A new year often brings a sense of renewed energy and optimism. It’s a time to look back at previous accomplishments, while also looking forward and setting intentions for the upcoming months. Instead of creating strict resolutions (that, for many, might be hard to uphold for the longterm), we prefer the idea of cultivating healthy habits to add to our everyday routine. By being mindful and incorporating intentional practices, you may feel like your health and wellness goals may be easier to stick to throughout the year.
Here are a few ideas of self-care activities that can be easily adapted by anyone striving to live more mindfully in 2020:
1. Calm Your Inner Thoughts
Mindfulness is the quality of being fully present and engaged in the current moment without succumbing to distraction, judgments, or intrusive thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness often takes skill and can be practiced through deep breathing or meditation. By teaching the mind to be present and dulling thoughts that don’t serve a purpose, you can train the mind to be less reactive to stressful or challenging situations.
To teach yourself to be more mindful and present in situations, many have found meditation as the best training method. Mediation doesn’t require a fancy yoga studio or a guru, nor does it require a significant amount of time. A few minutes of mindful meditation a day can have beneficial effects on your health and well-being.
To make it even easier to incorporate mindfulness into your everyday routine, mobile phone applications, such as Calm or Headspace, are now readily available to guide you through meditation practices. A goal to start with would be to practice mindfulness or focused breathing once a day, either in the morning when you first wake up, or at night before bed.
2. Start a Journal
If you go to bed at night with your mind racing or wake up in the morning flooded with worries regarding the upcoming day, you are not alone. Many people cite worry or a racing mind as a primary contributor to the inability to sleep. Journaling is a practical way to re-focus that energy. Journaling is something anyone can do and doesn’t necessarily mean “diary-keeping” or stream-of-consciousness style writing. You can keep a notebook on your nightstand and write out the thoughts that have been keeping you up at night, with the intention of re-visiting the ideas the next day or at a later time. Getting your ideas out on paper is a useful tool to teach yourself to let go of the thoughts and set them aside for a more appropriate time.
There are endless variations of journaling. Some people enjoy keeping a dream journal by their bed to scrawl out dream plots after they occur, finding that getting it down on paper helps them get back to sleep faster. For others, journaling may mean list-making throughout the day or writing notes into their mobile phone’s note-taking app. The mobile app Evernote is a convenient way to keep your thoughts organized and includes space for note-taking, ideas, lists, and reminders.
To start, you can set a journaling goal of 5-10 minutes a day in the journaling style of your choice. If you need help getting started, you can try a journaling prompt. Journaling first thing in the morning is a useful practice that can help you re-channel any negative thoughts into more constructive ones that help serve you throughout your day.
3. Prioritize Sleep
Having good, quality sleep is essential to mental and physical health. Scientific studies show that sleep deprivation has far-reaching negative effects on your mental state and can cause a vast range of adverse effects on overall health and well-being¹. Most of us don’t need a scientific study to validate the impacts of lack of sleep; we’ve all had nights of poor sleep and can attest to the negative effects a restless night has on the body and mind.
Getting a good night’s sleep can increase energy levels, increases focus and alertness, encourages better food choices, and positively affects mood². Prioritizing sleep is one of the most effective things you can do from a cost-reward analysis standpoint. It takes little effort to prioritize sleep, but you will reap a significant reward in the form of better overall wellness.
Many people struggle with getting a good night’s sleep, and there are some simple steps you can implement to encourage a restful night.
- Avoid tv screens, computer screens, mobile phone screens, or any other blue light screens at least 2-3 hours before bed. If blue light is unavoidable, you can try blue light blocking glasses.
- Do not consume caffeine after 5 pm.
- Stop eating at least 2-3 hours before bed.
- Avoid exercising or raising your heart rate before bed, but do exercise during the daytime.
- Try taking CBD at least an hour before bedtime.
- Meditate or journal before bed
- Avoid excessive water consumption before bed
- Avoid alcohol
- Install blackout curtains or wear an eye mask
- Use a white noise machine or binaural beat sound machine
4. Engage in Activities and Cultivate Hobbies That are Worth Doing
What do you love doing? Does it add value to your life, and is it time well-spent? Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do but felt too busy or fearful to attempt? Let this be the year to prioritize your personal enrichment. Maybe that means learning a new language, tracing your family tree, taking a cooking class, learning martial arts, or volunteering your time to a non-profit organization or charity.
In the spirit of personal enrichment, it may also be time to drop the things that don’t fulfill or serve you. Maybe you want to exercise but quickly realize you can’t stand the class you’ve signed up for, but continue to go to for the sake of fitness? Or maybe you continue to go because you perceive not attending might hurt the instructors feelings. It might be time to stop that class and to try something that truly makes you feel more fulfilled. It's ok to make a change that promotes your self-interest, and most of the time, others will understand.
Making a change might mean a different activity that still incorporates fitness (if that’s your goal), but also fulfills a deeper inner sense of accomplishment. That could be hiking your local area and learning about the native flora and fauna, or learning to rock climb and planning a rock-climbing weekend with friends, or doing yoga at home and creating a peaceful corner to practice, or becoming a dog-walker because you love to be around animals. Re-frame your perspective and let your “chores” become your hobbies—blur the line between obligation and self-enrichment.
Find what you love, and go for it. Having a sense of achievement can increase your self-esteem and improve your overall well-being.
5. Practice Consistency
Whatever it is you decide to commit to in the new year, consistency is key in creating new habits. According to researchers at the University College London, on average, it takes around 66 days for a new habit to stick³. Which is almost three times as much as the commonly held myth that it takes 21 days to form a new habit! Trying to reinforce a daily habit for over two months may seem like a daunting task. However, if you set the intention by dedicating a few minutes every day, or by creating a set schedule, the habit will begin to feel like second nature over time.
Setting aside time for self-care is crucial in maintaining a balanced wellness routine. Just like reinforcing a new healthy habit, taking CBD also requires a small daily commitment. CBD works best by accumulating in your body over time so that it can provide sustained support to your body’s natural balancing system, your ECS (endocannabinoid system). CBD should be taken daily for a minimum of 30 days to experience the maximum balancing effects.
You may even find that adding CBD into your wellness regimen may make the mindfulness goals listed above easier to incorporate into your daily routine! CBD promotes a balanced body and mind and an overall sense of wellness.
Most importantly, be kind to yourself in the new year. We all deserve a little grace when trying to improve our health and well-being. If you fall off the wagon, there’s always an opportunity to start over again. Here’s to healthier habits and finding balance in the new year!