April 2019: Happiness Project Recap

I say this every month, but it’s honestly crazy to think that we are already at the end of April! I gave a quick recap of my month in last night’s Link Love post, but for those of you who are just catching up, April has been overall a whole lot better than March in terms of my happiness project. 🙂

If you’re new here, a quick summary: For the year of 2019, I decided to embark on a 12-month long happiness project, inspired by habits and happiness author Gretchen Rubin. Each month follows a different theme, and at the end of the month, I share my results and findings. January focused on boosting physical wellness, February focused on decluttering and creating outer order, and March focused on practicing mindfulness. You can click the links to follow along and find out how I did!

My April theme was a little different: Slow Down and Lighten Up. This goal was, in part, inspired by hyggeor the Danish concept of contentment through coziness and comfort. This month, I incorporated the following practices:

  • Enjoy a cup of tea in the morning.
  • Light candles or diffuse essential oils after work.
  • Under-react to a problem.
  • Take time to be silly.
  • Laugh out loud.

April 2019: Happiness Project Recap | Wellness & Wanderlust

So how did I do? While I fell short on some of my goals, I really enjoyed the month of April! I found myself in the practice of brewing a hot cup of tea to settle down and unwind (not always in the morning, though!), and I really enjoyed the ritual of drinking my tea and doing a little reading at home or outside when the time allowed. On days when life was busier, I stopped in the break room downstairs at work for hot water and drank tea at my desk, but I tried to incorporate that as a calming tradition as much as possible and it really did stick. Prioritizing those few minutes to unwind and refocus was truly a lifesaver in a month that otherwise included its share of burnout. I also loved incorporating aroma into my day, whether I lit a candle in the evenings or diffused some lavender or peppermint.

The other three items were a little harder, especially #3. Under-reacting to a problem felt terribly counterintuitive, but on the days I did it, it really did help. This is something that will take some practice for me. Laughing out loud and taking time to be silly were not always high on my priority list, but when things got hard, looking at a funny Instagram page (hello, Obvious Plant!) or watching an episode of Family Guy definitely helped distract from the seriousness from it all and allowed me to take a step back.

This month’s practices were much needed, and I’d like to continue focusing on lightening up and slowing down throughout the remainder of the year. One great way to do that will be through May’s theme of making time for friends, which will consist of the following:

  • Practice “reverse gossip.”
  • Remember birthdays.
  • Show up.
  • Be generous.
  • Bring people together.

What goals are you working toward? Are you doing a happiness project? Sound off in the comments below!

March 2019: Happiness Project Recap

Happy April, friends, and welcome to spring! I’m excited to begin a new month and a fresh start, as March ended on a heavy note for my family and me. Keeping up with the blog was more of a challenge in March, but I’m looking forward to bringing you some fun new content and sharing some happier adventures with all of you.

Speaking of happiness, I haven’t forgotten about my happiness project! As I mentioned in my earlier posts, January’s focus was on boosting physical wellness (which I successfully did!), while February’s theme was creating outer order through decluttering my home and life (which I also did!). I had high hopes for the month of March, which was focused on practicing mindfulness, and planned to incorporate the following daily goals:

  • Write down the happiest moment of my day.
  • Meditate and use positive affirmations.
  • Turn complaints into happiness.
  • Create my list of personal commandments (and follow them).
  • Practice 4-7-8 breathing techniques.

March 2019: Happiness Project Update | Wellness & Wanderlust

I used my resolution chart as always, but this time around, I had trouble keeping up. Although I included a lot of tried-and-true practices in my happiness project last month, I quickly learned that you can’t put mindfulness on your to-do list. As someone who is very task-oriented, I found it much harder to make time for meditation and incorporate breathing techniques into my every day.

In February, it was easy to squeeze in 10 minutes to de-clutter if I hadn’t done it already, but getting into the right mindset to meditate (or even remember to meditate!) was a lot more challenging for me. I did practice 4-7-8 breathing techniques when possible, and while I still struggle with this particular tenet of happiness, I find myself focusing on my breathing a whole lot more. I also did a fairly good job of turning complaints into happiness when it came to the little things, but once I began focusing on the larger themes of unhappiness in my life, it became a lot harder to look at the positive.

March 2019: Happiness Project Update | Wellness & Wanderlust

My favorite aspect of Month 3 was writing down the happiest moment of my day. Admittedly, I wasn’t always perfect about physically writing it down (maybe closer to 50/50), but I often found myself reflecting on even the hardest days and thinking about the moments that didn’t suck. Often on the bad days, there were still some pretty great things that happened, and when I was able to remember those specific examples, I ended the day on a much happier note.

The month of March taught me something important: I need to slow down. When I make the time to meditate, even for only a few minutes a day, I feel better. When I take deep breaths, my brain does a much better job of focusing. Writing down my happiest moment allows me to take control of how I end my day, and it gives me the ability to decide for myself – was it a good day, or was it a bad day? I will make an effort to focus on these practices in April at my own pace, incorporating them over time rather than merely squeezing them into my schedule.

For the month of April, my theme is to Slow Down and Lighten Up. This month was somewhat inspired by The Book of Hygge, which focuses on contentment and comfort, but also incorporates a lot of other practices I really need to follow:

  • Enjoy a hot cup of tea in the morning.
  • Light candles or diffuse essential oils after work.
  • Underreact to a problem.
  • Take time to be silly.
  • Laugh out loud.

What goals are you working toward? Are you doing a happiness project? Sound off in the comments below!

February 2019: Happiness Project Recap

As I mentioned in last night’s post, it feels like February was over just as quickly as it began! It has been a whirlwind of a month, but I’m proud to share that my happiness project is still going strong.

In January, I focused on boosting physical wellnessand a lot of those habits carried over into February. Although no longer on Whole30, I’ve been eating more mindfully and  continuing to see a difference in how I feel (along with how my clothes fit!). The concept of tackling the nagging tasks was a huge part of my February as well. By facing those annoying little to-dos head on, just a few at a time, I have alleviated a lot of anxiety and now feel way more capable of #adulting.

My theme for the month of February was creating outer order by decluttering both my home and (on a much grander scale) my life. To do that, I incorporated the following daily goals:

  • Follow the one-minute rule. (If it can be done in less than one minute, do it right away.)
  • Spend 10 minutes tidying up before bed.
  • Beware of freebies.
  • Spend time each day de-cluttering problem areas of the house.
  • Tackle the nagging tasks.

Of course, I brought back my handy resolution chart and broke out the stickers.

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How did I do this month? Well, my friends, I think I did great! 🙂 Following the one-minute rule made me much more productive and allowed me not to let the little things fall to the wayside. In addition, spending just 10 minutes to tidy up before bed took a huge strain off of me in the mornings. Nearly every night, I set a timer for 10 minutes, and used that time to wash any pots and pans in the sink, put things away, and tidy up anything I’d left out in the kitchen or living room. My apartment is still not where I want it to be, but at any given time, it is significantly tidier than it was a month ago.

A strong focus of mine was on de-cluttering the problem areas of my apartment. At the end of 2018, I dreaded returning from the holidays because of all of the clutter. Over the years, I’ve accumulated so much junk, bought clothes in nearly every size through weight fluctuations, inherited unwanted items from former roommates, and more. I had two closets completely filled to the brim, drawers that wouldn’t close, and no rhyme or reason to where my stuff was placed.

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I hadn’t realized until then that my clutter was truly a source of unhappiness for me, so I knew that would have to be a major focus for 2019. Although I still have a ways to go, I’m pleased to share that I have organized both closets, my guest bathroom, my dresser, nightstands, and a few other areas of the apartment. I now have logical places for things to go, and am confident that soon I will even have a few empty drawers and shelves. Hallelujah! 🙂 In my line of work, I come across a lot of freebies at events, so avoiding freebies was another way to keep the clutter levels down.

For the month of March, my theme is Practicing Mindfulness by implementing the following goals:

  • Write down the happiest moment of my day.
  • Meditate and use positive affirmations.
  • Turn complaints into happiness.
  • Create my list of personal commandments (and follow them).
  • Practice 4-7-8 breathing techniques.

What goals are you working toward? Are you doing a happiness project? Sound off in the comments below!

Your Health in Action: 5 Wellness Books Worth Reading

As a writer, I constantly try to prioritize reading as a part of my daily life. (Some years, I’m more successful than others!) From fiction and poetry to nonfiction and memoirs, I try to vary my genres as much as possible to broaden my perspective and inspire my own creativity. Of course, because wellness is a huge focus for me and my blog, I often gravitate toward personal development books and podcasts.

For tonight’s edition of Your Health in ActionI wanted to share a few favorite wellness and personal development books worth exploring! As always, please feel free to share your suggestions in the comments below. I’m constantly looking for my next great read. 🙂

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small compensation.

Your Health in Action: 5 Wellness Books Worth Reading | WellnessAndWanderlust.net

1. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Okay, let’s be real: unless this is the first time you’ve stumbled upon my blog, you had to suspect this book was going to be on the list! For those who are unfamiliar with The Happiness Project, author Gretchen Rubin incorporates scientific research on happiness to undergo a year-long experiment to live a happier life. Each month takes on a different theme, such as boosting energy, focusing on her marriage, learning something new, etc. The book provides practical, easy-to-implement tips for readers, as Gretchen shares what worked for her. Inspired by her work, I ended up creating my own happiness project for 2019. (You can read about my progress for the month of January here.) Be sure to check out Gretchen’s podcast as well!

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2. Food Freedom Forever by Melissa Hartwig
As a fan of The Whole30, I was especially excited when co-creator Melissa Hartwig released Food Freedom Forever. This book focuses on what to do after you’ve tackled the intense elimination diet. How do you let go of your bad habits and baggage around food? Melissa provides a lot of well-researched tips for habit change and creating a healthier relationship with food and body-image. My copy has about a million Post-It notes inside, and is back at the top of my list for required reading in 2019.

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3. The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein
If you believe in the law of attraction, The Universe Has Your Back is for you. Gabby Bernstein’s book on transforming fear to faith is worth exploring if you’re experiencing any major obstacles in your life right now. The book also provides several meditative practices to help you listen to your intuition and learn to trust yourself, while quieting those negative voices.

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4. The Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda by Sahara Rose
Ayurveda is an ancient system of Eastern medicine and the sister science to yoga. Thanks to Sahara Rose’s book The Idiot’s Guide to Ayurvedanon-practitioners like me can learn all about Ayurveda and how we can incorporate it into our daily lives. You’ll be able to identify your mind-body type (or “dosha”) and learn the best foods, routines, and other practices to achieve mind-body balance.

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5. Rising Strong by Brené Brown
Brené Brown is a renowned social worker known for her research on shame and vulnerability (check out her TED Talk!), and as someone who struggles with opening up about her feelings, I was excited to finally pick up one of her books. Rising Strong focuses on resiliency, coming back from a perceived failure, and changing the narratives we tell ourselves. If you’re struggling to reset after a fall, I highly recommend this book!

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What personal development books do you recommend for 2019? Share your favorites in the comments below!

January 2019: Happiness Project Recap

That’s it, folks — the first month of 2019 has officially reached its end. Can you believe it? My January has certainly been a rollercoaster, but thanks to my happiness project, I will leave this month feeling better than when I started it.

At the end of 2018, I was completely exhausted. Between autoimmune issues, a busier than usual workload, and some difficult situations outside of my control, I needed a break — and an attitude adjustment. As part of my happiness project, my theme for the month of January was to boost physical wellnessTo do that, I incorporated the following five daily goals:

  • Embark on a Whole30 to create more intentionality in my food choices and identify any new food sensitivities.
  • Go to sleep earlier.
  • Take a 10-minute walk each day.
  • Act more energetic.
  • Tackle the “nagging tasks” on my list.

Inspired by The Happiness Project author Gretchen Rubin, I created a resolution chart, giving myself a gold star each day for the goals I accomplished.

Happiness Project Resolution Chart

So how did I do? Well, as can be expected, I fared better in some categories than others. Through my Whole30, I consistently ate nourishing, real foods, while detoxing myself from some of the junk food that my body doesn’t agree with. I managed to lose 10 pounds, clear up my skin, stop getting daily headaches, and decrease overall inflammation.

Acting more energetic allowed me to fake it till I made it on the days when I just didn’t think I had it in me, and I really started to feel more energetic after doing that. The other thing that massively boosted my energy levels was tackling the nagging tasks. 

Happiness Project Resolution Chart

By “nagging tasks,” I’m referring to those pesky but necessary to-do’s in the back of your mind that you don’t particularly want to do but will benefit you in the long run. I always feel like I have a lot of little things that I need to do but don’t have time for, so at the beginning of the year, I made a list of all of those items in an Evernote. Then, each week, I picked a few of those items that absolutely needed to get done, and wrote them down on my dry-erase board on the fridge. Tackling those nagging tasks made a huge difference in my anxiety levels and overall happiness, and I’m excited to bring this goal back into the month of February.

Of course, nobody is perfect, and I did struggle to get those daily walks in (it’s been so chilly out!) and get to bed at a decent hour. These are both areas I need to prioritize in the days to come.

Tomorrow begins the month of February, and this month’s theme is Creating Outer OrderI’m excited to create a life that sparks joy (thanks, Marie Kondo!) and will be implementing the following goals:

  • Follow the one-minute rule. (If it can be done in less than one minute, do it right away.)
  • Spend 10 minutes tidying up before bed.
  • Beware of freebies.
  • Spend time each day de-cluttering problem areas of the house.
  • Tackle the nagging tasks. (It was so effective that I decided to bring it back!)

What goals are you working toward? Are you doing a happiness project? Sound off in the comments below!

 

Link Love January: Rom Com Dialogue & Millennial Burnout

Now that we’re halfway through January, how are everyone’s New Year’s Resolutions holding up? Normally by now, I’d be back to my usual deviant habits, but so far my 2019 Happiness Project is going strong! My focus for the month has been to boost my physical health, and I’ve been doing that in a few different ways: embarking on a round of Whole30 (it’s getting easier!), tackling those nagging tasks to clear up “brain clutter” (we’ll talk about that in a future post), and even by simply acting more energetic when I may not feel that way. I’ve been more successful in some areas than others, but I’m happy to share that I am starting to feel a lot healthier than I have in a long time.

Of course, in the midst of all of these changes, I’ve been doing a lot of reading! Check out my latest link love below and be sure to drop your own favorites (along with a resolution you’re working toward!) in the comments section below.

Photo Credit: NatureCoaster.com

My 2019 Happiness Project

Can you believe 2019 is only a few hours away? This year really flew by, but I’m excited to let go of 2018 and bring on the adventures of the new year.
2018 came with its share of challenges, and as the year comes to a close, I’ll admit that I’m ready for an attitude adjustment. Throughout the year, my health and happiness took a backseat to graduate school, a busier-than-ever workload, and other areas of overwhelm. Because of that, I decided to tackle things head-on by embarking on a 2019 Happiness Project, inspired by one of my favorite books by Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project. In her book, Gretchen incorporates various happiness principles and research into her life over the course of a year, experimenting with a different happiness theme each month.
For 2019, I’ve created my own happiness project, focusing on improving various areas of my health and overall wellness in the new year. Each month, I’ll share what I’m working on and how things went down in the previous month!
My 2019 Happiness Project | Wellness & Wanderlust
Below are my areas of focus for 2019. Some of these are inspired by Gretchen’s book, while others come from different books, podcasts, and goals I’d like to pursue.
  • January: Boost Physical Wellness (More on that in a minute!)
  • February: Create Outer Order / Organize
  • March: Practice Mindfulness
  • April: Slow Down & Lighten Up
  • May: Make Time For Friends
  • June: Learn Constantly
  • July: Incorporate Ayurvedic Practices
  • August: Digital Detox
  • September: Work Smarter
  • October: Contemplate the Heavens / Spirituality
  • November: Explore
  • December: Give Back

The reason I’m focusing on boosting physical wellness in January is because I am truly ready for a detox. Between autoimmune issues and a hectic schedule, I need an increase in energy and overall health before I can take on any new challenges. To do so, I’ll be incorporating the following practices into the month of January:

  • Embark on a Whole30 to create more intentionality in my food choices and identify any new food sensitivities.
  • Go to sleep earlier.
  • Take a 10-minute walk each day.
  • Act more energetic.
  • Tackle the “nagging tasks” on my list.

If you’re looking to make a change, I highly encourage you to pursue your own happiness project! Check out Gretchen’s site here for some helpful resources, including a “resolution chart” that can be useful for tracking your progress along the way. I can’t wait to share more with you all through the year! 🙂

Are you tackling a happiness project or any resolutions this year? Share yours in the comments below!

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small compensation.

Link Love August: From Van Gogh to Travel Essentials

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Photo Credit: Brooklyn Paper

Rise and shine! This weekend, I’m bringing Link Love back to Wellness & Wanderlust. For those of you who are fairly new to the blog, I used to regularly post a roundup of my favorite articles, videos, and other external links that I thought my readers might enjoy. As grad school began, the blog posts began to disappear, and so did weekly features like Link Love. However, now that I’m back to blogging, I’ve decided to bring back Link Love as well — this time on a monthly basis.

What are some great articles you’ve been reading lately? Share your favorites in the comments below!

Got any link love you’d like to share? Sound off in the comments below!

What’s Your Wellness Personality?

What's Your Wellness Personality?Now that I’ve officially graduated, I’ve been investing a lot more time into myself and my overall health and wellness. From cutting processed “emergency” foods out of my diet to actually using my gym membership, I am finally at a point where my health is no longer on the back burner. As much as I loved grad school, those last few semesters wore me down, and I’m so happy to get my life back!

This time has also allowed for some self reflection. As I mentioned a few posts back, I’ve been taking Gretchen Rubin’s online course on The Four Tendencies, a framework for how people deal with inner and outer expectations. (Those of you who are familiar with the tendencies and know me well won’t be surprised to hear that I’m an Obliger who tips to Upholder!) I think these assessments and frameworks are a great way for us to learn more about ourselves, what motivates us, and how we can better serve ourselves.

Another personality quiz that has really stood out to me comes from Robyn Conley Downs, whose podcast The Feel Good Effect is one of my absolute favorites. Robyn is also the blogger behind Real Food Whole Lifewhich focuses on how to “ditch should and dive into good.” As a researcher, Robyn has created a Wellness Personality Quiz, which breaks down our patterns in how we create healthy lives. According to Robyn, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to wellness, and it’s important to know ourselves when working to shift our lifestyles and mindsets.

The quiz breaks us down into three types: the Dynamo, the Seeker, and the Cultivator. The Dynamo is a Type A perfectionist who is also self-critical and can stand in his or her own way. The Seeker tends to look outside himself or herself and compare to others, while the Cultivator is starting from ground zero and doesn’t know where to begin on the wellness journey. Taking the quiz taught me that I’m a Dynamo, and provided some helpful podcast episodes, blog entries, and recipes tailored to my type. It was also a gentle reminder that no two journeys are the same, and that it’s important for me to keep that in mind when writing future wellness blogs.

Interested? I highly suggest taking the free quiz and taking advantage of the resources offered. Knowing yourself better will help you achieve your goals in the way that works best for you. 🙂

What’s your wellness personality? Have you used similar frameworks? Share in the comments below! 

5 Months Later: Life Updates

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Well, it’s official: I’m a college graduate (again)! Earlier this month, my graduate school career came to an end as I received my MBA. I’ve learned a lot over the last two years, formed some great friendships, and read more case studies than I’ll ever know what to do with. The past two years have been both rewarding and challenging, and there were times I didn’t think I would get through the program. I’m proud to have proven myself wrong!

People keep asking me what’s next in terms of education and career moves, but honestly, I’m just happy to have some free time to lay out by the pool or hang out with friends without worrying about any upcoming assignments or exams. In January, I talked about my happiness project, but this and my blogging itself fell by the wayside as I combined a full-time semester with my full-time job. Expect to see more content here at Wellness and Wanderlust as I readjust to real life.

Since my last blog post, here are a few snippets of what I’ve been up to:

  • I’m taking Gretchen Rubin’s online Four Tendencies Course, learning more about my Obliger tendency and how I respond to outer expectations. I’m a huge fan of Gretchen’s books and podcast, so I’m really enjoying the course!
  • I started a Whole30 to reestablish some healthier habits in my life post-graduation. I’m on Day 7 and definitely still feeling the hangover effects of cutting out sugar and gluten. Can someone please bring me chocolate?
  • My apartment is finally getting organized. It’s amazing how much everything piled up over the past two years. I’m excited to live like a more functional adult again! If you have any good books or resources for organizing tips, please send them my way.
  • I booked the tickets for my post-graduation vacation and have begun working on the itinerary. Now I just need to dust off my passport!

What has everyone been up to this year?