New Year Resolutions are typically broken in the first few weeks of the new year. But what if you could change that? What if you could create habits, you will follow through on month after month?
They say it takes twenty-one days to form a habit. When you accomplish a goal, your brain rewards you with a rush of chemicals that make you feel happy and confident. When you feel more in control, you improve your mental wellness. By committing to 30-day challenges, you introduce a behavior you would like to adopt and give yourself time to focus on it. By the end of the 30 days, you have created a habit.
Imagine what your life would look like at the end of one year if you committed to twelve 30-day challenges. Imagine your physical, emotional, and mental wellness after forming new (and healthier) habits.
Ideas for 30-day challenges for mental wellness.
These ideas for 30-day challenges are a jumping-off point to get you started. You may already practice some of these habits daily. If so, add new ones that will benefit your lifestyle. For example, maybe you want to focus more on your spiritual life. You could commit to working in a devotional workbook or listening to praise music daily for one month.
These are your 30-day challenges. Make them work for you. You will be surprised at its effect on your mental wellness.
Walking improves your brain function and cardiorespiratory system. It also improves balance and range of motion and burns excess fat. People who walk consistently tend to have lower blood pressure and a resting heart rate. It is also a perfect introduction to exercise as you can make it as low impact as you need or quicken your pace for a challenge.
Start with short walks around your neighborhood or on a treadmill. Or stream walk-at-home videos to gain the benefits right in your living room.
When ready, take your walks further and introduce other training exercises. Take the focus off of weight loss and focus on improving your performance with these activities. For example, if you follow a weightlifting program, record your weights throughout the month.
Are you lifting heavier by the end of the month? Can you do more burpees or pushups than when you started? These results become addictive as you see changes in your body and mindset.
Yoga and sports are also excellent activities you can track. You can record how well you lean into a pose or how much less stiff your joints feel. Another example is basketball. How are your three-point shots after one month of practice? Record your improvements.
No sugar or fast food.
Our brains are wired to respond to sugar and fast food as rewards. However, we know that sugar and fast foods contain ingredients that can be unhealthy for us. Too much of either can lead to physical and mental illnesses and conditions like diabetes, depression, and anxiety.
Thirty days is a short time to cut sugar or fast food. Record how you feel daily the longer you choose healthier fare. Are you less bloated and tired? Have you lost weight? Can you think clearly? You may see clearer skin and healthier, shiner hair by the end of the month.
No alcohol or caffeine.
Although moderate alcohol and caffeine consumption can benefit some people, what would happen if you avoided one for a month? You may see less inflammation or feel energized in the mornings. You might save money by not purchasing bottles of wine or cans of beer or soda pop.
If you currently drink a great deal of alcohol or caffeine, consider cutting back instead of going cold turkey initially. For example, if you drink three cans of beer every evening, can you cut back to one?
Same with caffeinated drinks. To avoid withdrawal headaches, cut your consumption in half. You will be uncomfortable for a few days, but your body will respond, especially if you substitute with more water.
Journaling is a beneficial practice for your mental wellness. You decide what you would like to write about, but it allows you to analyze your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It also helps you to identify why some people behave the way they do. You can record three to five things you are grateful for at the end of the day or events you would like to reflect on years later.
You can have different types of journals and rotate them as you see fit. For example, you could keep a prayer journal, a gratitude journal, and a nightly journal. These can be inexpensive. Pick a pretty notebook that appeals to you from the local dollar store.
Drink more water.
Our bodies crave water. We need water to lift the brain fog, hydrate our organs, and prevent the effects of dehydration. Yet, most people need to drink more and instead consume caffeinated drinks.
The amount of water you drink is up to you as long as it is a healthy amount. Too much water can make you sick. Start with sixty-four ounces daily and assess your activity level, climate, and medications before increasing your goal. Check with your physician for safe amounts. In most cases, you can consume half your body weight in ounces, such as a 150-pound woman drinking seventy-five ounces of water daily.
Read a self-improvement book.
Don’t let the title fool you. You do not need to read an entire self-improvement book a day. But you can commit to reading for twenty minutes or ten pages daily. There are plenty of self-help books online and at the library. Is there an area you need help? You can find almost any topic.
Choose a book or two and decide how many pages or chapters to read. Take notes when you come across something you would like to try. Then, challenge yourself to try the book’s suggestions during your 30-day challenge.
Send a note to someone.
Are there people in your life for whom you are grateful? Is there someone that stands out for the unselfish way they bless others? Taking a few minutes daily to message or email these people will make them feel seen and appreciated and give you a mental boost. Acknowledging others improves your empathy.
If you have their address, send them a card through the mail. With technology and instant delivery, we forget how special it feels to receive a handwritten card or letter in the mail. First, make a list of people you want to acknowledge and why then set aside time to write a note of appreciation.
Take a course.
A 30-day challenge is a perfect time to work on a course. Is there something you want to learn? Is there a craft or skill you need to master for work or to change careers? Thirty days is just the right amount of time to approach a subject you are hesitant about learning. Do you want to learn Korean, but are not sure you can? Thirty days gives you a glimpse at the basics. You can decide what you want to do after your challenge ends.
For example, have you always wanted to learn American Sign Language (ASL) but never had the time? Make learning ASL your challenge this month. You will start with the basics (the alphabet). Once you have that down, the course will teach you the next steps. Depending on the time you spend focusing on the course, you may want to continue past the end of the month. You can find classes in every subject online for free or paid.
Looking for more ways to improve?
Do you want more ideas to improve your mental wellness? Contact our office today to schedule an appointment with a counselor to discuss well-being and learn ways to manage stress.
“Happy Family”, Courtesy of Trust “Tru” Katsande, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Sifting Flour”, Courtesy of Tomeo Sonner, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Old Fashioned Whiskey”, Courtesy of Ferals Studio, Unsplash.com, Unsplash+ License; “Journal”, Courtesy of Ramiro Pianarosa, Unsplash.com, Unsplash+ License