Well, you don’t have to wait until the New Year to start improving your life. September is self-improvement month, which means you have four weeks to polish the rust and smooth the wrinkles in your life.
Since “improving your life” can seem a little ambiguous, we’ve put together the following tips for a week-by-week guide on self-improvement.
Week 1: Take a Mental Vacay
How often do we take care of our mental health? Probably not often enough!
Instead, we beat ourselves up for our shortcomings, compare our weaknesses to others’ strengths, call ourselves “fat” or “ugly” every time we look in the mirror, feel guilty over the past and then sit and wonder why we don’t feel happier.
Let’s put a stop to the vicious mental cycle.
For the first week of September, it’s time to take a mental vacation.
Don’t Drive Into the Past
Living in the past is like trying to drive a car while constantly looking out the rearview mirror—it doesn’t exactly make for a very promising future!
Take time this week to forgive yourself for things in the past you may regret, and move forward.
It’s not just Frozen characters who can “Let It Go.” You can too.
One way to let go of the past is by taking time each day to reflect on the good things you have done. Smile and give yourself a mental pat on the back each day.
Another way to jumpstart your mental health is by practicing gratitude.
The reason gratitude is so important is because is causes you to shift your focus from what you feel your life may be lacking, to realizing how abundant your life really is.
My mom is great at reminding me of this—whenever I complain about anything hard in my life, she’ll always point out someone who’s in a worse situation and remind me that I have a lot to be thankful for. Although in the moment I’m always wishing she’d just wallow in my misery with me, she is absolutely right.
By practicing gratitude regularly, you can change your whole outlook on life.
In fact, psychological and behavioral research have shown that giving thanks can make people happier, improve relationships, decrease stress and may even improve health.
So take a little time each day this week to say “thank you.”
Week 2: Go Nuts With Nutrition
You know when you have those weeks where your nutrition is an epic fail and you eat nothing but junk food? I know I’ve had those weeks. But this is a great chance to start fresh. Take the second week of September to really focus on eating healthy.
When eating your meals, take note of a few things: does your pasta salad or giant steak take up more than half of your dinner plate? If so, try cutting your serving in half.
Filling half of your dinner plate with veggies or fruit makes it harder to overdo it on high-caloric foods.
Also, try replacing your caffeinated sodas and Frappuccino’s with herbal teas, and dust off the old Magic Bullet Blender and whip up a tasty fruit smoothie (minus the added sugar) or protein shake.
Craving a good snack? Say goodbye to the potato chips and say hello to wholesome nuts like almonds, walnuts, or pistachios. Not only are nuts are a filling snack food, but they provide an excellent source of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
Do note: since nuts are high in fat, they are also higher in calories, so try to keep the munching to one serving size a day (about one ounce or 28 grams).
Lastly, if you’re struggling with your sweet tooth, resist the tempting call of the cheesecake siren and enjoy some orange slices or a handful of blueberries instead. They’ll help satisfy your sugar cravings and are plumped full of beneficial antioxidants and Vitamin C.
Water Bottle Check
Did you know that the body is composed of about 60 percent water? It’s true. In fact, the body uses water to aid in circulation, digestion, the creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, the maintenance of body temperatures and absorption.
On the flip side, we constantly lose bodily fluids from breathing, sweating, body waste and more.
That’s why it’s so crucial that we drink enough water to help maintain good health.
Set a goal to keep a water bottle handy. Keep one at your work desk, in your gym bag, on your nightstand, taped to your forehead—wherever it needs to be to remind you to drink up.
You don’t have to go buy a treadmill to get your exercise in—grab your iPod and find a new running or walking trail instead.
Join a city swimming club, try your hand at yoga or go rock climbing.
And that gym membership that you’re paying for but never use? This is definitely the week to put it to good use.
One tip: if you’re having a hard time keeping motivated with the exercise, find a good workout buddy. Having a fitness friend can give you the inspiration and the jumpstart you need to keep going.
Week 4: Do Things a Little Differently
One of the best ways to self-improve is by trying new things.
Do you spend a lot of time watching TV? Try reading a book every day for a week instead. The more you read, the more wisdom you expose yourself to.
Here are some other fun ideas: learn to yodel (why not?), start journaling, make a fancy dinner every night, learn to play chess, start meditating, try karaoke, forgive and be nice to someone who hates you (you might be surprised by the results), take scenic photographs … and the list goes on.
For me, I’ve decided to step out of my comfort zone and signed up for the company volleyball tournament this month. (This could prove to be horrifying since I haven’t played volleyball since 9th grade PE, but at least I’ll be trying something new as well as getting a good workout in. Two birds with one stone.)
Point being, the options for enriching yourself are endless!
Ready, Set, Go!
Ready for a positive change in your life? Let’s make September self-improvement happen.
You’ll be glad you did.
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