be careful who we surround ourselves with. Hanging out with negative people usually results in us becoming more negative as well.
- Volunteer. Spiritual health is defined as expanding a sense of purpose and meaning in life, so volunteering for a cause that’s important to us can give us that sense of purpose and meaning.
- Set aside time each day to connect with God. As with any other relationship, if we want to have a relationship with our Creator, we have to be purposeful in cultivating that relationship.
- Memorize Scripture. When we’re going through the stresses and struggles of life, being able to remember Scriptures that apply to our situation can give us hope and comfort, and even help calm us when we become anxious.
These are just some of the small things we can do to improve our overall wellness this year. The important thing to remember is that we don’t have to make big changes to make a positive difference in our wellness. Small, sustainable steps we can build on are much better than huge changes that we can’t maintain.
Do you plan to make any wellness changes this year? What area of wellness would you most like to improve? Please share!