December is a roller coaster of a month. On the one hand, it’s the holidays! That means gifts, delicious treats, time spent with family (and away from work) and lots of celebrations.
On the other hand, it’s also the end of another year. You may not like what you see when you reflect on what you’ve done – or failed to do. You likely have deadlines, budgets and more work to do (with fewer co-workers, thanks to vacation time), and the pressure is on to get it all done.
No matter whether you’re at the top of the ride or hurtling towards the ground as the coaster drops, you’re likely thinking about what comes next, right?
I truly believe that there’s no time like the present to make a change. Sure, resolutions are a great reminder that a new year is ahead, and if that’s what helps you make healthy changes, I’m all in. But too many people either wait until January 1 and practice unhealthy behaviors in preparation for the change (“I’d better eat all of these desserts now because I won’t be able to in a few weeks!”) or they put so much pressure on that date that when challenges come – and they will – they succumb to them and feel as if the whole thing was a failure instead of just picking up and trying again the next day.
Honestly, if I could, I’d move New Year’s Resolutions to the middle of May when there are fewer holidays and other big celebrations to worry about!
As we head into the month of December, I encourage you to try one or all of these 31 ways to get healthy (or healthier, at least) right now. Try one a day for 31 days or as many as you can from day one and then work to sustain them.
- Try to get 10,000 steps a day. I track my activity and sleep with a Fitbit, and there are other good and fairly inexpensive options.
- Strength train at least once a week. More is better, but once gets you into the habit.
- Trade sugary drinks for water. If you drink more than one sugary drink – a soda or a fancy coffee – trade out as many as you can, but at least one.
- 80/20 rule: 80% of the time, make smart, healthy choices and 20% of the time, let yourself loose a little more to enjoy a special treat.
- Meatless Mondays! There are so many amazing plant-based recipes and foods. If you can swap out one day of eating meat and embrace alternative protein and food sources, you’ll help your body and the environment.
- More leafy greens. Can’t stand the idea of a kale salad or sauteed spinach? Try putting the greens into your smoothies (I promise, you can’t taste it!) or into a baked pasta dish.
- Meal prep so that you aren’t scrambling to make meals each night and tempting yourself with packaged or fast foods.
- Try one new food a week. Sure, I’d love this to be something super healthy but if you can expand your palette even a little bit, it will also expand your mind and make you more open to other new things.
- Get (or set) your annual physical. It can make such a big difference in your current health – and even inform how well you age in the years ahead!
- Start a daily gratitude journal. Don’t overthink it: a short sentence or even a single word is fine; “my cat” or “a crackling fire” for example.
- Meditate. Again, would I love for you to spend 15-30 minutes a day in a guided journey? Of course! But start slow. Five minutes in a quiet room with some peaceful music, or silence, if you prefer.
- Subscribe to a new podcast. Find one that makes you laugh, makes you think or makes you see things from a different perspective.
- Set an earlier bedtime. Sleep helps your body, of course, but it also has a major impact on your ability to concentrate and think during the day.
- Trade nighttime TV for books. Again, every night would be great but at the very least, pick one night where you can keep the small screen off and crack a book instead.
- Do crossword puzzles or Sudoku. These brain games really keep things healthy and active.
- Color! Adult coloring books are so wonderful for helping focus the brain and de-stress.
- Watch an inspirational video or attend an event in person!
- Quit one bad habit. Maybe you’re biting your nails, maybe you smoke, or maybe you eat too much sugar. Tackle that habit and not only will your body thank you, your mind will feel cleaner (and you’ll feel less guilty about something you know you shouldn’t be doing.)
- Track your time. Whether it’s with an online tool or just by looking at your clock, see where you spend your time through the day. If you find that you can make something more efficient or even cut it out altogether, try it!
- Declutter your house. Having fewer things and putting the things you keep in their proper places immediately makes you feel calmer.
- List your 2017 goals.
- Make a dream or vision board. A digital one or a real one that you can put near your desk or in your home to keep those dreams in front of you at all times.
- Surprise someone with a compliment.
- Create a great playlist. Listening to music can lower blood pressure and ease anxiety!
- Start saying NO to things and people that don’t fulfill you or make you happy.
- Create a better to-do list. This is the time to get organized with a planner or some other system that helps you feel in control the moment you get to work.
- Laugh out loud. (Try it! It’s so cathartic.)
- Take an extra day off, if you can. Instead of working or doing something productive that day, do something fun. Go to the playground and swing (even as an adult, it’s one of my favorite de-stressing activities.) Ride your bike. Go see a movie. Nap!
- Say you’re sorry. And mean it. Mend fences with someone and even if you don’t totally rekindle that friendship, it clears it from your mind and soul.
And number 31? It’s the most important:
Look into the mirror, every single day and say: “You are worth it.”
Nobody has to hear or see you. It’s OK if it feels silly or you even laugh at yourself. After 31 days, you will believe it. Or you’ll be on your way to believing it. Because you are worth it.
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