For the first month of my new happiness project, I'm focusing on my general health and wellness. I think it's important to boost this project with an infusion of energy and vitality--something I don't always feel as the mother of two young children with a third on the way. So my resolutions this month will be focused on improving my overall wellness.
Lest you're worried that this is some twenty-first century self-help mumbo-jumbo, know that even Benjamin Franklin put concerted effort into bettering himself and striving for his version of the good life. Look at his daily schedule and his resolutions chart!
The key to this whole endeavor is to come up with clear resolutions to follow each month--concrete, measurable actions--and then hold yourself accountable. It's incredibly important that the resolutions are concrete and measurable. "Respect my wife more" sounds like a great idea, but how exactly do you do that? What does it look like? "Put down the computer when my wife talks to me," is a clear action that you can take to show your wife you respect her by giving her your full attention when she talks.
The second part of writing resolutions is keeping them. What's the best way to hold yourself accountable? As I feel no need to reinvent the wheel, I've borrowed Gretchen Rubin's resolutions chart and filled it in with my own resolutions. You can download it here. (This chart is filled in with her resolutions. If you scroll down to the very bottom you'll find a blank chart where you can write your own). Of course you can make your own, if you have the time and inclination. If you do, please share!
Now, back to my resolutions for my health and wellness month. I'm aiming not just for physical health, but a bit of mental health as well: I want to include some habits that will make my life easier by making me more organized and prepared when each day begins.
1. Get enough sleep. Obvious, right? But with two kids who don't always like to go to bed at a reasonable hour and the need to spend some evening time decompressing, I often stay up too late. This month I'm aiming to be in bed by 10:30, with no screen use after 9:30 pm. (Because we've all read the billion articles about how bad screens are before sleep, right?)
2. Exercise every day. When I lived in Southern California in my twenties, I'd wake up and do yoga for an hour or two, then play ultimate Frisbee or hike for another two-three hours, and sometime after dinner go for a meandering walk through the Los Feliz hills. These days I count squats while I pick up my kids' toys. And while I'm not in bad shape, I'm certainly not in good shape. My body is creaky and cranky. I have a great opportunity now, before the third baby comes, to change that. So every day I will do some sort of exercise, even if it's only twenty minutes.
3. Stretch at night. This goal is small and specific: I want to spend five minutes lying on my back with my feet up the wall every night before bed. It's an easy, passive stretch that works wonders for the hamstring, blood pressure, and general sanity. This is the closest I'm getting to meditation, at least this month.
4. Write a weekly meal plan. Eating better is obviously a part of any wellness project. I find that when we don't have a plan for dinner, we often basic meals with few vegetables and I often don't get any protein (I'm a vegetarian and the rest of my family eats meat, and we don't always feel like cooking two separate proteins, so very often James will cook some meat for the boys and I'll just make do with a bit of cheese--clearly not the best health habit). However, when I sit down with a cookbook or two and plan out a week's worth of meals, we get more vegetables, more beans, and more variety. In addition, everything about dinner just feels easier when you don't have to decide what to make every single night.
5. Write a to-do list. Another obvious one, right? At the end of each work day I need to write down three-five tasks to do the following day, so when I sit down at my desk I can jump into the work immediately. We could also be a bit more intentional as a family if we had some clear tasks to accomplish amidst the fun of the weekends, so I want to do this on family days, too. It also feels terrific to check things off a to-do list, right? So this will add small moments of accomplishment during the day.
6. Get ready the night before. Is this something everyone but me already does? Before kids, I could pack a lunch, pack my bag, and be out of the house with no problem. Now, with a husband and kids, mornings can be a massive stressfest with both James and I trying to get ready while trying to get the kids ready (while the kids are trying to do anything but get ready). Tempers flare, items are forgotten. By at least packing my bag and gathering the kids' things the night before, we can work toward a smoother start to the day.
What other health and wellness habits do you follow, or would you like to start following?