Things I’m Loving Lately: Hummustir

Hey there, readers! For all of my fellow Floridians, I hope you are getting yourselves prepared for Hurricane Irma over the next few days. It is certainly a scary time to live in the Sunshine State, and I can honestly say that I’m so ready for hurricane season to be over.

In honor of my blog’s relaunch as Wellness & Wanderlust, I’m excited to announce my newest feature: Things I’m Loving Lately. I may not be as influential as Oprah and her “favorite things,” but I can’t wait to share some of my own favorite things with all of you. I’m constantly trying out new products in the wellness sphere, so when I come across something great, I’ll be sure to share it with you right here. 🙂

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We’re kicking things off with something incredibly tasty and timely. Meet Hummustir, a new hummus brand with a truly fresh taste and all natural ingredients. An amateur party-planner and lover of Mediterranean food, I firmly believe that no appetizer spread is complete without a good hummus. What sets Hummustir apart — and makes it a must-have for your hurricane supply shopping list — is that it remains shelf-safe in your pantry for up to a year without refrigeration. It’s also completely preservative-free (really!).

How it works: Hummustir is split into three packages, all in one tub, which include pureed chickpeas, tahini, and spices. Empty the contents of each package into the tub and stir them up with the spoon provided (hence the name Hummustir!) for some straight up deliciousness.

Things I'm Loving Lately: HummustirI’ve tried the Mediterranean Style and Village Style flavors, which I absolutely loved. We served Hummustir at a family gathering, and I’ve brought a few containers to class. It was a hit among family members and grad students alike!

Hummustir is available in your local Walmart and select retailers (find your closest store here), but you can also order online through Amazon and choose from a variety of flavors. Each flavor is vegan, preservative-free, and non-GMO.

I constantly struggle to find healthy food that I can serve when I entertain, but Hummustir does not disappoint. It is the perfect addition to any party or get-together! Give it a try and check out some of their recipes online for inspiration in the kitchen. Can’t wait to hear about what you end up making!

Have you tried Hummustir? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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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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Your Health in Action: 5 Clean Cooking Tips for Newbies

For those of you who follow my social media or have been reading the blog for a while, you’ve probably definitely seen me post about my experiences with Whole30 and paleo living. If you’re not familiar with Whole30, it is a nutritional program that lasts for 30 days and is designed to help people discover food sensitivities and kick their junk food addictions. When I first started dabbling in this way of eating in 2014, I quickly realized that I needed to do a lot of my own cooking — something that I’d had virtually no experience with before that time.

For a lot of people, including myself, transitioning to a cleaner way of eating can be intimidating because of the level of cooking and meal preparation that is often involved. Even now, after several rounds of Whole30, I still do not claim to be a particularly talented chef. However, over the years, I’ve significantly improved my culinary skills and picked up a lot of tricks for simplifying the clean cooking experience.

If you’re looking to make a few lifestyle changes and don’t know where to start, check out my tips below!

5 Clean Cooking Tips for Newbies

  1. Prep your meals ahead of time.
    I’ll let you in on a well-known secret: I’m a big fan of #MealPrepSundays. I love to set aside a few hours before the week begins to chop up some veggies, whip up a few dinners for class nights (usually this simple veggie curry), and prep seasonings for other recipes I’ll try throughout the week. I don’t pre-cook all of my meals, but by getting some of the prep work done on Sunday, I can save some time in the kitchen after work. Meal prep will make the cooking process a lot less overwhelming, because a lot of the work will have already been done! I use this weekly organizer to plan my meals.
  2. Sometimes it’s just easier to buy your produce pre-chopped…
    … and that’s totally ok! If it saves time and doesn’t seriously compromise the health benefits of the food you’re eating, why not simplify? I chop most of my veggies on the weekend, but I buy my cauliflower and broccoli already chopped into florets, and often buy my carrots pre-chopped as well. If it makes your life easier and you don’t mind the added cost, go for it!
  3. The Internet is your best friend.
    When following a more complicated recipe or trying out a new cooking technique, look no further than YouTube and Google. Thanks to the Internet, I now know how to poach chicken — and thankfully, it does not mean that I have to hunt my own poultry!
  4. Find your easy go-to’s.
    When you’re in a pinch, having a few simple items in the house that are ready-made can make dinnertime that much easier. For example, I eat a lot of cauliflower rice, so I end up buying it frozen through Bird’s Eye and Trader Joe’s. Find those shortcuts that work best for you, and stock up!
  5. Learn the easy swaps.
    Making a stir fry? Skip the soy sauce and add coconut aminos. Not sure if you have a dairy intolerance? Try cooking with ghee or coconut oil instead of butter. Skipping gluten? Use almond flour or shredded coconut instead of breadcrumbs to coat your chicken. These are just a few examples of some of the ingredient swaps you can make. For more ideas, check out my list of paleo kitchen essentials here!

Hope these tips help you along your own health and cooking journeys! Have any tips to share? Sound off in the comments below!

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: Wellness & Wanderlust

Introducing: Wellness & WanderlustHey there, friends!

Now that my summer semester has come to a close, I’m excited to announce some changes here on the blog. As of today, So It Must Be True has officially taken on a new identity. Meet Wellness & Wanderlust, your one-stop shop for all things health and travel! 🙂

Why the change? Over time, I noticed that my blog had taken a natural shift away from college advice and pop culture pieces, and had begun to focus more on my health journey and travels. I had always loved to travel and create itineraries, but in my first few years out of college, I never once left the state of Florida. After walking away from an all-consuming relationship, I began to reevaluate my priorities and started to do more of what makes me happy. I made time for at least one out-of-state trip per year, and discovered hidden gems in my own city.

Introducing: Wellness & WanderlustI know what it means to be busy, for lack of a better word. I’m in my second year of my MBA program, which I juggle with a full-time job and a social life. Because of this, I know about the struggles of limited vacation time and “not enough hours in the day.” It’s hard to live that perfectly balanced life — you know, the one where you somehow cram meditation, exercise, a gratitude journal, homework, and an acai bowl into your morning before 7 a.m., and visit a new exotic location every month (all while running your own business).  With limited time, I’ve learned to make the most of every weekend that I can to explore a new corner of my world. On my health and wellness journey, I’ve also learned a lot of timesaving shortcuts, and I’m so excited to share all of that and more with you!

Look out in the next few weeks for more changes to the blog. In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section. I look forward to sharing more soon! 🙂

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Veggie Curry

Over the past few months, my Sundays have become synonymous with a few things: brunch with old friends, relaxation, and meal prep. Friends in the paleo world have always preached the importance of preparing meals ahead of time, but I didn’t realize how much time I would save throughout the week by chopping veggies, boiling eggs, and having full meals ready to pop in the microwave after work or before classes. Thank goodness I finally listened to them! 🙂

One of my staple meals is Veggie Curry. Most curry recipes I found online incorporated rice or quinoa and garbanzo beans, but I wanted something that would work for me if I was on Whole30 or simply avoiding grains and legumes.

Whole30 Veggie Curry Recipe | So It Must Be True

This recipe is incredibly nutrient dense and flavorful. It’s also easy to make! I prep this meal almost weekly and heat it up before class. This recipe makes about 3 meals.

Whole30 Veggie Curry Recipe | So It Must Be True

Ingredients:

  • 3 bell peppers, chopped (any color – I like to use red, yellow and green)
  • 1 medium sweet potato, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded or chopped
  • 4 cups cauliflower rice (I use frozen Birds Eye Steam Fresh or Green Giant, but you can also make your own by grinding cauliflower in your food processor)
  • 1 cup chicken broth (use vegetable broth to make the recipe vegetarian/vegan)
  • 3 tbsp petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • Optional: Salt and garlic to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil over low heat.
  2. Add in chopped peppers, carrots, and sweet potato, along with spices. Let cook on low heat for five minutes.
  3. Stir in cauliflower rice, tomatoes, and chicken broth.
  4. Cover and continue to cook on low for 15 minutes.
  5. Uncover, stir, and heat up to medium low. Cook for another 15-20 minutes or until the cauliflower rice has soaked up the rest of the broth.
  6. Serve or store in meal prep containers. Bon appetit!

Your Health in Action: 5 Tips for Cleaning Up Your Sleep Hygiene

5 Tips for Better SleepWhen it comes to sleep, it often feels like we just don’t get enough of it. When I first started wearing a FitBit, I was astonished to learn how restless I can be at night and how little sleep I tend to get on average. Lack of sleep affects every aspect of my world, from my productivity at work to my concentration in grad school (which is difficult enough after a traditional 8-hour day!), and even plays a major role in weight loss and food choices. One of my resolutions for 2017 has been to clean up my sleep hygiene, and while this is an ongoing process, I’m excited to see how much better I feel as I incorporate more of these healthy habits into my routine!

Check out these five tips for better sleep hygiene, and share your own in the comments section below!

1. Incorporate essential oils into your bedtime routine.
I fell in love with essential oils last year, when I attended an aromatherapy workshop at East End Market, and not long after that, I began using them at home. (After all, when you’re cooking alotof cauliflower, diffusing peppermint oil in your kitchen can be the perfect way to mask the smell.) I used the oils to help with headaches, immune health, and cravings. What I didn’t realize was that oils like lavender can actually help with relaxation, so I have now begun diffusing lavender in my bedroom about a half hour before I go to bed. The scent does provide a sense of calm, but it also makes my room smell amazing!

2. Keep work out of your bedroom.
Save work and school assignments for another area of your home. It can be tempting to work from your laptop in bed, but it will also cause you to associate your bedroom with actual work, which can keep your mind racing after your head hits the pillow.  Find another place to get your work done, whether it’s in another room or out of the house.

3. Eat clean.
Did you know that certain vitamin and nutrient deficiencies can be linked to shorter sleep duration? Lack of sleep is also correlated to overeating and junk food cravings, so this can become a vicious cycle. Break it by sticking to a more balanced diet and including a lot of variety in the carbs and proteins you consume. Avoid the processed frankenfoods out there and save them for special occasions only – not only can they disturb your sleep patterns, but they can also be bad for your skin, digestion, heart, and waistline. (Also, does anyone else remember that time on Hey Arnoldwhen Helga ate pork rinds before bed and ended up sleepwalking to Arnold’s house? Please don’t eat pork rinds before bed… or ever.)

4. Get some exercise.
Research shows that even 10 minutes of exercise each day can improve your sleep and overall stress levels. Whether you decide to hit the gym hard or simply go for a short walk, incorporating more physical activity into your routine can be a major game changer when it comes to the quality of your sleep.

5. Stay away from electronics.
If you’re anything like me, you’re still glued to your phone when it’s time for bed. Often I’ll lie awake, scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, guided by the nearly blinding glow of my screen in the dark. Common sense alone will tell you this is not good for your sleep quality or for your eyes. Try to shut off electronics about a half hour before you go to sleep if you can, but at the very least, refrain from using your phone in bed – this will help your brain to shut off as well.

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Following these tips will help you to create the perfect sleep environment for you. Another way to improve your overall sleep environment? Making sure you have the right mattress! It’s important to change out your mattress every 7-10 years. If you’re in the market, check out Leesa and learn about their luxury mattresses.

Looking for more tips for excellent sleep hygiene? Check out this awesome infographic from Leesa and read more about their mattresses here.


What are some of your tips for better sleep? Share in the comments section below!

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!