31 Things You Can Do to Be Happier and Healthier in 2017
Congratulations—you’ve made it through 2016. This past year, you’ve learned how to achieve emotional maturity, bought your first house, and even start a retirement plan; or perhaps you’ve gotten that promotion or started your own company. It was a big year, and you deserve a hearty pat on the back. But you’re not done yet. The New Year is the perfect time to assess and go after new goals. You probably have plenty of ideas for New Year’s resolutions, but starting and sustaining yearlong goals can feel daunting (if not impossible). And that’s no way to start the year.
Instead, we’ve come up with a solution that makes resolutions a little more approachable and a lot more inspiring… Starting today for every day of January, we’ll be posting a new goal to help inspire possibilities in every aspect of your life. From improving your mental wellness to finally booking that solo Euro trip, these challenges—however small—will help you start off January on the right foot and with all the right tools.
January 20: Quell Your Anxiety With Therapy-Based Tools
If you’re having a high-stress day or you’ve been dealing with anxiety more consistently, commit to focusing on your mental health. Easier said than done, though, isn’t it? We often forget that anxiety is a very real beast with debilitating physiological manifestations. Light-headedness, fatigue, muscle tension… These are all likely suspects. If they sound familiar, practice cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)–based tools to help alleviate the symptoms so you can cope better. Some CBT techniques include working against your negative thinking patterns by writing them down, challenging them, and then replacing them with positive ones. This kind of introspection is challenging, especially when you're suffering from anxiety, but your improved outlook and mood make it worthwhile. And don't forget to reward yourself for the little triumphs to make the habit easier to maintain. You deserve it!
Relax, Write, Reward, Repeat:
January 19: Plan a Solo Day Trip to Get Some "Me" Time
After spending a ton of quality time with in-laws and friends over the holidays, we’re all ready for some quality time to ourselves. Don’t get us wrong; we love the spirit of togetherness, but a little time to decompress is necessary for even the most extroverted, and nothing says treat yourself like a solo trip. Experiencing the excitement and independence of traveling on your own is a rewarding challenge, particularly if you’ve never done it before. According to Psychology Today, getting some privacy will allow you to work through problems more effectively and enhance your relationships with others, among other benefits.
Lifestyle blogger and mom of two Kelli Murray suggests packing light since “hauling around a ton of luggage is never easy when you’re on your own.” And, as always though most importantly when you’re on your own, think of safety first: “Make copies of important documents, like your passport and driver’s license; keep the copies on you and secure the originals somewhere in your hotel room,” Murray says. Opt for a Fossil Q Hybrid Smartwatch that doesn’t need to be charged; that way you don’t have to worry about grappling with tangled ropes of USB cords taking up room in your luggage. The cushiest part? It’s totally okay to forget which timezone you’re in, because your smartwatch will remember it for you, automatically updating itself to the right time and place. This Fossil watch is the ideal smartwatch to travel with because it keeps you connected and its understated style vibes so well with your travel outfit.
And a solo vacation doesn’t have to be an epic foreign trip. There are plenty of awesome day trips that are just as worthwhile. Think about booking an experience with more structure, like a wellness retreat, or burn off some steam on a hike, visit an aquarium to transport your mind, or even just relax at a matinée on a cold afternoon.
Shop Travel Essentials:
January 18: Beautify Your Bathroom
Have you given your bathroom a refresh lately? When it comes to keeping your home clean, this is arguably the most important room to tidy up on a regular basis. Even better, if you consistently maintain a clean space, you won’t end up having to deal with that dreaded deep clean later. Start by vacuuming the floors, and then give them a good sweep. After that, you can use a Swiffer more for the floors and wipe down surfaces and mirrors with lint-free towels. Once you’ve done that, there are a few things you can do to make it easier to maintain. Stay organized with practical furniture like a corner étagère and hooks for your fresh towels. Investing in the right bathroom-friendly plant will also freshen things up. And it doesn’t hurt to keep a nice candle or organic room spray nearby to elevate the overall atmosphere.
Freshen Things Up:
January 17: Make a Productivity- and Mood-Boosting Playlist
Fact: Music alters mood. If you’ve ever listened to a sad song that unexpectedly made you feel better, you know what we’re talking about. Or maybe you’ve noticed that your pump up beat has the opposite impact on someone else. According to Toumas Eerola, a music cognition researcher at Durham University, music has the power to either boost, worsen, or regulate one’s temperament, so why not curate a few playlists for different occasions? After some trial and error, you’ll be able to identify songs or genres that trigger creativity, productivity, and even some that beget catharsis. The American Music Therapy Association also suggests that the right music can help manage stress. Not sure where to get started? Check out a few sites for inspiration and guidance. When it comes to new music discovery, we love Pigeons and Planes, Pitchfork, Consequence of Sound, and Stereogum.
Pump Up the Volume:
January 16: Nip Your Late Nights and Insomnia in the Bud
Whether you’re feeling run down or well rested after the holiday break, chances are you’ve experienced both the repercussions of a sleepless night as well as the healing powers of catching some z’s. It is the unsung hero of wellness rituals, after all. So when we asked illustrator and lifestyle blogger Kelli Murray about her goals for 2017, we weren’t surprised to see sleep at the top of her list. However, getting enough quality sleep is easier said than done, especially if you’re a working woman who also just resolved to have a well-rounded life. But a hectic schedule is exactly why you should prioritize getting effective shut-eye: Sleep actually enables you to get more done in less time.
As a self-proclaimed night owl by nature, Murray relies on her foolproof wind-down ritual of decaf tea and good books. Another key ingredient to promoting healthy sleep habits is ensuring that your bedroom is a peaceful sanctuary. We suggest dimming the lights and keeping anything work-related out of your bedroom. If you’ve found a relaxing routine but still struggle to fall asleep quickly, try the 4-7-8 breathing trick, which is proven to help you fall asleep in under a minute.
Now that you’ve established a sleep routine, turn your focus on maintenance. To stick to a prescribed schedule, Murray suggests using the sleep tracker on the Fossil Q Hybrid Smartwatch (it also tracks your steps during the day—win-win), which alerts her when it’s time to turn in and tracks how many quality hours of snooze she gets. Training your body’s internal clock is the first step to maintaining your bedtime for the rest of 2017.
Get Cozy With These Must-Haves:
January 15: Learn a New Recipe for a Quick Meal
There’s nothing better than a warm homemade meal after a long day. It’s the perfect antidote to calm your nerves and relinquish any stress. But finding the time to prepare it (and the energy) is the challenging part. And for many of us, it’s simply a lack of confidence in the kitchen that prevents us from even trying. So if you’re a beginner, the key is taking baby steps and practicing your cooking skills with some easy recipes first. To get started, seek out those dishes that not only leave you feeling satisfied but also keep you healthy and don’t take up your whole night—try a few from this healthy roundup of quick weeknight recipes. If you love dessert or prefer baking, then these sweet treats are deliciously simple. The best part about learning to cook, though, is the money you’ll save.
Shop for a Fashionable Kitchen:
January 14: Make a Gallery Wall Once and for All
If you’ve been feeling uninspired in your home lately, there’s a simple solution. Spice up your space by decorating those blank walls with a gallery of photos, illustrations, and pretty much anything else that can fit in a frame. While this may sound like a big project at first, it’s actually really easy if you know a few of these tricks. For instance, if you’re on a budget, hit up a local vintage store and scour their boxes for unique, cheap frames. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the finds you’ll score at an unassuming Salvation Army—and we’re speaking from personal experience. The more diverse in shape, color, and style, the better (though you may want to bring a tape measure with you).
Once you have enough frames, go through your photo albums or old art you’ve been storing away. Putting these pieces in a new context will make them feel fresh again. Even something like an old embroidery project in a far off corner can be beautiful in the right collection. You can also see if your favorite Instagram artists sell prints online. Some of our favorites are @steph_angelis, @jooleeloren, and @gretchenroehers. Then, check out our tips for styling your gallery wall.
Show Your Walls Some Love:
January 13: Explore Your Hobbies to Maximize Your Free Time
If you stretched yourself dangerously thin in 2016, prevent burnout by reinvesting in a passion project or exploring a new activity you’ve been wanting to try. True, you may not have more free time in 2017, but you can practice using what little free time you do have in a more rewarding way. The busier you are, the more important it is to calibrate. For this reason, we asked busy blogger, entrepreneur, and new mom Kate Arends of Wit & Delight to share some of the mantras and tips that motivate her to find time to practice her hobbies. Her motto—“If it doesn’t scare me a little, I’m not terribly interested”—is one we can totally get behind.
With that in mind, consider going after a project or passion outside of your comfort zone. This year, Arends plans on making time for floral arranging; it’s relaxing, and it also helps her be more present and focused. To devote her full attention to her new hobby, keeping phones and devices out of reach is particularly important—except for her Fossil Q Smartwatch, which keeps her connected without the jarring distractions other tech accessories can create. Notifications pop up on the customizable watch face, making it simple to separate important alerts from the ones you want to save for later (all while creating the perfect bouquet).
If you aren’t sure where to begin, look for a class or workshop in your area. Ideas include signing up for watercolor lessons, taking a guided meditation class, or joining a book club. A word of advice: You’ll look forward to practicing your hobby of choice even more if you put together a playlist that puts you in a joyful mood. Whatever you decide to take up this year, remember that it’s incredibly important to keep flexing those creative muscles (even ones you didn’t know you had). After all, being creative and making time for hobbies has real payoffs; new challenges encourage you to develop problem-solving techniques you can apply to other areas in your life.
Build Your Creative Space:
January 12: Create a Financial Plan to Start Saving
Because socializing often involves some degree of spending, it’s difficult to prioritize your savings account while also saying yes to every invitation that pops up. If you want to create a financial plan that helps you save and also allows for a robust social life, you’re in the right place. First, identify your budget by writing down your monthly income, and then tally your fixed expenses. Next, deduct the latter from the former. Then plan out your social calendar to see what you can comfortably spend on while also having enough leftover to save. There are a few apps that can help out, like Mint.
Considering the budget you’ve calculated, mark the catch-up sessions, dates, and group dinners you can’t miss in your personal calendar. Leave flexibility for “me” time and spontaneous invitations that may arise. To minimize spending, suggest a cheaper restaurant or opt for Uber Pool instead of UberX on a night out. If something is simply out of your budget, then power through the FOMO by planning a low-cost activity. For example, if Coachella is unaffordable, go on a hike with others who aren’t going either, and plan a fun potluck or house party. Reward yourself with something special that costs a fraction of the price. The amount you transfer to your savings account can be as small or large as your budget allows—just make sure you maintain the habit when you get your paycheck.
Get the Tools to Help You Save:
January 11: Switch Up Your Dating Routine
Are you coupled up, casually dating, or happily single? Regardless of whether you’re committed to a partner or your sofa, consider shaking up your routine without necessarily changing your relationship status. Perhaps that means going on a dating cleanse if you feel drained or enjoy being single, planning an adventurous day with your partner, or simply downloading a dating app if you’ve been afraid to get back out there after a hiatus or breakup.
Here are a few outside-the-box ideas and adventures to get your plans going: Head to an art exhibit, hike to a lookout point, organize a divey bar hop, or check out a performance—anything from a poetry slam to an escape room or a comedy show, an edgy concert, or a classic symphony. Whether you decide to do an activity with your significant other, on first date, or for a solo ride, make sure you choose something that’s the polar opposite of what you’d normally do.
Set the Mood:
January 10: Organize Your Desk for a More Productive Day
Shop Workspace Essentials:
If you want to be more productive while you work, consider giving your desk a makeover. The key is to make sure your environment is conducive to both creative projects and detail-oriented tasks. This balance can be tricky to achieve, so we decided to call on Arends, also a graphic designer, for some stylish solutions. She says to start by thinking about the essentials, which in today’s digital age usually means technology. Laptops, cell phones, and smartwatches can be more distracting than helpful, but they can be legitimate tools if you learn to stay on task. Arends uses her Fossil Q Smartwatch to help her stay organized and be more efficient. Her favorite features are email notifications, which allow her to read a quick email without digging for her phone, and calendar alerts, which keep her schedule organized.
Next, focus on your desk décor. Start by making two piles: one of the items you want to keep and the other of things you want to toss. Arends’s rule of thumb? “If it’s not something you use every day, put it out of sight.” Sort through any loose papers first. If they’re important documents, tuck them away in a filing cabinet, and recycle the rest. Opt to display items that are both stylish and practical, like a chic notebook, a water pitcher, a pen holder, noise-canceling headphones, or a small plant. Another cause of clutter is loose cords. Since we can’t go totally wireless yet, Arends suggests, “using Velcro ties and a little bit of colorful washi tape”—which will ensure your cords are a little more pleasing to the eye.
January 9: Make Time to Keep Up With News
Not everyone likes to keep up with the news, especially those who are busy or get overwhelmed by negative media coverage. That being said, staying informed with current events has a ton of rewards (yes, it can actually be fun). Or, if you read sections that pique your interest, you can become an expert in a new field, putting you on a successful track to building your career. The type of thinking involved will also keep your brain sharp and your memory robust. Beyond that, learning about distant parts of the world or communities outside of your own will help you understand your role as a global citizen. Make things easier by downloading an app like Quartz so you can check it on your phone during your commute. Alternatively, listen to NPR while you drive, subscribe to The New York Times, and sign up for TheSkimm’s e-newsletter, which makes dense content cheeky and engaging. For more culturally focused satirical articles, The Onion is a favorite, and The New Yorker’s opinion pieces and fiction sections are top-notch.
Carry It With You or Read at Home:
January 8: Learn a Healthy Cocktail Recipe
When it comes to healthy living, you don’t have to cut out all the fun stuff. Enjoying a cocktail here and there is fine—especially if you make it a nutritious one. Having a healthy cocktail is the most effortless adjustment you can make without compromising your lifestyle. In Goop’s newest wellness book, Goop Clean Beauty, Frank Lipman, MD, recommends opting for drinks that have smaller serving sizes but higher alcohol content (i.e., limit the beer and wine).
Another MyDomaine-approved secret? Skip the sugary tonics and reach for seltzer or soda water instead. For flavor, forget juice, syrup, and soda, but feel free to be heavy-handed when it comes to fresh squeezes of citrus. Try Minimalist Baker’s delicious alternative that calls for antioxidant-rich hibiscus tea, tequila, a squeeze of lime, ice, and a dash of agave, if you insist. Oh, and we can definitely get behind that hot pink hue. Cheers!
Shop the Kitchen Essentials:
January 7: Opt for a Book Instead of TV
If you’ve spent a weekend watching an entire season of television (we’ve all been there), there’s a reason you felt more sluggish than you did before the binge session. According to a study from the University of South Carolina, sedentary behavior slows down your metabolism and circulation. To feel well rested after your downtime, opt for an activity that keeps you mentally engaged, relaxed, and entertained without sacrificing your health. Instead of watching three episodes of an hour-long show, spend one hour reading and another catching up with a friend, take 30 minutes to get organized, and use the last half-hour to get some fresh air. To stay committed, make sure to give yourself a reading deadline so you’re able to finish a book every week or two. If you need structure, try joining a book club.
Create a Chic Reading Nook:
January 6: Say No to Toxic Relationships
Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that self-respect and personal growth are integral to our health and happiness. As such, they should take priority. With the weekend approaching, it’s a perfect time to reflect on relationships. Since you can only control your own behavior, it’s important to invest in the people who make you behave like your best self. That being said, the most difficult part of cutting out toxic relationships is being able to see the toxicity to begin with. Pro tip: Look for patterns in this person’s behavior; if they repeatedly put you down, discourage you, or take advantage of your generosity, it’s probably time to say good riddance. On the other hand, be honest with yourself and ask if your own expectations are fair.
Once you identify which relationships are toxic, you can take action to make effective changes. It’s up to you whether you slowly distance yourself to create temporary space or if you want to initiate a direct conversation. With the latter, make your intentions clear but don’t expect the other person to have a happy reaction. Regardless, try your best to be diplomatic about it, especially if you share a lot of mutual friends. This requires much patience and mental strength, but in the end, the reward is that you free yourself of this person to be a healthier, happier version of yourself. Plus, you’ll have more time to foster other relationships and put the fun back in friendship.
Get the Good Vibes Going:
January 5: Get Involved With a Meaningful Cause
Get serious about giving back to a cause or community in 2017. Find a nonprofit organization or agency you really believe in and get ready to engage with it. Do you have a passion for education equality? Try Reading Partners or The Girl Effect. Environmentalism? Look into the Sierra Club. Or take on a more nuanced approach that caters to your specific passions, priorities, and concerns. For example, if you strongly believe in food justice, sign up for a community garden plot within a food desert. What about domestic abuse prevention? Get involved with the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Would you rather contribute to a mental health outreach program? Participate in an Out of the Darkness Walk. Want to do something about the human rights crisis in Aleppo? Check out this comprehensive list of actionable strategies from UpWorthy. Do you want to dismantle rape culture and empower survivors? Sign up for the Slut Walk and Take Back the Night. Whatever you choose, make sure the organization’s mission statement aligns with your own beliefs and interests. According to participatory action research studies, this will keep you committed to the cause. As a result of being passionate and well informed, you’ll find more meaning in the experience and thereby have a greater impact on the community in need.
Get Organized While You Research:
January 4: Plan a Trip to a Place on Your Bucket List
So the holiday vacation has come and gone. Whether you stayed home or treated yourself to the getaway of your dreams, chances are you’ll need another break at some point this year. To ensure you spend your precious downtime doing something exciting, plan ahead. If you don’t have a travel bucket list yet, start doing some research to figure out what types of trips and destinations excite you. This will make the planning process fun rather than stressful since there’s a payoff in sight. If you already have a travel bucket list, figure out which destinations you can feasibly visit in the coming months by following the steps below.
Start by physically laying out a 2017 calendar as a visual aid while you consider the best time to take vacation days. This foresight is crucial so you can actually enjoy your vacation. While you choose the time to take your trip, make sure you also look into the best time of the year to visit your destination of choice. Next, you’ll need to map out finances. From accommodations to transportation and spending money on extras, make sure you consider everything while writing out your budget. And if your vacation goals end up seeming like they’d blow your budget, start saving your money in advance. Alternatively, figure out what parts of the trip are worth the splurge, and then cut back on the things that won’t make or break your trip.
Travel in Style:
January 3: Find a Stress-Management System
Before you set out to pursue new challenges, make sure your stress levels are in check by figuring out how to cope with life’s biggest pressures. Developing better ways to manage stressful situations will ultimately allow you to achieve the rest of your goals this year. First, determine how stress and anxiety manifest themselves in your daily life. Do they make you feel angry or aloof? Immobile or impatient? Sad or jittery? Next, find the right platform to channel those emotions.
That could mean trying a one-minute breathing exercise every day, practicing a full hour of yoga, going on a run, or trying a coloring book (for adults). There’s a different stress-management tool for everyone, so set aside some time to find yours. To get you started, here are four quick ways to get rid of stress.
Practice Different Coping Mechanisms:
January 2: Clean Out the Fridge
If you’re serious about living a healthier life in 2017, make things easier by getting rid of anything unhealthy in the kitchen so you won’t be tempted. Between all the delivery orders you’ve placed to escape the cold and the holiday parties you’ve attended (or hosted), your fridge is probably full of treats and forgotten mystery sauces. If you haven’t done a thorough cleanup since last New Year’s, now’s the time to take on the challenge.
If you have a low tolerance for the smell of soon-to-be-rotten food, this task is particularly unpleasant. But it’s a lot easier if you have a plan of action. Tackle it one shelf at a time, keep a trash bag on deck, and light a candle to counteract any stink. Before you place your keepers back inside the fridge, wipe down all surfaces with cleaning product and a lint-free towel. Now you can say hello to a shiny new home for those superfoods you’ve been meaning to try (jackfruit, we’re looking at you). Or if you’re interested in a detox, we suggest the soup cleanse.
Shop the Cleaning Essentials:
January 1: Reflect, and Set Your Intentions
Take advantage of New Year’s Day by organizing your thoughts vis-à-vis bullet journaling. Or opt for long-form if there’s a lot on your mind. The benefits of journaling are endless, from emotional healing to creative inspiration. If you haven’t ever kept a personal journal, start by asking yourself what worked in 2016 and what didn’t—what do you want to take with you, and what do you want to leave behind? Get into the writing groove by making a list of what you learned this year.
Don’t worry about lofty, empirical goals or resolutions just yet. A rough to-do list is a great place to start. If you gather your thoughts about what you want (however small or big), you can figure out what your next steps should be. And when you initiate this conversation with yourself, the only rule is to have candor and transparency. No one else has to see your notes, so journal away!
Get the Chic Journaling Tools:
Once you try each tip, let us know what you think. We’re always on the lookout for inspiration, too, so feel free to share your own resolutions with us in the comments below!