1. Go to bed every single night with one specific goal for the following day. Even something as simple as “get to work five minutes earlier than yesterday” makes getting out of bed feel a lot more purposeful, and going to sleep feel a lot more satisfying, when you’ve achieved what you wanted to.
2. Find a podcast about a topic you know nothing about. Whether you listen to it on the commute to work or play it while you’re doing busy work at your desk, it feels so good to finally light a spark in an area of your mind that has been dormant for a while.
3. Put together a to-do list of classic movies to watch. You know, the ones you told yourself you’d get around to but still haven’t seen. I put my list together from AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies. Nothing is more fun than finally hearing some of the most famous lines of all time from their original sources.
5. Do something by yourself that you’d normally do with a friend. Go to the movies or to a comedy show or to the park or to a cafe by yourself, and just enjoy the fact that after a few (sometimes uncomfortable) minutes, you actually start to enjoy the alone time.
6. Write. For some people, this can mean pages and pages of journaling. But if you don’t consider yourself a writer, just buy a notebook and get in the habit of writing one – just one – sentence per day of something that happened to you, something you learned, or just something you find interesting.
7. Pick up a hobby that will provide you with a sense of accomplishment. Gardening, walking, learning a new language, baking, investing in the stock market, reading, studying classic films. The possibilities are endless, and the hours required are flexible. Just find something that gives you the opportunity to finally think about stuff outside of work and your relationships.
8. Find your quiet time. People often think this has to mean meditating in the middle of an empty space in some kind of yoga position. But you can find your quiet time anywhere. Try driving in the car for ten minutes in silence, or sitting on the train without looking at your phone, or going on a walk and bringing nothing with you. Don’t worry about finding your thoughts. They’ll find you.
9. Buy a really good, high-quality pair of slippers. And make sure they’re the first thing you put on when you walk in the door.
10. And buy yourself some jersey-knit sheets while you’re at it. They are a game changer. Seriously.
11. Learn how to cook. Not grilled cheese or scrambled eggs. But actual, multi-step, recipe-required meals. As annoying and tedious as cooking can be (speaking from experience here), it can also be incredibly relaxing and rewarding to know that you can throw together something really delicious for yourself.
12. Get in the habit of doing small, easy exercises every day. For me, it’s a quick round of sit-ups and crunches. But lunges or jumping jacks or even simple stretching are just as good for you. If, like me, you dread doing even the tiniest amount of physical activity, keep a note in your phone where you mark down each day that you’ve managed to follow through. Seeing a tangible list in front of you of your progress will seriously help you to hold yourself accountable.
13. Make your bed every single day. It’s such a fast and easy way to make your living space feel clean, bright, and relaxed.
14. Get yourself a really nice coffee mug, or wine glass, or even just a reusable water tumblr with a straw. Having a favorite cup that you always pull out when you wake up or come home brings a surprisingly large amount of comfort and contentment to such a small, everyday action.
15. Find a “secret spot.” It doesn’t have to literally mean ‘secret.’ It can be as out in the open as you’d like. But find somewhere that’s secret to you, somewhere you vow never to take anyone else, where you can just think, or read, or sip on a coffee.
16. Watch a new TED talk every week on something you want to be inspired by or learn more about. From inequality to psychology to language, there is a plethora of choices.
17. Focus on your own story rather than worrying about everybody else’s. We all struggle with trying not to get too caught up in everyone else’s lives on social media, but remember that the more you concentrate on living your own life and carving your own way, the less you’ll be worrying about what everyone else is doing.
18. Learn to find the perfect balance between being financially responsible, and treating yourself. The smarter you are with your money, the more you’ll be able to relax when you do decide to order in some delicious takeout or make an appointment to get a much-needed massage.
19. Get better at staying in touch with the people you care about. Enjoying your own company doesn’t mean you can’t call up your parents or one of your college besties when you feel like catching up. Start making a conscious effort to reach out to the people you love; that way, when you are feeling lonely, you’ll know there are people out there that you can always count on to bring you back.
20. Do one thing at a time. Don’t watch The Bachelorette while checking emails while chatting on the phone with your BFF while flipping through a magazine. Most of the time that we’re supposed to be relaxing never ends up being relaxing, because we’re doing too many things at once and forcing our brain to go from thing to thing to thing. When you want to watch a show, sit back and watch a show. When you want to talk on the phone, be in the conversation. Allow yourself to do one activity at a time and force your brain to become comfortable with not trying to juggle five things simultaneously.
21. Spend your time doing kind things for others. Mail a care package to your sibling with the stressful teaching job. Give up your seat on the bus to the weary-looking mother. Buy a coffee for the person in line behind you. Look out for simple ways to make other people’s lives better, and enjoy the high that it gives you every time.
22. Have a meal once in a while where all you do is eat. No television, no iPad, no phone, no laptop. Just you and your fork and knife, forcing your senses to actually appreciate the food that you’re eating and the rare opportunity to sit by yourself and do nothing else.
23. Read a book on a topic you have very little knowledge of. Similar to the podcast activity, it doesn’t have to be boring. Just choose something you don’t typically gravitate towards, whether it’s a celebrity memoir or a World War II novel or a nonfiction book about the science of food. Pick something that interests you but also ignites an area of your brain that you don’t typically use.
24. Solidify your routines. Humans derive extreme comfort from routine, repetition, and consistency. So if you love watching the Kardashians every Sunday, always pair it with a favorite dessert. If you shower every morning before work, put your slippers right outside the door so you can slide into them on the way back into your bedroom. If you are trying to stay more up-to-date with the news, read it every morning at your desk before you begin work. Find as many opportunities as you can to work routine into your everyday life.
25. Be conscious of how you’re spending your time. It’s really, really easy to waste two hours clicking from link to link on your computer or phone with absolutely no purpose whatsoever. Pay attention to what seems to be catching your attention, and whether or not it’s actually worth it to read up on 7 Celebrities Who Have Extremely Weird Eating Habits.
26. Simplify your surroundings. Maintain a (practically) clutter-free living space. Go through your mail immediately when you receive it. Clean out your closet. Get rid of the things you haven’t worn in the last 8-12 months. Only buy items that you truly want and have thought about. Avoid impulse purchases. Be aware of your surroundings, rather than just letting things pile up around you because you’re too afraid to get rid of anything. And appreciate the peace of mind that this behavior provides.
27. Force yourself to have downtime at night, away from any and all screens. Shut off any eye-straining, LED-type devices before bed and open a novel, turn on a podcast, download an audio book, or do anything else that gives your mind and your eyes the opportunity to calm down and relax.
28. Get in the habit of taking supplements. Iron, Vitamin D, whatever you need to feel good. Because when you have your health, you have everything.
29. Take a staycation. Book a hotel room for one or just call in sick to work and spend the day at the park, at the spa, or walking around and exploring your city. It’s a lovely and refreshing way to remind yourself that it’s often easier than it seems to escape the monotony that your life can sometimes sink into.
30. Maintain a constant mindset of gratitude. The longer you do it, the more natural it will become, and soon you’ll learn that anywhere you look in your life, there is something to be thankful for.