1. Give yourself the emotional break you need. We work so hard to prove to others that we are worth it and prove to yourselves that we matter. Start realizing you have nothing to prove.
2. Recognize the joy in small things. Some days, when it rains yet again or the weather isn’t as temperate as the forecast promised, it can be hard to see the good in the world. On those days, don’t try to see the good in everything. See the good in something small, like a great cup of coffee.
3. Make up with someone with whom you’ve been putting off a reconciliation. Be the person who picks up the phone to reach out. We sometimes hate ourselves for caving first, as if you get a prize for holding out. You outlasted. However, I think you should get a prize for forgvieness. They give people medals for synchronized swimming. Why not for working to preserve a friendship or relationship? That’s the Olympic spirit we should be honoring, our marathons of interpersonal marriages.
4. Work on being nicer to yourself. Whenever I let myself down or screw up, I have a bad habit of repeating, “You’re an asshole. You’re such a motherfucking asshole,” until I believe it. We need to stop being our own worst enemies.
5. Look at the messages you feed yourself every day. What is your media telling you about your body and your self-worth?
6. Stop looking at self-improvement as a once-a-year resolution. Start seeing it as a long-term, year-round commitment to emotional and physical wellness.
7. Listen to your parents and friends more often and trust them with your problems, while also remembering to be true to yourself and your own instincts. Start to listen to the voices around you but realize that none is more powerful than your own.
8. Let your body get as much rest as it needs. Don’t tell yourself that you’re “only going to get 5 hours” because you have work to do or want to get ahead of this deadline. If you can feel the tension getting to you, give your body what it needs. Don’t set your alarm and let your body tell you when it wants to wake up. Just make sure you have no important tests to miss in the process.
9. Face yourself in the mirror for a solid minute and just look at yourself smiling. Sometimes we have to be reminded how beautiful our happiness looks to remember why committing to wellness is so important.
10. Don’t go to the gym today. We’re always so focused on pushing ourselves to the limit that I often worry we forget to let ourselves play hooky or hang out with the little kid inside us. You don’t always have to be the person who drinks protein shakes. You’re allowed to eat the pizza or not make every goal you set for yourself this week. Let yourself be human.
11. Embrace your mistakes. Everything in the universe was created imperfect, built with the capacity for atrophy and decay. When you screw up, remember that you have the universe inside you. This is part of the plan.
12. Don’t talk about it. We can often become so focused on healing that we become obsessed with our own progress. Invite someone over with whom you can just be comfortable with and not talk it out.
13. Stop putting off that vacation, even if just a small one. Go somewhere. It can be somewhere in your own city or state if you don’t have the funds to travel. Visit your friend on the far north side of the city, that you’ve never even been to, or go be with your family in the burbs. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to celebrate your capacity to explore, take risks and discover new things, even the ones that were right in front of you all along.
14. Remember to balance. Stay home if you feel like you’ve been going out too much, or if you feel like you’ve been a homebody recently, recommit to your friendships. Strive to be person who lives the happy medium.
15. Practice positivity. You can start by looking at how you react to things. Are you a person who immediately moves to pessimism and self-doubt when faced with an obstacle? If so, take steps to change your perspective. Learn to embrace these challenges as an opportunity for growth through struggle.
16. Let go of things. It doesn’t have to be something huge. It can be dropping your change on the subway and not getting it back. Don’t look at every mishap as a life-altering setback. Remember not just that you cannot change things but that five years down the road, you probably wouldn’t want to change it if you could. Every mistake made now will look like a learning opportunity later.
17. Rely on yourself more. We often think that we are weak and cannot do it on our own. We think we can’t sew, can’t do this or that. We become interdependent in ways that teach us to cherish the resources of our community, but also sometimes hold us back from providing for ourselves. We need to trust in our ability to take charge of our lives and be the one who is in control, whether that’s changing the lightbulb or being proactive about improvement.
18. Laugh at yourself. Don’t take yourself so seriously all the time.
19. Work on someone else’s healing. Sometimes we get perspective and wisdom from being a witness to somebody else’s pain and struggle and being an agent in their betterment. We learn about ourselves through watching others face problems that are both like ours and every different from ours. While we journey, we must remember to be present to those around us and also walk with them. You can walk alone, but don’t travel alone.
20. Believe in people again. Surround yourself with those who don’t accept your guarded cynicism, the people who remind you how beautiful life can be. Even when the world is at its worst, we need those who help us to see its potential, who fill us with hope. We need to be with those working to clean it up and make it better.
21. Find new ways to pray. A Facebook post told me yesterday to pray for Boston. I don’t believe in God or pray with my hands, so I pray by keeping my heart open. I don’t care how you pray: whether you pray by smiling at strangers, by striving to make the world a better place, by updating your status, by reminding your mother how much you appreciate her or by reflecting on the victims of violence worldwide (the many whose losses go undocumented). Send your love, however you can. The world needs more love every day, but especially today.