I don’t know about you, but I’m more than ready to say good riddance to all the nonsense that transpired in 2017. Reflecting on such events also made me wonder what we all might be able to do to make 2018 a bit more manageable for ourselves, so take a look at some of my tips and feel free to add your own in the comments below!
Monitor your news intake.
I struggled greatly this past year between wanting to be informed yet dreading the idea of reading about another sexual harassment case or riot. So, I read the news sparingly and allowed myself to be a bit less informed for awhile for the sake of my sanity. This is a privileged position to be in—to select when I do or do not want to participate in negative events—but it was enormously helpful to me for a period of time. For you, perhaps this might mean unfollowing news outlets on Twitter or narrowing the window during which you read the news to half an hour a day. Whatever works.
2. Clean up that Instagram feed.
As a therapist-in-training, I hear about people struggling with comparison a lot. One of the main sources of distress is Instagram, especially with young people. If you’re solely following models who are stick-thin (and photoshopped), your idea of a “normal body” might change and you’ll become hard on yourself, for example. Instead of following people/things that make you feel bad about yourself, transform your feed into something that makes you smile. Follow puppies, inspirational quotes, body-positive individuals, etc.
3. Make your bed.
A recent survey showed that one of the main, small habits that led to an increase in peoples’ mood was making their bed. You know the expression: messy bed, messy head! If your bed is well-made, it makes you feel just a little bit more put together. Take those extra 2 - 3 minutes in the morning to do this each and every morning no matter what.
4. For the love of God, get more sleep.
Sleep helps everything, from your mood, weight, skin, and beyond. Start following an actual sleep schedule that gives you a minimum of eight hours of shut-eye. If you have an iPhone, you can actually use it to get back on a sleep schedule by opening the Clock app, hitting “Bedtime,” and setting when you’d like to go to bed and wake up.
5. Vow to cook more at home.
Try to meal prep as much as you can and make a promise to cook three or more nights a week at home at the very least.
6. Find a brand new hobby.
As many of you know, I took up a pottery class for the first time this year, which I absolutely loved since it was completely different from my job as a therapist-in-training. Therapy is a slow, slow process that lacks any tangible results, but pottery was just the opposite; I could see my progress each time and finished the course with mugs, bowls, and vases to admire! It’s amazing to watch yourself learning something new just for fun, so whether it’s taking up knitting, painting, cooking, calligraphy, or finding a book club, find something that’s totally different from your everyday routine.
7. Stop with the “should’s.”
I bet there’s a huge list of things you feel you “should” do. I should go to the gym and do that workout that I hate. I should go for coffee with that friend I really have nothing in common with any more. If you could replace those “should’s” with things you actually enjoy doing, what would those things be? If you hate group exercise classes, for example, start trying solo weight training or rock climbing instead. If you are finding talking to your friend from high school is more painful than ever now, perhaps it’s a sign to focus your attention on newer friendships that are more mutually satisfying. If you’re dreading doing a lot of things, it’s likely a sign you need to fill your time doing things you actually like.
8. Give back.
Whenever people are down in the dumps, a surefire way for them to feel a little less hopeless is to give back. A study by UnitedHealth Group found that a whopping 94% of people who volunteered in the last 12 months said volunteering improved their mood. Additionally, 96% said volunteering enriched their purpose in life and almost 80% said volunteering lowered their stress levels. I find that the key with volunteering is to find a cause you’re truly passionate about. So, if you’re a feminist, volunteer for something that supports women’s health or wellness. If animals are more your thing, try volunteering for an animal shelter or dog-walking service. For a list of more options, click here.
9. Ditch one unhealthy habit.
Maybe that morning White Mocha from Starbucks is costing a lot more for your health and wallet than is should. Or your daily weigh-ins have caused you to become paranoid about your weight. Or maybe you just don’t speak very nicely to yourself. Whatever it is, think of just one unhealthy habit you have and think of the smallest thing you can do to be healthier.
10. Stop sweating the small stuff.
People with anxiety especially have a tendency to blow things out of proportion. If this is you, I know for a fact that your intentions are good—you just want to be prepared, right!?—but I also know that this can really wreak havoc on your life and relationships. The next time you go analyzing the smallest things, zoom out and think of the bigger picture. Will this thing matter in three weeks? Three months? Probably not. So don’t sweat the small stuff and pick your battles.
You Tell Me!
What are you going to do differently in 2018 to become more healthier, mentally and/or physically? Let me know in the comments below!