21 Small Things You Can Start Doing Today To Better Yourself
It’s a new year and, for a lot of us, that means resolutions to lose weight, save money or finally embrace the single life. But I’m not a New Year’s resolutions person primarily because I have learned that, time and again, they simply don’t work for most people. What does work, however, is making small changes that dramatically improve your life over time.
When I started making small changes myself (like going to bed earlier and eating more veggies), I discovered a great resource on reddit. Sure, you might have some bigger goals that you are going after in 2019 but there are also a ton of small things that you can do right now — as in TODAY! — to be a better you. If you’re hoping that 2019 will be your best year yet (and who isn’t?), here are 21 small things that you can start doing right away to become your best self in no time.
1. Make a budget and stick to it.
As someone who has over $150,000 in debt, you might think that I am terrible at my finances but the truth is that I have spent the better part of the past couple of years trying to figure it out. The #1 lesson I’ve learned (and something which has especially helped me over the holidays) is to make a budget and stick to it. I prefer the YNAB app but there are tons out there that you can try. If you want to jumpstart your 2019, then this is definitely the first thing you should do.
2. Write down the stuff you’ve been putting off and schedule yourself time specifically to get them done.
We all have that stuff on our list but having in only in your mind causes extra anxiety. Take some time to write down everything you need to get done on a sheet of paper then, little by little, start doing it. Having it written down and out of your head will definitely help with actually doing it instead of just stressing about it.
3. Forgive your past self and learn from your previous mistakes.
This one is going to take time but it’s something that you can slowly work towards in 2019. We are constantly beating ourselves up for one thing or another but there’s a lot you can do to let go. If there’s something particularly deep or painful that you are dealing with, then I suggest getting a therapist or subscribing to one of the many talk therapy apps out there.
4. Call your loved ones, especially the ones who have loved you even through your shit times.
It’s nice to have people to depend on and it is especially nice to have those people through the good times and the bad. However, if you only reach out to your friends and family when you are dealing with something tough, they will begin to feel used. Instead, make an effort to keep in touch at any time of time… and don’t forget to ask them how they’re doing as well.
5. Take deep, controlled breaths.
There are several different breathing exercises you can do but a favorite of mine is to breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for eight seconds, then breathe out for seven seconds. If you are having a major anxiety episode or just feeling stressed out, this can be a great thing to do at the moment.
6. Allocate time more directly to the maintenance of body and home.
Your body is your temple and your home is where you keep it, so it would make sense that you should treat them well. This means improving your diet (eating more veggies!) and scheduling the time to improve your home (new paint, getting those curtains you’ve been meaning to buy, etc).
7. Give someone else a compliment at least once a day.
This is something that can improve your life as well as the lives of others. If you strive to give someone else a compliment at least once a day, you’ll feel better and so will they. It doesn’t even have to be anything major since you can start with something small like “nice shoes” or “I like your hair.”
8. Do your dishes before you go to bed.
This one is small and kind of silly but trust me when I say it can really help. I’ve been making sure to do my dishes (or have my husband do them) every night before we go to bed and it has seriously helped with stress in the mornings. That is one less thing that I have to do when I wake up and having a clean kitchen is always nice.
9. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.
This is a piece of advice you have probably heard over and over again but there’s a reason for that: It truly helps! You don’t have to make a huge point of doing something big but even taking a walk or doing some at-home yoga can count as your daily exercise.
10. Set a sleep schedule and try to stick with it.
This is by far the best thing I have done for myself in the past year or so. After reading the book Why We Sleep, I completely revolutionized my sleep schedule and now go to bed fairly early (though that’s not necessary) and make sure to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night (which is the most important thing). Seriously, this is a MUST for all humans since lack of sleep causes so many physical and mental problems.
11. Make more time to hang out with friends and be there for them.
Just as your friends are there for you, you should be there for them. Spending a bit more time with them this year will definitely bring some added happiness to your life. It doesn’t have to be a ton of time if you don’t have it to spare but trust me when I say that more time with friends will help you be a healthier, stronger person overall.
12. Read a book for at least 10 minutes a day.
This is something that can help you a lot since there is always some new book to read and something new to discover. I know that many of us set reading goals every year and this small change will help to make that reading goal a reality. After all, 10 minutes a day is quick.
13. Take care of your mental health.
A key way that you can improve your life is to devote as much time to your mental health as you do to your physical health (see above). You can seek out a therapist (I highly recommend this) or engage in apps that can help. You can meditate (see below) and figure out what you need in your own self-care routine in order to help your mind… Whatever it is, figure out how to improve your mental state and DO IT.
14. Start putting $20 away from each paycheck into a savings account.
Guess how much you will not miss a simple $20 from your paycheck every other week? You won’t. It is truly a small amount that can end up adding up in the end. Just think: If you do this, assuming you get paid every other week, you will have $520 in your savings account at the end of the year.
15. Take a break from screens every so often.
I know it’s funny to read this as you are staring at a screen right now but this is truly something that can help. Not only can it improve your mental health (see above) but it can also help with some of your smaller goals, like more reading (also above) or having the time to meditate (see below).
16. Drink more water.
This one’s simple. Drink more water, period. I highly recommend getting a gallon-sized water bottle that you can refill in order to track that you are drinking a good amount every day. I got one a couple of months ago and I am definitely feeling MUCH better about my water consumption these days.
17. Start meditating.
Meditation is something that I have been meaning to try for ages and it’s always difficult for me to keep up… but I also know how much it helps. Not only does it help others with their focus needs but also with their mental health. As someone who has anxiety, meditation has helped tremendously. The best part is that you can easily do it for free or try one of the various meditation apps out there, all of which have content that is free (though most also have memberships to access premium content).
18. Spend 5 minutes tidying up in the room you are in.
This is yet another thing that can really help you and add up in the long run. If you have a messy home, then you will especially benefit from this one. All you need to do is spend five minutes a day cleaning up after yourself. That could mean vacuuming that room (we both know it won’t take you more than 5 minutes) or picking up everything off the floors or wiping down the surfaces.
19. Start your day with some stretching exercises.
Stretching is a great exercise to get your blood pumping in the morning. You only truly need a few minutes a day in order to do this but it’s something that will get you more energized. You can incorporate this into your regular exercise routine, too.
20. Brush your teeth twice a day.
I often forget to brush my teeth at night, sadly, but dental hygiene is VERY important. Flossing is an important part of it, too, but especially brushing morning and night can help in the long run.
21. Put moisturizer with some SPF on your face.
I live in Florida and yet always forget to put on moisturizer. Well, sadly, it’s beginning to show. A friend recently commented that my skin is looking dry and I realized that this is the cause. You should especially do this in the winter if you live in dryer climates but don’t forget the SPF. That will help with the overall look of your skin… And, let’s face it, it’ll help you look less old in the long run.
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