Dr. Kristen Mitteness
19 Ways to Grow in 2019
Updated: Nov 26, 2021
Are New Year's resolutions your thing? Regardless if you are into making changes in the new year, on Mondays or whenever, chances are, you probably have room to grow. Here are 19 things I have implemented in my life that you might be interested in, too.
1. Get adequate sleep. You will die faster from lack of sleep then you will from lack of food. Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep for their bodies to full repair itself overnight. The busier or more active you are, the more sleep you need. I am well aware this one is tough for new parents. But, if you are able, getting enough sleep is the cheapest and quickest way to live a healthier life. If you need a few tips on getting a better sleep, check this article out.
2. Learn a new recipe. The more confident we become in the kitchen, the better chance of us actually eating good quality food. When you eat good food, the rest of your life can grow exponentially because you'll feel better, think clearer and look healthier. If you have kiddos, this is a great way to get them on the path to eating healthier, too.
3. Find movement you enjoy. Getting exercise in your life doesn't have to be awful. In fact, the more you enjoy it, the better chance you'll stick with it! Do you enjoy being with other people? Maybe a group fitness class or walking with a friend is your thing. Do you like catching up on your latest podcast? Maybe jumping on the bike with your favorite podcast or music will get you pumped up. Do you love dogs? Volunteer to walk dogs at the local pet shelter. Exercise and movement shouldn't suck. Find something you enjoy and simply get moving!
4. Be an active part of a community. Your community might be your friends, gym, work, church, book club, whatever. It doesn't matter where you find community, just be sure to play an active part. More and more studies are determining that people who live the longest and are the happiest, are part of some form of community. Humans are traditionally tribal yet we find ourselves in solitude too often. Go find your tribe and love them hard.
5. Track your money for a month. It's estimated that you'll need upwards of $2 million in savings to retire. Are you on track for that? You better start working on it soon if you want it to happen. The earlier you can start saving, the more money you can acquire. Compound interest is a real thing. Most of us spend money on things we really don't need. And most of us don't even realize it until we start actually paying attention. Track all of the money you spend and all of the money you make for a minimum of one month. I would even challenge you to do this for a whole year.
6. Let yourself go hungry. When is the last time you felt hungry? We have such quick access to food right now that actually feeling hungry doesn't happen very often. It's okay to be hungry. In fact, if your insulin levels are stable, when you get hungry, you'll be able to recognize it and still live your life normally. Are you someone who can too easily relate to becoming hangry? That's a sign you are well on your way to poor food choices and diabetes. The more you practice being okay when it's been 6+ hours without food, the better your body and brain will function in the long term.
7. Practice an old skill or learn a new one. You're busy, I know. I'm busy, too. We've gotten into a state of being perpetually busy. We need to stop this! What is something you used to love to do that you no longer make time for? What is something you've been wanting to do for so long but haven't found the time? Go do that thing. Chances are, it'll bring a little extra joy into your life.
8. Read a book. How much time did you spend looking at your phone or computer today? Go pick up a real book and get lost in it. Fiction can bring you into worlds you'll never actually visit, expose you to people you'll never actually meet, teach you empathy in ways you've never imagined and feel all of the feelings. Non-fiction will educate you in something you love so you can share that knowledge with others. Rent a book from your local library for free, borrow a book from a friend or go visit your favorite local bookstore. Here are a few of my favorites from the past year.
9. Tell yourself something nice. What if you recognized all of the awesome things you do? What if you told yourself good job after you accomplished that incredible thing? What if you took 2 minutes at the end of every day to find something you are proud of? What if you talked to yourself in the same way you talk to your best friend? Chances are, that thing you accidentally did was not stupid. Chances are that thing that felt like a big screw up, actually wasn't a big deal to anyone else. Focus on the good things you do. Be gentle and kind to yourself like you are to everyone else. You deserve it.
10. Complement someone else. The world can always use a little more kindness. Be part of that. When you think something nice about someone, tell them! You will probably make his or her day. Spread the kindness. Look for the good in others. You'll be amazed at how much better you feel after that.
11. Give something away. Most of us have plenty of stuff we really don't need. Whether it's house goods, clothing, electronics, food or pet stuff, go through your belongings and find a few things that could be put to better use by someone else. Donate them to a local shelter. Are they clothes that no one can use? NA-KD has some suggestions. Or make a few dollars. Places like Plato's Closet pay you for clothing and accessories that are in stellar shape.
12. Get outside. Nature, which I lovingly call Vitamin N, does a pretty good job of providing the soul something you can't get anywhere else. Spending some time in nature has been found to make us healthier, happier and even more creative! You don't have to take my word for it. Go for a walk in the woods and just try being mad.
13. Write down your goals. Research is now showing that the odds of reaching your goal increases when it is written down. Writing it down makes it more real then simply thinking about it. Referring back to it often, helps reinforce your actions that will get you there. That can keep it top of mind so you can actively work toward it often. Writing something down helps you remember it, too. And you have to physically write it down. Typing it out on your computer or in your phone doesn't count.
14. Eat a better breakfast. What you eat for your first meal of the day is, hands down, the most important food choice you will make all day. It's the first thing you will eat after your longest fast (hence break-fast). It will set your hormones up for a slow, steady increase in insulin (quality fats and proteins, ie bacon and eggs) or it will sky rocket your blood sugar which will crash just a few hours later leaving you hangry and craving caffeine (processed carbohydrates, ie cereal, bagels, pancakes). And I don't care if you eat your breakfast at 6:00 am or 2:00 pm. As long as it's filled with quality fat, protein and maybe some veggies.
15. Replace one of your beauty products or toiletries with a safer alternative. Have you ever read the ingredient list on your shampoo, soap or make up? After you do that, go look it up on the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep site to see how it rates in terms of toxicity. You might be surprised at what you find. You might think that just because it is on your skin, it won't affect you, but you would be wrong. Your skin absorbs what you put on it. And if you use a product in the shower, the steam increases the amount of toxins you will inhale into your lungs. Many products we use in our bathroom on a daily basis are affecting our hormones. A good friend of mine became involved with Beauty Counter and wrote this awesome post for me. Your choice of beauty products also has an effect on the environment.
16. Explore your own backyard. We sometimes get too comfortable in our own space. We look at the town or city we live in through a different lens then we do when we travel. I would challenge you to try to look at your own area like a tourist. Where would you go? What would you do? You will find some hidden gems and hopefully appreciate exactly where you are rather than wish you were somewhere else.
17. Go a full day (or weekend) without social media. The new iPhone update keeps track of your screen time and tells you how much of that time you are spending within each app. Have you checked your stats out? You may (or may not) be surprised. What would it be like to spend a whole day away from these apps? You might find yourself doing a few things you didn't think you had time for. Your day will probably involve some more face to face interaction. Go ahead. Give it a try and see what you find out about yourself.
18. If it will take 5 minutes or less, do it right now. There are a ton of small tasks that we need to do every day that most people put off: making the bed, washing your dishes, emptying the dishwasher, folding laundry, putting the groceries away, picking out your clothes for the morning, etc, etc. Doing these small tasks in the moment, will not only make you more productive, it will create better habits that will make your life easier. Someone even wrote a whole book about it! When you choose to do these things immediately, rather then scrolling through your Instagram, you will build up the mental resilience to be more productive overall. What is one thing you have been putting off doing that will only take 5 minutes to accomplish? Go do it.
19. Stop hitting snooze. If you are getting up to an alarm, be sure to actually get up. It is the first task you have to do in the morning. Are you really going to choose to fail at the only thing you have had to do so far today?! How do you think the rest of your day will pan out when you actually get up when your alarm goes off? How do you think your day can change if commit to yourself to get up when you decided it was appropriate. Your yesterday self thought this time was a good time to get up. Why is your today self saying no? Do you actually think you are getting quality sleep when you are being interrupted every 9 minutes? Not only have you failed your first task of the day, your quality of sleep during this time is not very helpful and might result in you feeling more groggy. Give it a go. Stop hitting snooze.