How to challenge your mind, body and soul this year


by Baylor Scott & White Health

Jan 1, 2022

Another year wrapped up and in the books—isn’t it crazy how fast time flies? There’s no time like the present to reflect on the past and begin to make important changes for the future. But we’re not talking about those same old New Year’s resolutions we make year after year, only to end up ditching them about three weeks in.

Instead of setting limitations for what you can or cannot do, make realistic, attainable goals. Challenge yourself in ways that will genuinely have a positive impact on your happiness, health and productivity going forward.

Short on ideas? Here are some suggestions if you’re up for the challenge.

How to challenge your mind

We use our brains every second of every day—when we move a muscle, when we speak, listen, learn, think and even sleep. Our wheels are constantly turning. That’s why it’s important to check in every so often and press the reset button, lest we find ourselves on autopilot.

Prioritize strengthening your mental health

Unplug, step outside and get a good sweat in. The mental health benefits of exercise are undeniably strong. Already reaping the benefits of regular exercise? Good for you. Next, embrace mindfulness.

Put your brain health first for the most content and peaceful version of yourself you can be.

Adopt new hobbies and skills

  • Have you always wanted to become fluent in a foreign language—maybe French, maybe Spanish? C’est la vie! Find an online class or learning app, and make it happen.
  • Read and enjoy a book or two every month, then pass it on to a friend or family member.
  • Grab a workout buddy and head to a new type of class together.
  • Learn and master a new technology or software that’ll come in handy at work.

Then, add it to your résumé, tell a friend or keep the accomplishment to yourself. The options and benefits of adopting a hobby or skill are endless.   

Find time for time management

This one can be tough, especially since it seems like deadlines creep up on us out of nowhere. So, designate a day each week or month to pull out your planner or digital calendar and plan ahead. Refrain from putting more than you can handle on your plate and avoid unnecessary screen time and distractions.

How to challenge your body

Set practical health goals

As vital as exercise is for our health in the short and long-run, it’s also okay to take a day off. Setting practical goals means recognizing that you’re not going to be able to go on that long run every single day. And that’s okay.

Enjoy life in moderation and find a routine or type of workout that works for you, that you truly enjoy and that will fulfill your wellness goals. 

Focus on what you enjoy

Maybe it’s running, maybe it’s yoga, maybe it’s both. When it comes to challenging your body in a realistic way, focus on what brings you joy. The healthiest habits are the ones that you truly enjoy and that make your body, mind and soul feel strong. If you enjoy it, you’ll stick to it.

Explore healthy eating habits

Implementing healthier, nutritious foods into your daily routine should be easy because lucky for us, there is no shortage of inspiration. Whether you turn to Pinterest, other blogs or family members, recipes and motivation are only a click away.

The healthiest habits are the ones that you truly enjoy and that make your body, mind and soul feel strong.

Cook at home more often and embrace the freedom and creativity you’ll find in crafting your own meals. You can even involve the kids — it’s never too early to start teaching them the importance of healthy foods!

Sleep on a schedule

Can’t seem to wake up feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed every morning? Here are a few reasons why you may be experiencing sleep trouble:

  • You’re stressed.
  • Your sleep environment isn’t comfortable enough.
  • You’re drinking too much caffeine and/or eating dinner too late.

Your body and your brain can’t function properly on too little sleep. In the year ahead, make sleep a priority. You’ll be amazed how it transforms the rest of your life. Talk to your doctor for help finding a sleep schedule that works best for you.

How to challenge your soul

With all the attention on physical resolutions, it’s easy to forget about your soul. But your soul is the core of who you are. By challenging yourself to grow and deepen your relationships, you can push yourself to a whole new level of happiness and health.

Maintain strong relationships

New Year’s resolutions often take a somewhat selfish focus—how can I improve me? What can I do better this year? But what about those around you? In pursuance of total wellness, your relationships with others matter. The people around you (and your connection with them) has a significant influence on your overall health and contentment.

Set a goal oriented around building or strengthening relationships this year.

  • Deepen an existing friendship by trying new experiences together.
  • Spend more time with your family.
  • Seek out new relationships by joining an organization or social group.
  • Find a career mentor and meet regularly.
  • Have more meaningful conversations with those you love.
  • Invest in your marriage by going on more dates, traveling together and making time for one another.

Practice kindness and empathy

Studies show that being kind to others can increase our levels of energy and even decrease feelings of pain. At little-to-no cost, the benefits of performing acts of kindness—big or small—like volunteering can not only make a stranger’s day, but also your own.

If you’re looking for ways to practice kindness, try joining a volunteer organization. Or make it a goal to find one kind thing you can do for someone else every day. Maybe write a thoughtful note, lend a listening ear, do a chore or offer to run an errand.

Be kind to yourself

Wake up every morning and repeat five positive affirmations to yourself, or look a few up throughout the day when you hit a slump and need encouragement. Practicing self-care and love shouldn’t be a one-time deal; consistency will show you how far this really can go!

Ready for a fresh outlook on New Year’s resolutions? So are we! Here’s to a new year—may your mind, body and soul be the healthiest this year yet.

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