1. MAKE EXERCISE A HABIT FOR LIFE.
Find something you like (or at least don’t hate) and commit to doing it for six weeks. Start where you are. Can’t run a mile? Walk a mile. Or a half mile. Too self-conscious to join a gym? Download a free beginner fitness app or visit a fitness video website for inspiration. There are hundreds to choose from, but Fitness Blender, Couch-to-5k, and Nike Training Club are some good ones that are free and don’t require any equipment other than some supportive shoes. After six weeks, reevaluate and decide if you want to continue exercising. I bet you’ll be surprised by how good you feel.
2. GET GOOD SLEEP
Go to bed on time, ideally at the same time every night. Practice dark shade therapy. Dark shade therapy is making sure your room is totally dark: all lights off, no devices, and light-blocking curtains. 10:00 p.m. is a great time to go to bed; studies show we often get our best sleep between 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. If you wake up in the middle of the night, get up and do some gentle stretches and go back to bed. If you still can’t sleep after 20 minutes, get up and do something gentle like reading or knitting (no electronic devices!) until you feel sleepy again.
3. IF YOU NEED MEDICATION, TAKE IT
Be aggressive about finding the right medication and the right dose. Be persistent and be under the supervision of a good MD. The right dose and type of medication can make a huge difference if mental health challenges run in your family or if you are experiencing PTSD or a major depression. If you start with a lower dosage and increase slowly, you are less likely to experience side effects. Once you’ve found your dose, take it regularly and consistently. Apps like MyTherapy Pill Reminder and MediSafe are great ways to keep track.
4. EAT HEALTHY FOODS
Garbage in = garbage out! Try to eat fruits and vegetables in a variety of different colors along with nuts, beans, whole grains, and salmon. Try my Oatmeal Supreme (recipe at the end of the article!) for a healthy breakfast that will keep you nourished well into your day. Aim to mix spinach and kale (or other greens) with your meal as chewing a lot send signals to your brain you are full.
5. CULTIVATE MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIPS
No matter who or how we love, we are social animals. Investing in our relationships has lifelong value and can even help us live longer. Reach out to those you care about and who care about you. A simple phone call or text can strengthen or re-establish a connection. Starting a group chat with old friends or distant family can take some of the pressure off of one-on-one communication. If you want to develop new relationships, challenge yourself to be curious about the people around you who may be different from you. Introduce yourself. Listen to them and ask questions. Our relationships are our most valuable resource!
6. DEVELOP A RESILIENT RELATIONSHIP WITH YOURSELF
Be your own coach and push yourself to grow. Find a way to spend some time out of your comfort zone. Face those small fears. Often, you’ll find that excitement lies on the other side. Take a class, take a small solo trip, or learn a new skill (YouTube and TikTok are great for this!) If you fail, get back on the horse and move on. Try it again, immediately or the next day, if possible. Nothing creates as much fear as not facing your fears.
7. CULTIVATE POSITIVE THINKING
Each day, list what you’re grateful for. What are you thankful for in your health, your relationships, your work? When you wake up in the morning, make a list in your mind (or even better, on paper) of what you are grateful for and refer back to it three times a day. Make optimistic thinking a habit. Sometimes we don’t feel grateful, so start as small as you need to. It can be good to start with your body, stating, “I am grateful for my breath, my legs, and my healthy heart.”
8. CULTIVATE A VITALITY ROUTINE
Start your morning with a vitality routine that sets you up for a good day. Get up, make your bed, do some form of exercise (even if it is just for five minutes) have a healthy breakfast, get dressed, and get going. Make it a habit to do things in the same order each day so you can make your habits automatic. Ask yourself, “What can I do this week to enhance my vitality?” What can I do today that will empower me?
9. GET GOOD AT SAYING NO
If something is bothering you, take some time acknowledge it. Is it something you can say “no” to? Often, we need practice saying “no.” We may want to but don’t know how. Practice gentle ways to say no while expressing appreciation. Example: “I would love to meet you for lunch, but my schedule is slammed. Can we get together next month?”
10. DRESS YOURSELF WELL
Research shows we can improve our mood by what we put on in the morning. Play around with colors and discover what makes you feel good about yourself. You don’t have to be rich for your wardrobe to make you feel like a million bucks. Remember, you can find great clothes at thrift and consignment stores. Poshmark and ThredUp are great apps for finding designer clothes at rummage sale prices. If you like your clothes, but they’re looking a bit worn, take them to a tailor to have your hems repaired and your buttons resewn. (Or, turn to YouTube again and learn to do the repairs yourself!) Remember, if you look good, you’ll feel good!
OATMEAL SUPREME (SERVES ONE)
Mix one half cup of oatmeal with a tablespoon of flaxseed and one tablespoon of chia seed. Add some cinnamon and stevia if you like it sweet. Stir into one cup of boiling water. Turn the heat down to medium and keep stirring for about 4 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the oatmeal is the consistency you like. Cut one apple into small pieces and add it to the hot oatmeal.
This is a very healthy breakfast and you can also vary it by adding different fruit such as strawberries for vitamin C or blueberries for antioxidants. Another great choice is a banana, which will provide lots of potassium, which is good for the heart and tasty too!