No demands for resolutions that will burden you with guilt. No promises that five easy steps will change your life around this year. What we have here is something far more modest, and so much better: simple things you can incorporate into your daily routine that may make your life just a little better. They are bits of wisdom collected by our Washington Post colleagues over the past year, some life tips ready for you to pick and use.
Work on lower leg stability and strength while brushing your teeth. Stand on one leg, swivel around a little at the torso, bend at the knees, raise your heel, etc. Switch legs halfway through.
Take walking phone calls.
— Mary Hui
Do 10 squats every time you go to the restroom. A friend of mine does that. Her legs look amazing.
Try doing a daily gratitude Snapchat/Instagram story (instead of a journal) for a month. I did, and my friends often replied with whatever they were grateful for that day. I noticed improvements in my confidence, mood and communication skills. I also liked the feeling of the video vanishing, starting all over again and not repeating, because I know my friends are watching!
— Nicole Ellis
I have a very simple rule. I'm not allowed to watch any sports on TV unless I'm on my stationary bike or otherwise working out. Tired of biking? Off goes the TV. No couch potato tolerance.
— David Filipov
Go to the gym after work.
I'm not a morning person. So, I've given up on efforts to propel my half-awake self to the gym before dawn. It's much easier and more efficient to go after work. Toss a T-shirt, a pair of workout pants and athletic shoes and socks into a bag — less time-consuming and stressful than packing everything needed to go on to the office. Now I'm forced to get to work earlier — I get more done with fewer distractions — so I can get out earlier. I'm using my gym membership more, and though I haven't lost as much weight as I would like, I'm more fit.
— Elizabeth Chang
Take a yoga class. I've been taking one twice a week for about a year, and I still can't do all the poses — crow and warrior 3 will always elude me, I'm afraid — but I've stuck with it. For that one hour of class, I can't think about anything else (even if I want to), or I'll lose my balance. In this super-achieving part of the country, it's a good reminder that you don't have to do everything perfectly.
Compliment someone. When I'm feeling particularly awful about the world, I make a point of saying something nice to a friend on Facebook, a colleague at work or even a stranger. It puts me in a better frame of mind and hopefully makes their day a little better, too. — Lisa Lednicer
Try a different "challenge" every month instead of one year-long resolution. I did this for an entire year, abstaining from drinking alcohol for one month, talking to a stranger every day for another month, tackling my finances.
Use apps to help meditate. I started meditating daily using a free app called InSight Timer. It helps with self-guided meditations, or choose from a wide variety of guided meditations. Recently I bought a HeartMath monitor for meditating. You plug a small device into your phone, put a clip on your earlobe (to monitor your heart rate) and breathe deeply with the app. It helps keep track of your heart rate and helps "train" your breathing. It's supposed to reduce stress.
— Rachel Orr
Become a minimalist. There's something really calming about not having a whole lot of clutter around my work space and home, so I'm always looking for ways to remove things that no longer serve me. — Macy Freeman
We're told to launch the day with brisk physical emphasis. Get to the gym, go for a run, take a walk. It's equally nice to treat your mind to wonderful writing, fiction, inspired prose, poetry, bracing nonfiction, not the phone. Please not the phone. Gives you a quiet, inspiring, intellectual beginning of the day, too.
Make water the last beverage you drink before sleep and the first of the morning. I have no idea why this feels right, but it does.
Easy way to lose (consumer) weight: Throw out or donate unused/underused possessions every week. Feel instantly lighter.
— Karen Heller
When feeling overwhelmed by social media and the relentless rush of news, I find it restorative to read books that are set in a time period Before All That. Revisiting the Jane Austen novels or dipping into the Sherlock Holmes stories is a good reminder that it's possible — even delightful — to talk face-to-face with a friend before a roaring fire, to write a longhand letter and to read the print edition of the newspaper. (If it weren't for classic books, yoga and tennis, I'm sure I would have lost it by now.)
— Margaret Sullivan
The constantly breaking news in the Age of Trump means all I do is read nonfiction — news and magazines — on my phone. I haven't read a novel in a year. It's terrible. If I try to read one at night, I fall asleep. So I am putting a special, comfortable chair in my home office, just for reading novels. A special chair, for quiet time, and a lamp overhead. Ahhhh.
— Lisa Rein
Go to bed later. After years of going to bed early and waking in the middle of the night, unable to get back to sleep for hours, I started going to bed an hour or so later. I am now so tired when I go to bed that I get an unbroken seven to eight hours of sleep. Unheard of in my world. A small, counterintuitive change (that goes against the conventional advice given to bad sleepers!) has had a major effect on my life.
— Jenny Palmer
Meditate or pray in the restroom at work. For a lot of us, the restroom is the only place in our workdays where we can have a little peace from everyone's demands. I like to take a minute — even 30 seconds — to just breathe or to repeat a mantra or an intention for my day. Rather than try to schedule meditation into a jampacked calendar, I let my body's natural desire for, uh, release, give me a few opportunities a day to recalibrate. — Gillian Brockell
Take a daily mental vacation. In the mornings, I set at least 15 minutes aside to grab a cup of coffee, go to a nice cozy corner in my home (maybe with some plants, flowers, candle). Maybe I'll meditate, maybe I'll read scripture. I'll journal, or just sit and be with myself. Whatever resonates that day. If "to-do list" thoughts intrude, I practice letting them go and shelving them for when I return from my "vacation." It's a nice break from the constant buzz of my phone (which I leave elsewhere) and a way to ground myself before I start each hectic day.
— Elahe Izadi
Buy a nice space heater. Preferably with a remote.
I bought mine during my big move from Texas two years ago, and to date it's probably the best thing I've ever invested in. We turn the heat down at night, and I find it almost ridiculously difficult to get out of bed when it's early and cold and I'm staring down a daunting to-do list for the day. I pop on the heater before I even get out of bed. Waking up to a warm room not only gets me moving faster but also puts me in a much better mood as I do so! That heater keeps this warmth-dependent Southerner from pressing snooze a million times and burrowing into my covers for ever and ever.
— Breanne Deppisch
Find the time to be physical: Bodies were meant to move. Dance every day! (But) every day is not a party: Imbibe mindfully. Laugh every day. Let the music (whatever genre that is) move you! — Angela Barnes
Go see live theater and musicals. Relish in the talent of others, and as an added bonus, you can't check your phone. Listen to classical music. You can still write, read and check your email without being distracted by lyrics. Challenging problem at work or stuck in lousy traffic? Pop over to the classical music station and immediately feel calmer and more focused. (Unless it's got a harpsichord; I can't stand harpsichord.) — Emily Guskin
Develop routines that get you outside first thing in the morning. Sweep the walk, play ball with the dog in the back yard or take a small, meditative walk: Fresh air and sunlight keep circadian rhythms on track, particularly helpful if you typically move only from house to car to parking garage in your daily commute.
Bring your own breakfast/lunch/snacks/coffee to work. This seems obvious, but if you make it a habit, it can save money, keep you healthier and conjure more efficiency and creativity in the kitchen. It can even cut back on food waste. — Dani Seiss
Follow some of the advice on a blog called Barking Up the Wrong Tree (bakadesuyo.com). The post on the best morning ritual has inspired my own routine. The blog, written by Eric Barker, boils the basics of the routine down to this:
• Feel a sense of purpose: Ask, "How does what I do benefit others?" (Selfish people are doomed to lousy mornings.)
• Feel in control: Set goals for the day. (Your brain will thank you.)
• Feel optimistic: Consider the obstacles to your goals, and plan ahead. (I am optimistic that one day I will find a funny joke to put in these parentheses.)
The School of Life channel on YouTube is a good source for philosophical and emotional discussions. One of their videos — How to Be a Man — gave me an interesting framework for conversations with some of my friends about toxic masculinity.
— Kazi Awal
Try the Whole30 program, a month-long reset meant to change your relationship with food: no sugars, grains, legumes, dairy or alcohol for 30 days, with a reintroduction process to help determine which foods trigger any number of reactions. It sounds difficult and restricting, but it felt positive: Eat better, feel better and maybe you can improve the way you think about food.
I cooked every day, used every pot, pan and food storage container I owned, and meal-planned like it was a second job. Sometimes I canceled social plans that revolved around food and drinks. But I felt wonderful, learned how my diet affects my mood and body, and kick-started a regular exercise routine after years of trying and failing. And while the creators insist not to treat it like a "diet," I did lose some weight. I will never truly give up bread, but for me the program is good to return to if I need a reset. I finally completed a 5K, which is not to say that a Whole30 equals a 5K, but it gave me a few tools I needed to achieve what had felt like an impossible goal. — Paulina Firozi
Opt out of traffic, parking, sky-high tolls, Metro delays and dreading your commute: Bike to work.
I've been riding to work since 2005, but last year I switched to an electric bike when my commute went from three miles to nine. My daily ride wakes me up and gets me moving — and with variable levels of electric-assist, I can pedal as much or as little as I feel like, and I can ride in my work clothes without getting sweaty. My wife and I live in Old Town and we love running errands by bike; not having to hunt (and pay) for a parking spot makes it so much easier to stop if we see something interesting or someone we know. Biking is definitely my favorite life hack.
— Andrew Heining
Make the most of small moments through food. I've interviewed embassy workers from around the globe for The Post's upcoming Food Ambassador video series. The common thread is that enjoying the great food and drink of their countries — from Italian coffee to Japanese whiskey — is about being mindful in the moment, even if the moment lasts only a few seconds. Think of the Milanese worker saying "buongiorno" to her regular barista, downing a shot of steaming espresso while standing at a bar with opera playing. Love your food! — Mary Beth Albright