By Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC
If we don’t strive to meet our goals and improve on a regular basis, we become stagnant. And if we aren’t growing and learning, our minds become lethargic.
According the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), there are eight dimensions of wellness:
1. Emotional—Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships
2. Environmental—Good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being
3. Financial—Satisfaction with current and future financial situations
4. Intellectual—Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills
5. Occupational—Personal satisfaction and enrichment from one’s work
6. Physical—Recognizing the need for physical activity, healthy foods, and sleep
7. Social—Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system
8. Spiritual—Expanding a sense of purpose and meaning in life
Find additional SAMHSA links in the Links section of this site. 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.
In order to maintain balance and live a meaningful life, 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.
37 Things You Can Do for a More Meaningful Life
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 by partnering with top universities and organizations.)
4. Take part in a new activity or event to step outside your comfort zone. (Examples: Join a book club, take a cooking class, attend a Meetup, etc.)
5. Make time for an old friend.
6. Develop an exercise routine, write it down, and then stick with it. No excuses!
7. Walk your dog (or borrow one from a friend!)
8. Complete household tasks and chores on a daily basis. Create a chore list. Don’t procrastinate!
9. Stay informed on the latest science and health news/research with sites like Science Daily.
10. Attend a workshop to learn about a topic you’re unfamiliar with.
11. Prioritize sleep hygiene.
12. Improve your posture. (And yes, there are apps for that!)
13. Read a non-fiction book.
14. Take a daily inventory; assess your attitude, productivity, etc. before going to bed.
15. Drink more water, green tea, and black coffee. (And drink less wine, beer, sugar-sweetened beverages, and soda!)
16. Practice active listening.
17. Overcome a fear.
18. Identify your “blind spots” by soliciting feedback from a trusted friend or loved one. They can help you to recognize areas for improvement by sharing their observations. (Example: You may not realize how often you complain until someone points it out for you.) Make a commitment to change.
19. Find a mentor (or be a mentor!)
20. Complete a 30-day challenge to improve your mental and/or physical health.
21. Live a meaningful life with daily meditation and mindfulness. Spend a few quiet moments alone every morning, drinking a cup of coffee. Or journal before going to bed. Reflect on your day and think about what you’re grateful for. Practice deep breathing exercises or listen to guided imagery scripts. Create your own unique ritual.
22. Dress up, style your hair, apply makeup, get a manicure/pedicure/facial, wear sexy shoes or your favorite jacket… Alternatively, you may prefer to put on your comfiest clothes, sweatpants or a fuzzy sweater. Whatever makes you feel good!
23. Be optimistic. Catch yourself if you start complaining and reframe your thoughts. Always assume positive intent.
24. Complete a task you’ve been putting off.
25. Watch a TED Talks.
26. Cook and enjoy a healthy meal.
27. Learn to juggle.
28. Learn a foreign language (or sign language).
29. Practice random acts of kindness, give a spontaneous gift, or help a stranger.
30. Create a vision board.
32. Be a tourist in your hometown. (Free walking tours are often available in larger cities!)
33. Donate blood or plasma.
34. Memorize the lyrics to a song (or rap) of your choice.
35. Find a Pinterest project that interests you. Pin it and then do it!
36. Pick up trash in your neighborhood.
37. Write and mail “thinking of you” cards/postcards.
Additional Ideas: Run a 5K (or 10K!) Adopt an elderly pet that needs a home.
Comment with your best ideas for living a more meaningful life.