With the start of a new year, it makes sense that some people will try to find new ways to make their lives easier and better — and one of the best ways of doing this is by incorporating new habits into your daily routine.
So, we asked the BuzzFeed Community to share the small and doable habits that actually made a difference for their mental and physical health (that didn't involve going to the gym), and the responses were truly unique. Here's what they had to say below:
1. "Schedule in things I want to do, even on busy days. I would only focus on getting the house stuff done (i.e. laundry, cleaning, etc.) and tell myself I can relax once I get that stuff done. Before I knew it, it was 8 p.m. on Sunday, and I had been working all weekend and had not relaxed at all. I started making a schedule that included the house stuff and some me time. Just having it already planned into my day made sure I would stop and get some time to recharge. Even if it was only an hour of video games in the morning and an hour at night to watch TV, those small windows have really helped me find a balance and not feel burnt out going back to work on Monday."
2. "I set a goal for myself to reach out to a friend or family member twice a week. I was meeting that goal, so now, I’m going for every day. It can be making plans, sharing something that happened in my life, or just checking in. It was especially important to me because I just got into a new relationship, and I don’t want to neglect all my friends because I’m in love."
3. "I have a soft board where everyone in my family writes and pins the funniest, strangest, and weirdest things said in our house, heard or read by us out in the world, or done by our pets. I read one every now and then as I pass the wall, and it always brightens my day."
4. "Every year since 2021, I set a goal to work on all year. In 2022, I went to all the sites managed by the National Park Service in my state. This year, I’m becoming a master gardener. Having that year-long goal that is completely driven by my hobbies and interests gives me purpose and meaning outside of my stressful work life (I'm a teacher). I’m also remaining a lifelong learner because my goal usually means I’m learning new and cool stuff."
—Kim, 42, New Mexico
5. "I knew for years that I was pretty cynical and negative about a lot of things, but it wasn’t until last year during a therapy session that I realized what a negative perception I had of myself. My therapist challenged me to spend three minutes a day writing down a list of things that made me feel good/appreciative/happy/etc. That was it, that was all I had to do. After almost a month, she asked how it was going. I actually smiled thinking about it and said, 'Well, I don’t know if it’s changing anything, but I actually really like doing it each day…like, I look forward to writing these things down.'”
6. "I programmed the 'do not disturb' mode on my phone from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. every day. I've also deactivated ALL notifications from my phone, except the ones that come from the very few people I have in my 'favorites' list. Total game-changer for my mental health!"
7. "I had the sweetest and kindest adviser in undergrad. She always said, 'Thank you for...' instead of just 'thanks' or 'thanks a lot,' and it taught me how to express appreciation. Speak kindness to others. They may thank you for it."
8. "I started doing things immediately after work, while I'm still in 'Get Shit Done' mode. Granted, it does help that I work from home so there's no downtime during a commute to lose motivation. I get up from my computer, go directly to wash a load of dishes, and then tidy up before I get distracted by anything else. It only takes about 30 minutes, and it has really helped keep things neat and clean, which helps lower my stress because there's no clutter giving me anxiety! I've also relegated laundry to Sunday and allowed myself to just veg out between loads. Knowing I have a day that's 90% chill to look forward to is helpful, too!"
9. "I got a toilet paper holder with a pivoting arm. It's easy to replace the roll (tip arm up, put the roll on, and lay arm back down), and there's no worry the spring-loaded retractable center spool that you THINK is in place defies you by flying away and flinging your fresh roll of TP at the gross base of your toilet. I appreciate mine every time I change the roll, and we've had it for over five years."
10. "As a chronic migraine sufferer, I'm disabled, and my days kind of blur together. So, I've taken up the habit of enjoying my morning coffee on my back porch every day. Getting some vitamin D and just enjoying a slow morning. Makes me feel peaceful."
—Anonymous, 38, Oregon
11. "I just try to make three healthy choices a day, and those choices can be ANYTHING! Sometimes, it’s as small as drinking an extra glass of water or as big as washing the dishes. I even count taking my medication or going to the doctor. I feel accomplished, I have the freedom to choose, and I have variety. It’s really helped my physical and mental health."
12. "Smile at yourself whenever you pass a mirror. I started doing this during lockdown when I hardly saw anyone and could go days without smiling. It releases endorphins that make you feel good, which you then associate with seeing your own smile. I now no longer feel self-conscious about my smile in pictures and am overall happier. Even if you only do it once every day before bed, I would definitely recommend it."
—Anonymous, 29, UK
13. "I drink rooibos (herb) tea every morning before starting on coffee. It's such a tiny change but has made my skin clear and improves my morning every time."
14. "Creating and sticking to a schedule to clean one or two rooms of my house every weekday. I'm single, and I just bought a house. I was overwhelmed by the idea of keeping it clean. I stumbled upon an idea to create a schedule. Every weekday morning, I wake up before work and clean one or two rooms of my house. By the end of the week, my house is clean, and I have the weekend to do yard work or whatever else I need to do. If I keep on top of it, it doesn't even take me more than 30 minutes each morning."
—Anonymous, 31, US