Wellness encapsulates so much, and we’re using it as a catch-all here—we wanted to start off the month thinking about some areas that don’t always get a ton of attention, but matter a whole lot for our overall health. Sleep, socializing, treating yourself with kindness—thinking about your health as one big puzzle with lots of little pieces that work best when they fit together. This week will set you up to approach the more specific upcoming themes a bit differently.
1. TAKE INVENTORY
The new year is the perfect time to reflect on your life holistically: what’s making you feel good and what could use some improvement? This is the time to be really real with yourself in a mindful way. Jot down some small goals and hurdles, what your usual pitfalls are, what has made your body and mind feel strong and healthy in the past and how you can get back there. Taking this time to reflect will help you visualize and stick with new habits in the coming weeks.
MINI CHALLENGE: Write down 3 quick wins you could change today and commit to. (Like cutting that second cup of coffee.) Now write down 3 things you’d like to change that require some more planning. (Like starting a new workout routine.)
2. SET YOURSELF UP FOR GOOD SLEEP
Sleep is essential. Seriously. Stress can affect sleep, and lack of sleep can cause increases in stress hormones, which can lead to overeating and cravings. You definitely don’t want to get caught in that vicious cycle. There are lots of ways to get your sleep on track (or track your sleep!), from having a consistent bedtime and wake-up time (set an alarm for both) to creating a wind-down routine (fewer memes, more ZZZs).
MINI CHALLENGE: Carve out time to get 30 more minutes of sleep a night for a week. Every single night. How do you feel after 7 days of more sleep?
3. GET SOCIAL
The health benefits of having social support are numerous, linked to lower risk of cardiovascular disease, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and more. Create group activities on your terms and within your schedule: start a book club, join a rec league, make a standing movie date with your favorite cinephile. Prioritize your feelings of connectivity and community. They really do matter.
4. REDISCOVER YOUR INNER KID
Think back to when you were 8. What was something you really loved doing? Drawing, kickball, karate, baking? Chances are, your health could benefit from revisiting your old love in a new way. Even if it just means finding adult ways to be silly, run around, explore, or nurture your sense of adventure. (Now we feel like roller skating!)
MINI CHALLENGE: Lacking inspiration? Ask a relative or childhood friend what they remember being your favorite thing as a kid. (Tetris counts. Buy a puzzle!)
5. TREAT YOURSELF
It’s easy to get wrapped up in taking care of others, and it’s important to make space for our own needs. A lot of times, we treat ourselves with food—and there’s nothing wrong with planning a cheat treat (more on that next week). But challenge yourself to think about ways to treat yourself that are about increasing your happiness without impacting your good habits. They don’t have to be tied to anything—doing them just because is half the fun. Consider it a balance for all the work you’ll be doing in other areas, like building new habits—the kinder you are to yourself, the more likely you are to stay motivated for the hard stuff.
MINI CHALLENGE: Make a list of treats that take less than an hour and cost less than $20. Commit to doing one a week for the next month.
6. REDUCE YOUR SCREEN TIME
While reducing screen time in general is an admirable goal, reducing before bed is even more important. Blue light produced by screens can disturb your circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle), meaning you could have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep (and might feel extra groggy in the morning). We suggested setting a bedtime alarm above, and you can apply the same concept here: try setting a cutoff time 30 minutes before bed, where you meditate or read before bed instead of watching TV or scrolling through Instagram. Slowly build up to an hour and see how you feel.
MINI CHALLENGE: Try sleeping with your phone across (or out of) the room for a week. You’ll be less likely to check it both during the night and first thing when you wake up.
7. MINIMIZE. SIMPLIFY.
Have you ever noticed how calm you feel after you clean up your home or office, make your bed, or donate a bunch of stuff you weren’t using anyway? There are ties between outer space and our inner feelings—clutter can affect our stress levels and the choices we make. Marie Kondo advises to rid your home of anything that doesn’t spark joy. That’s a great starting point for how you approach both your external life and your internal life. What can you get rid of? How can you simplify so you can focus on (and easily access) what’s important?
MINI CHALLENGE: Pick one thing (a drawer, a room, a cabinet) that’s adding unwanted clutter to your life. Note how you feel when you’re done decluttering.