Resolutions season is rolling around again, and I want to propose something a little different this year.
What if we all agreed to resolve for MORE? More what? More of whatever brings meaning or happiness to your life. More of the things that fill your proverbial bucket.
I’m proposing a mindset shift for this coming year. Instead of looking at your life and asking, “What needs fixing?” or “What ‘bad’ behaviors do I need to change?” what if you asked yourself:
- “What can I add that would make next year more joyful?”
- “In what ways would I like to grow next year?”
- “How can I help myself flourish?”
We all need and deserve more good right now. Here are some ideas getting more out of the coming year.
No, not money (though good for you if you get it!). I’m talking about nature.
If you didn’t jump on the houseplant bandwagon last year, what are you waiting for? Houseplants can help reduce stress and negative emotions. Place a few plants in your workspace to improve attention and productivity.
Plant a little garden this year. Gardening can be incredibly therapeutic, and it is one of the activities that helps Blue Zones residents stay active well into their ninth and tenth decades, while also providing fresh food.
Have a brown thumb? No problem, you can bring more green into your environment by painting a wall or adding green accent pieces to your decor. There’s a whole field of study called “color psychology” that suggests that the color green evokes feelings of peace and harmony. Add some green to your workspace to boost creativity.
Get more green exercise, meaning exercise done in nature. Green space produces myriad health benefits ranging from stress reduction to better immune function to longevity. This need not be time-consuming or arduous exercise either. Research suggests that just five minutes of walking in nature or gardening can significantly improve mood and self-esteem.
The Japanese practice of forest bathing, or shinrin yoku, involves deliberate slow walks through forests (or other green spaces like parks). In order to reap the many physical and mental health benefits, however, you must unplug and make a concerted effort to be present in the moment, noticing the sights, sounds, and smells around you. (More forest bathing is my number one intention for next year.)
Beyond the pure enjoyment that humans get from listening to music, music therapies are great for everything from cancer to autism to dementia. However, I’m not talking about listening to music here, I’m talking about making music. (But by all means, listen to more music next year!)
Learn a new instrument or dust off that clarinet from high school band. Mark has taken up drumming in the past few years and wrote recently about the many impressive brain benefits you get from playing music.
Drums are cool because in addition to making music, you also get a workout and the chance to bang away some stress. But if drums aren’t your (or your housemates’) thing, check out the Brainjo program developed by neurologist and ancestral health enthusiast Dr. Josh Turknett, which “integrates the science of neuroplasticity to optimize the learning process.”
Growth happens when we are willing to step outside of our comfort zones. We Primal folks are already accustomed to putting ourselves out there and trying new things, so this one probably doesn’t sound as unappealing to you as it might to the average person.
Think about activities that sound scary-exciting or appealing-but-nervewracking. Maybe learning a new instrument checks that box for you. Is this the year you finally try out for community theater, write your memoir, or sign up for your first 5k?
- Enforcing a consistent bedtime.
- Getting natural light soon after waking.
Those are both powerful circadian rhythm entrainers, and they’re highly actionable with a firm commitment (parents of young children and shift workers excepted).
What’s not to love about squats? As one of the Primal Essential Movements, they hold a special place in our hearts around here.
Incorporate more squatting into your day via microworkouts. Break up periods of inactivity, stimulate your muscles, and work on balance and mobility all at the same time! Incorporate a variety of squats to challenge your body in different ways.
Commit to spending less time in a chair or on the couch and more time in a squat. Squatting should be a default human rest position, as evidenced by cultures around the globe. Yet many of us struggle even to get into a heels-down squatting position, much less find it restful.
And hey, it can even help you poop!
It’s never been more obvious that low vitamin D is a public health crisis, and sun exposure is by far the best way to increase vitamin D levels (followed by supplementation). That’s reason enough to spend more time in the sun, but of course, sunshine also has immediate and tangible benefits for how you feel on a daily basis.
Commit to getting out and moving in the sunshine every day, weather permitting, and you also get the mood-elevating, immune-enhancing, and longevity-promoting benefits of green exercise. Go early for the aforementioned sleep hack, as well, and take off your shoes to grab some grounding.
Take meals, work, and phone calls outdoors whenever possible. Even if you’re not moving, you’re still getting that sweet, sweet vitamin D.
Couldn’t we all use more kindness and understanding in our lives right now? Well, you can start with being kind to yourself.
“Self-care” is having quite the moment right now, but it’s usually associated with pampering, taking “me time,” and setting good boundaries with the energy vampires in your life. While I wholeheartedly endorse all those things, I think self-compassion is the ultimate act of self-care.
Self-compassion is basically a way of showing yourself grace and understanding whenever you’re having a hard time for any reason. Research shows that more self-compassionate individuals also experience
- Better relationships with romantic partners
- Fewer negative emotions
- Less depression and anxiety
- More happiness
- More positive body image
Self-compassion doesn’t come naturally to everyone, though. Negative self-talk and limiting beliefs are all too common. The good news is that self-compassion, like mindfulness, is a skill you can develop through regular practice using guided meditations like the ones here, books, or workshops.
Ok, I’ll stop here, but there are so many more I could have mentioned. Now it’s your turn. What do YOU need more of in the coming year, and how will you get it?