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 in the mornings.
  • 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!

Link Love September: Salvador Dalí, Trader Joe’s, and Environmental Consciousness

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Happy October! To me, there’s always something poetic about the first of the month taking place on a Monday. It feels more than ever like the time to begin anew, and I’m excited to see where the month takes us. September was a great month — I spent time with family, celebrated my birthday, checked a few items off my 28 at 28 bucket list, took a mini vacation, made an on-field appearance at a UCF football game, practiced yoga with baby goats, and much more — so here’s hoping the adventures continue in October.

What have you been reading lately? Check out some of my favorite links from September and share your own favorites in the comments section.

What links are you loving this month? Sound off in the comments below!

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!

Girl, Wash Your Face: Three Lies We Need to Stop Telling Ourselves

Girl, Wash Your Face: Three Lies We Need to Stop Telling Ourselves | Wellness & Wanderlust

An avid bookworm, I was especially excited when someone recommended Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis. This book hit especially close to home for me, as it focused on the lies we tell ourselves that hold us back in life. Like most people, I tend to suffer from imposter syndrome and can often be my own worst enemy, letting my inner mean girl speak the loudestGirl, Wash Your Face is a refreshing read that breaks down those negative thoughts with the goal of helping us move past them.

Three chapters in particular stood out to me, so I thought I would share them with my readers. Each chapter addresses a different lie that we tell ourselves, and how to reframe our thoughts. Depending on your own life experiences, other chapters may impact you more deeply, but I wanted to share these insights from which so many of us can benefit.

  • The Lie: I’ll Start Tomorrow
    I’ll be honest — I’m a sucker for kicking off new goals on a Monday or on the first of the month. There’s something I love about having a clear line of demarcation between the old and the new. However, this also gets me into trouble, sometimes causing me to put off my goals with the excuse that I’ll start tomorrowHowever, as Rachel Hollis explains in this chapter, “Your subconscious knows that you, yourself, cannot be trusted after breaking so many plans and giving up on so many goals.” Many of us are great at keeping promises, unless those promises are to ourselves. We’re accountable and reliable for others, but when it comes to ourselves, we can become complacent and give up easily. However, when we tell ourselves we’ll start tomorrow or we push back our goals, we are really telling ourselves that we can’t be relied on. To combat this, Rachel suggests starting with small, more attainable goals, and building over time. We also need to be honest with ourselves about why we choose to put things off, and take the time to be intentional.
  • The Lie: I Should Be Further Along By Now
    This is a lie I constantly struggle with. In certain areas of my life, I feel like I’m not living up to the mental timeline I’ve created for myself, and it stings. However, when I step outside of myself and take a more objective look, I am reminded of how much I’ve accomplished: I graduated with my Master’s degree while working full-time, I’ve reached new milestones at work, I’ve been blessed with some amazing travel experiences, and so much more. Taking inventory of what you have done and setting goals, rather than time limits, will help guide you in the right direction.
  • The Lie: I Am Defined By My Weight
    Since graduation, I have been working hard to reframe the last 27 years of negative thoughts around body image. It is so easy to tell ourselves (especially as women) that we won’t be happy or won’t have the things we want in life until we reach a certain clothing size or a number on the scale. In truth, it isn’t our weight that makes the difference — it’s the way we treat ourselves and our bodies. What we eat and how we exercise matters, and it’s important to fuel our bodies with the foods that make us feel our best. As Rachel says in this chapter, “The lie I used to believe was that my weight would define me, that it would speak volumes about who I was as a person. Today I believe it’s not your weight that defines you, but the care and consideration you put into your body absolutely does.” You are worthy of love and happiness and success at any weight or dress size, but eating the junk foods that you know will make you sick is an abuse to your body.  Your weight does not define you, but the way you treat yourself does. It can be a struggle, but for the last couple of months, I have focused more on listening to my needs, eating intuitively, and incorporating more movement into my day because it makes me feel betterWhether you’re looking to lose weight, gain weight, or simply feel your best, treating your body with respect and listening to what it needs is always going to benefit you in the long run.

Have any of you read Girl, Wash Your Face? Which chapters stood out to you? What lie are you working to overcome?

 

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2018 Happiness Project

Happy New Year! 🙂 I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and is gearing up for an even better 2018. A lot of people are skeptical when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, but sometimes a new year can be the perfect starting point to begin incorporating new practices into our lives. Last year, I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, in which the author underwent a full year of adopting positive new habits based on happiness research. I loved the book and its practicality so much that I quickly became a fan of Gretchen’s podcast!

Inspired by both the book and the podcast, I decided to take 2018 to create my own happiness project, based on applicable lessons from the book. For the next six months, I will focus on ingraining new healthy practices into my life (and re-ingraining some old ones that have fallen to the wayside!), and will share my results and lessons learned on the blog each month.

Feel free to adopt these practices into your own life from month to month, or create your very own happiness project using the resources from Gretchen’s site. Don’t forget to share your own findings in the comments section!

2018 Happiness Project | Wellness & Wanderlust

  • January 2018: Boost Energy.
    • Practice better sleep hygiene and go to bed earlier.
    • Exercise more often.
    • Go for 15-minute walks before work each morning.
    • Take time to reorganize.
  • February 2018: Focus on Nutrition.
    • Undergo a Whole30.
    • Make time for meal prep every Sunday.
    • Try one new recipe each week.
  • March 2018: Lighten Up & Appreciate the Present.
    • Attempt a “Pollyanna Week” of minimal to no complaining.
    • Keep a one-sentence journal.
    • Practice gratitude each day.
  • April 2018: Reevaluate Finances.
    • Look over my monthly budget and find areas to cut back.
    • Organize coupons and gift cards for more efficient use.
  • May 2018: Make Time for Friends.
    • Prioritize social time with friends.
    • Don’t gossip.
    • Show up.
  • June 2018: Pursue a Passion.
    • Dedicate more time to writing and blogging.
    • Submit an original piece to a new publication.
    • Work on learning a new technology.

What are your resolutions for 2018? Share in the comments section below!

Your Health in Action: 5 Podcasts to Make Your Life Happier and Healthier

Over the past few months, I’ve developed a brand new addiction to podcasts. As someone whose job requires her to spend a lot of time on the road, I hate thinking about how little I can accomplish while driving. (The most useful gift anyone could ever give me would be a personal driver!) As I’ve begun tuning in to health and wellness podcasts, my drive time has become more enjoyable, and ultimately, much more productive. These podcasts have also been great to listen to while getting ready in the morning before work, even if they do cut in to my reality TV catch-up time! 🙂

By listening to these podcasts, I’ve been introduced to a lot of new books, bloggers, and wellness practices. It’s so easy to subscribe through the Podcast app on your iPhone or through iTunes.  I’m so excited to share a few of my favorite shows with you!

5 Podcasts That Will Make Your Life Happier & Healthier

1. Almost 30
Hosted by Krista Williams and Lindsey Simcik, Almost 30 focuses on a variety of topics, from forgiving our 20s selves to taking care of our skin and practicing holistic nutrition. The hosts are funny, but their tips are practical, and I absolutely love the rapport they have with their guests and with each other.

A few favorite episodes: How Every Woman Can Rock Her Career and Be Fearless As She Evolves with Career Contessa; Feng Shui-ng Your Life for Good Vibes With Dana Claudat; and Curve Model + CEO of Model Meals Danika Brysha on Her Battle With Food, and How It Transformed Her Life

5 Podcasts That Will Make You Happier and Healthier

2. Feel Good Effect
This podcast, hosted by Robyn Conley Downs, is a relatively newer show based in Portland. Robyn makes health and wellness accessible for listeners through solo podcasts and interviews with various bloggers.

A few favorite episodes: How To Naturally Balance Your Hunger Hormones with Kelly LeVeque; How to Get Unstuck and Simplify with Ashley Gartland; and How to Create a Wellness Routine You Can Actually Stick To

5 Podcasts That Will Make You Happier and Healthier

3. The Balanced Blonde Podcast // Soul on Fire
I first heard Jordan Younger, the show’s host, on another podcast (listed later in this post!), and found her advice to be relatable and easy to follow. Jordan, a former vegan, has shifted her focus to a more balanced life in the wellness community. Her episodes integrate wellness hacks with spirituality, and I have truly enjoyed learning from the different guests who appear on the show.

A few favorite episodes: Jeanette Ogden – Real Talk with Wellness Goddess and Instagram Sensation @ShutTheKaleUp; Gabby Bernstein – Becoming a Spirit Junkie, Trusting in the Universe, and Awakening Your Spirit; and Marissa Lace – Crystal Healing, Creating Your Own Life, and Loving Yourself First

5 Podcasts That Will Make Your Life Happier and Healthier

4. Happier with Gretchen Rubin
I read Gretchen’s book, The Happiness Project, earlier this year — and have been recommending it to everyone I know! Her advice on finding happiness is down-to-earth and easy to implement in our daily lives, so when I heard about her podcast, I knew I had to give it a listen. She hosts the show with her sister, Elizabeth Craft, and I absolutely love the organized format and listener feedback. She also records weekly one-minute “little” episodes, which are fun to listen to for an instant boost of happiness.

A few favorite episodes: Do You Struggle With Perfectionism?; Shield Yourself from Worry; and Tackle a Power Day

5 Podcasts to Make Your Life Happier & Healthier

5. Stronger
This podcast is hosted by Livestrong and is the very first podcast I ever listened to. Although there aren’t a ton of episodes out yet, the content has been eye-opening and incredibly practical.

A few favorite episodes: 4 Foods You Think are Healthy That May Not Be; 15 Ways to Never Deprive Yourself AND Eat Healthy; and The Best and Worst Things to Say to Someone Who’s Grieving

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Do you listen to any of these? Share your favorite wellness podcasts in the comments section below!

Your Health in Action: 5 Self-Care Practices for Introverts

Whenever I tell people that I’m an introvert, they are often a little taken aback. “But you aren’t awkward in social situations!” they protest. Others think that I’m calling myself an introvert in self-deprecation, and respond with a concerned “Awwww, I don’t think you’re an introvert at all,” as if trying to comfort me.

The thing is, I don’t consider introversion to be a flaw by any means, nor do I equate being an introvert with lacking communication or social skills. Being an introvert simply means that I draw my energy from within, rather than from other people, and that in order to recharge, I need time alone.

I work in business development, where my job is to cultivate relationships, spread brand awareness, and — on some days — talk to literally hundreds of people in the course of a few hours. I absolutely love what I do, and am so happy to have a job that introduces me to so many interesting people. But when the weekend rolls around, I can’t wait to take a little time to myself.

Your Health in Action: 5 Self-Care Practices for Introverts

For all of my fellow introverts living in an extroverted world, it’s important to take care of yourself and your overall health. This week, we’ll delve into five self-care practices that all introverts should implement into their lives!

  1. Prioritize time to yourself at home.
    This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you’re a chronic over-committer like me, it might be easier said than done. Remind yourself that it’s okay to say no sometimes and stay in! When you know you need the time to yourself, take it. Whether you use that time to curl up with a book, listen to your favorite podcast, or plunge into a mindless Netflix binge is completely up to you. If you get through the entire second season of Master of None in one weekend, I promise I won’t judge!
  2. Go out in public by yourself.
    Go for a walk. Visit an art museum. Go to the movies! It can feel socially unacceptable to do these things alone, but incredibly energizing once you finally do. Get used to doing some things by yourself. One of my favorite memories from last year was when I visited Leu Gardens, which I did on my own. I loved spending time among nature and taking in all of the beauty that the botanical gardens had to offer, and doing so by myself added an almost meditative element to the experience.
  3. Find your creative outlet.
    For me, that’s writing — and yes, I am the cliché girl in the coffee shop putting pen to paper. What can I say? It makes me happy! I also love coloring and attempting to play keyboard when I need to unwind.
  4. Turn off electronics.
    This is an area where I truly struggle, but it can make a world of difference. Thanks to smartphones and social media, we are constantly connected to something. I challenge you to disconnect. Switch your phone to do not disturb after a certain time at night, or better yet, turn off your devices and soak in the time to yourself.
  5. Listen to your body and give it what it needs.
    Make sure you are getting enough sleep, and eat the foods that truly nourish you. Maybe your body is craving physical activity to de-stress, or perhaps diffusing essential oils will do the trick. Make your health a priority — without that, how can you do all of the amazing things you do? 🙂

Any of my fellow introverts in the house? Share your favorite self-care practices in the comments section below!

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One Year at a Time: Why Everyone Should Create a Mini Bucket List

If you’ve been reading my blog over the last two years, you’ve probably seen a lot of posts about my birthday bucket lists. For those who haven’t, a little background: in my first few years out of college, I worked hard but put very little time into my own interests and self-care. I never took a single vacation in that time (except to visit family in my hometown), rarely saw my friends, and was constantly telling myself “I wish I did more of [xyz]” without actually doing anything about it. I consider myself to be an unapologetically enthusiastic person by nature, and so I wanted to bring that excitement back into my life again. Thus began my bucket list adventures, starting with my 25 at 25.

One Year at a Time: Why It's Important to Create Mini-Bucket Lists

Creating that first bucket list for my 25th birthday was one of the best things I could have done for myself. My list was simple – just 25 things I hoped to do by the time I hit my 26th birthday – and it encompassed many of the things in my own backyard that I’d always wanted to do. It “forced” me to book a trip to the mountains, treat myself to a spa day, and visit local museums and performing arts shows. I also became a lot more social again, as friends began to join me on these adventures and suggested their own.

Since then, I create a new bucket list each year leading up to my birthday. I can get a little too focused on “serious” goals throughout the year, so I try to steer my list away from things like “clean out my closet” (which is on a completely different list!) or “write the next Great American Novel.” Some of my bucket list items may focus on personal development (i.e. pursuing public speaking opportunities, getting my writing published in a new place, etc.), but the majority of these relate to places I want to visit or activities I want to try.

Creating your own annual bucket list, rather than an exhaustive list of everything you’d like to do in your lifetime, makes everything that much more immediate. Breaking down your list one year at a time is a powerful thing, because it allows you to prioritize your happiness while thinking about what you can do now to attain it. It is my dream to go to the opera at the Palais Garnier in Paris someday, but based on current obligations, that isn’t feasible right now. I can, however, fit in a weekend trip to Savannah or a few hours at the nearby wildlife refuge.

If you’re like I was, and constantly putting off the things you want to do, I highly recommend creating a list that matches your own interests. Do you ever find yourself saying “I’ve always wanted to go there” or “I wonder what that’s all about”? Start with those items, and go on from there. Your list can be as wild, silly, serious, academic, wellness-driven, or creative as you want it to be — after all, it’s your life!

Stay tuned for my own bucket list for 27 in the coming weeks, as well as a recap of 26 as the year wraps up! In the meantime, share your own potential bucket list items in the comments section below!

When “No” is a Complete Sentence

Around my 25th birthday, I embarked on my year of yes. Inspired by Shonda Rhimes (and probably Jim Carrey in Yes Man), I took on new adventures, made travel a priority, and stopped waiting to do the things I always hoped to do someday. For the first time in years, I was finally creating the life I wanted.

If I’ve gained nothing else from the past two years, I do know this: I believe in the power of yes.

However, as I approach my 27th birthday, I’m also becoming a firm believer in the power of no.

The Power of Saying No

A chronic people pleaser, I’ve always hated the idea of saying no. Most of the time, I genuinely want to get involved in new things and spend time with others, but I also have the tendency to overcommit. I’ve said yes to social plans I’m not keen on. I’ve continued relationships past their expiration date simply because of my fear of hurting others. I’ve allowed people to talk down to me and treat me in ways I didn’t deserve in order to avoid confrontation and not upset anyone.

Ultimately, I’ve put myself last.

A lot of people fall into the same camp, hoping to make others happy and disappoint as few people as possible. But by saying yes to activities we honestly don’t enjoy or to negative behaviors from others, we are diminishing the value of our own time and self-worth. By putting energy toward the things that don’t nourish your soul, you are taking energy away from other areas of your life, and are less able to put forth the best version of yourself. It isn’t healthy for the relationships you do value or for your overall wellness.

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Saying “no” can come in many forms, from a simple “I can’t go tonight,” to telling someone that you’re uncomfortable being spoken to in a certain way. It’s okay to take a night to yourself (fellow introverts, I’m looking at you!). It’s okay to block dramatic people from your newsfeed, ignore passive-aggressive comments from frenemies, and unmatch with rude people on dating apps. The world is yours to enjoy just as much as anyone else, and saying no doesn’t make you any less of a kind person.

In recent months, I’ve gotten a lot better at saying no, walking away from negative situations, and not backtracking to explain every last decision I make. I’m not sure where this newfound ability came from, but a psychic I visited in Cassadaga a few months back did tell me that I would find my voice around my birthday. Whether or not my new knack for “no” came from the psychic’s predictions, it has helped me lead a happier and even more fulfilling life, allowing me to become a better friend who has committed to her own self-care.

In short, let go of the optional things in life that make you unhappy. Be open to new people and experiences, but don’t be afraid to say no when you need to. Life is short — shouldn’t we get to choose how we spend it? 🙂

Introducing: No Stress November

funny-no-shave-november-no-job-decemberHey readers! Can you believe it’s practically November? In the past month, we’ve experienced a major hurricane, countless Halloween parties, and the devastating aftermath of the Brangelina split — and yet somehow, it feels like October went by in a flash.

November tends to be one of my busiest months of the year at work and in school, with my calendar filling up with events and deadlines well before the month even begins. This year, to stay sane at an admittedly crazy time, I’m implementing No Stress November, a 30-day wellness challenge designed to decompress for a few minutes each day. I invite you to join me!

Below is my list of 30 items to complete throughout the 30 days of November. The rule is to do at least one of these things per day (with repeats allowed!), and you are welcome to customize the list to meet your own needs. Planning to tag along? Use the hashtag #NoStressNovember on social media and share what you’re up to! 🙂

Below is my list for the No Stress November challenge. Feel free to use all of these or switch them up based on your personal preferences. I’ll check in throughout the month with my own progress and reflections. Enjoy!

  1. Go for a 30-minute walk outside.
  2. Cook a meal you’ve never made before.
  3. Color in an adult coloring book.
  4. Donate your time to community service.
  5. Get your hair professionally done.
  6. Spend 30 minutes meditating.
  7. Take a full day away from social media.
  8. Lay out by the pool.
  9. Buy yourself fresh flowers.
  10. Test out a new makeup tutorial.
  11. Practice 30 minutes of yoga.
  12. Visit a place you have never been before.
  13. Go out for brunch.
  14. Perform a random act of kindness.
  15. Clean out your purse/briefcase.
  16. Lift weights.
  17. Write a love letter (or kind note) to yourself.
  18. Watch a documentary or TED Talk.
  19. Take extra time to pamper yourself.
  20. Write down 50 things you are thankful for.
  21. Connect with an old friend.
  22. De-clutter an area of your home.
  23. Make a list of places to visit in the next five years.
  24. Dedicate 30 minutes to writing.
  25. Create a fun playlist.
  26. Revamp your monthly budget.
  27. Build something with LEGOs.
  28. Watch stand-up comedy.
  29. Use essential oils.
  30. Spend the day with family.

Participating with me? Let me know in the comments section below, and share your progress on social media with the hashtag #NoStressNovember!