By Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC
If we don’t strive to meet our goals and to improve on a regular basis, we become stagnant. If we aren’t growing and learning, our minds become lethargic. This post comes from a bullet journal list I originally created for my own personal development. While my focus is often intellectual (seeking knowledge and attaining education), other life areas are equally important to cultivate.
According the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), there are eight dimensions of wellness:
Emotional—Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships
Environmental—Good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being
Financial—Satisfaction with current and future financial situations
Intellectual—Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills
Occupational—Personal satisfaction and enrichment from one’s work
Physical—Recognizing the need for physical activity, healthy foods, and sleep
Social—Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system
Spiritual—Expanding a sense of purpose and meaning in life
Find additional SAMHSA links in the Resources section of this blog. SAMHSA is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities. Anyone can access free publications, workbooks, and fact sheets on substance use disorder and addiction by visiting the SAMHSA website. Additionally, free online tools are available to assist with locating treatment services.
In order to maintain balance, it helps to have a variety of wellness strategies in your toolbox. The following list is comprised of 37 ideas for personal/professional development, self-improvement, and creating healthy habits.
1. Read one inspirational/motivational book per month or
2. Read one wellness article per week.
3. Take advantage of free classes offered at the library or through Coursera. (Coursera provides universal access to education, partnering with top universities and organizations. Similar sites: Course Buffet and EdX.)
4. Take part in a new activity or event to step outside your comfort zone. (Examples: Join a book club, take a cooking class, join a Meetup.)
5. Make time for an old friend.
6. Come up with an exercise routine, write it down, and then stick with it. No excuses.
7. Start walking your dog.
8. Complete household tasks and chores on a daily basis; don’t procrastinate.
9. Stay informed on the latest science and health news and research by regularly browsing Science Daily. You can also subscribe to their email list or download the app. (Today’s headline? Researchers have, for the first time, coaxed human stem cells to become sensory interneurons — the cells that give us our sense of touch.)
10. Explore an unfamiliar topic. Learn how to knit or take a self-defenses class. If your health insurance company offers online workshops or webinars, go ahead and register for one.
11. Don’t neglect your sleep hygiene. If you’re unable to adhere to a regular sleep pattern due to work or other life circumstances, at least make your bed a soft and inviting place.
12. Improve your posture. (And yes, there’s an app for that. Personally, I think a posture corrector brace would be a better investment. I’m planning on ordering one from Amazon.com and will post a review.)
13. Read a non-fiction book.
14. Take daily inventories; evaluate your attitude and productivity.
15. Drink more water, green tea, and black coffee. Drink less wine, beer, sweetened beverages, and sugary sodas.
16. Practice active listening.
17. Overcome a fear.
18. Identify your “blind spots” and make a commitment to change. Seek feedback from a friend or loved one if necessary. (An example of a blind spot could be a husband who never offers to help his wife with the chores; he’s so comfortable in his routine that he doesn’t recognize how hard she works. It’s not that he’s lazy or unhelpful; it’s a blind spot for him because it hasn’t been brought to his attention. Or, it could be a woman who doesn’t recognize that she constantly complains, creating a negative environment for those around her. Or it could be a man who constantly interrupts; he’s so focused in that he doesn’t recognize how frustrated his peers feel.)
19. Find a mentor (or be a mentor!)
20. Try a 30-day challenge to improve your wellness.
21. Meditate and practice mindfulness. If that’s not your thing, start a new morning or evening ritual. Spend a few minute alone drinking coffee, reflecting on your day, writing in a journal, etc. Find a ritual that works for you and then do it daily.
22. If the idea appeals to you, dress up, style your hair (or get a blowout), do your makeup/get a makeover, get a manicure, and wear your favorite heels. If that’s unappealing, put on your comfiest clothes and enjoy. (Wear your sweatpants like a BOSS!) If you’re not interested in make-up or sweatpants, find another awesome way to treat yourself.
23. Go a week without complaining; practice optimism. If your regular, everyday temperament is already optimistic, find a way to step up your game. (Do a kind deed or give someone your undivided attention for as long as they need it.)
24. Complete a task you’ve been putting off. (Go as big or as small as you want with this one.)
25. Take advantage of TED Talks.
26. Cook and enjoy a healthy meal.
27. Learn how to juggle.
28. Learn a foreign language or sign language.
29. Give a spontaneous gift or help a stranger.
30. Create a vision board.
32. Be a tourist in your hometown. (If you live in a big city, you might be able to find a free walking tour. If you’re local, check out free DC walking tours. Disclaimer: I haven’t been on a DC walking tour, but I’ve been on foot tours in other cities. You don’t have to pay for the tour itself, but the tour guide will expect a tip.)
33. Donate blood.
34. Learn the lyrics to a song (or rap) of your choice.
35. Complete a DIY Pinterest project from one of your boards.
36. Pick up trash in your neighborhood.
37. Send hand-written “Thank Yous” or postcards.
Additional Ideas: Run a 5K (or 10K!) Adopt an elderly pet that needs a home.
Please leave a comment if you have creative ideas for self-improvement!