Soooo…..how are your New Year’s resolutions going? Are you one of the millions who make them? As I mentioned in New Year, New You, I don’t make resolutions; I’d rather just set some realistic goals. That’s partly because resolutions usually involve some sort of big, sweeping changes that go by the wayside before the year is even halfway over. Why not just institute some small changes that can make a big difference over time?
As we talked about in Do Small Changes Really Make a Difference, they can really add up. With that in mind, I thought I’d share some small things you can do that will have a big impact on your overall wellness….and since it’s 2023, I thought I’d give you 23 suggestions.
Remember — small changes you can maintain and build on are much more effective than big changes you can’t sustain.
Of course, the goal isn’t to do all 23 things; these are just some suggestions to get you thinking.
23 Small Things You Can Do to Improve Your Wellness This Year
Remember, Wellness is about more than being physically healthy. There are almost always going to be times that we’re not doing so well in one or another dimension of overall wellness. At those times, especially when there’s nothing we can do to change that particular dimension, it’s important to concentrate on the things we can improve.
1. Spend some time thinking about where you are and where you want to be with your wellness.
It’s important to actually take the time to take stock of where you are and where you want to be with your wellness.
As the old saying goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?” I’d add: If you don’t know where you are, how will you know where you need to start?
This is also a good time to think about why you want to make wellness changes. Your why is your ultimate reason for wanting to accomplish whatever it is you want to accomplish. This has to be powerful enough to keep you moving toward the goal even when you don’t feel like it. Being clear on this will help you keep going when things get tough.
2. Take the time to set S.M.A.R.T. goals.
Goals give us the roadmap we need to get where we want to be. Making them S.M.A.R.T. makes sure we’ve thought them through and laid the path to help us succeed.
The two things listed above apply to all the wellness changes you may want to make. For the rest of them, I thought it might be helpful to group them by dimensions of wellness. Of course, you don’t need to work on all areas at once. Because all the dimensions of wellness are so interconnected, improving one area may also improve others.
Trying to do too many things at once can set us up for failure, so it’s a good idea to just start with one or two things.
3. Learn to Recognize ANTs.
No, not the kind that ruin your picnic….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.
4. Start a gratitude journal.
According to Harvard Health (2) “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
5. Try meditation.
More and more studies are showing the benefits of meditation. Whether it’s Mindfulness Meditation or meditating on Scripture, learning to calm our anxious thoughts and focus on the present helps us to stop being ruled by our emotions.
6. Organize your pantry.
Having an organized pantry sets us up for success when we’re trying to eat more healthfully.
7. 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.
8. Make a spending plan.
We get to tell our money where to go. If we don’t, we could end up overspending and run out of money before we run out of month. Our spending plan is our tool for doing that.
9. 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.
10. Learn something new.
As we talked about in How’s Your Intellectual Wellness, 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.
Reading can help expand our horizons, teach us something new, or engage our brains in problem solving.
12. Purposefully look for meaning in your work.
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.
13. Intentionally seek balance between your work and your 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. This is especially important now that so many of us are working from home.
14. Add one serving of vegetables to your daily diet.
Vegetables are little powerhouses of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In addition, they provide the fiber that helps us feel full and supports gut health. Even adding one serving can make a difference.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. Make it a point to get up and move around each hour.
As we talked about in Is Sitting the New Smoking, physical inactivity can have a disastrous impact on our health. Making an intentional effort to move around at least a few minutes each hour can help reduce the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. Join groups who are engaged in an activity or cause you enjoy or believe in.
Getting involved with people who are passionate about the same thing you are can be a springboard to developing lifelong friendships and widen your social circle.
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.
22. 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. Setting aside time each day helps us ensure the we don’t let the busy-ness of our lives crowd out our time with Him.
23. 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.
Don’t Try to Do Too Many Things At Once
So there you have it….23 small things you can do this year to improve your wellness. As we’ve talked about before, the world doesn’t need a whole new you, and you don’t need to try 23 different things either. These are just some suggestions to give you a jumping-off point. Trying to make too many changes at once can set you up for failure.
It’s much better to choose one or two small things to work on at a time. Once you’re able to be consistent with those things, you can add another one, and just continue to add things slowly as you make progress.
Wellness is about a holistic approach to being the healthiest we can be in all areas of our lives. It’s not about being perfect, or about having to have a whole “new you” every year. Let’s refuse to get caught up in the hype and do the things that are going to truly help us live our healthiest lives.
What are some of the ways you want to improve your wellness this year? Please share!
Sharing is caring! If this helped you in any way, please share with your friends!
(1) Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, 1998, 2015; Daniel G. Amen, MD; Harmony Books; New York
(2) Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier, https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier