For today’s post, I wanted to share some lifestyle changes I’ve made this year! With every new year, I try to always make positive changes to myself and my life. In this case, I wanted to round up the 12 Lifestyle Changes I’ve Made This Year to inspire you to maybe do the same! Some of these are a lot easier, whereas others might take a bit more work.
Even if you don’t make these particular changes, I always think it’s smart to strive to be a better you! There is always room for improvement, and that’s something I always make sure to remember. My post will share everything from my favorite audiobooks to the plant based foods I’ve found!
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1. Reading More Audiobooks
Audiobooks are one thing that I hadn’t really listened to as much until this year! That said, I really love listening to them and they help me to focus more while driving. My family lives about two hours away from me, so every time I go to visit, I listen to Harry Potter on audiobook! My app of choice is Audible and that’s because it’s only $14.95 a month.
I’m able to get a brand new book every month and they also give you around 5 to 6 free books every month! No, this isn’t an ad, but they are literally my favorite app to use and it’s proven to be my favorite thing to do on any road trip! I thought that I’d also list some of my favorite books, some of the best fantasy books, or any books that I’ve loved reading over the past few years.
- Becoming by Michelle Obama
- Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso
- More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth
- You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
- Our Time Is Now by Stacey Abrams
- Lead from the Outside by Stacey Abrams
- The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
- Bad Girls Throughout History by Ann Shen
- Harry Potter Books by J.K. Rowling
- We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
- Secrets of Six-Figure Women by Barbara Stanny
2. Using Google Tasks to Keep Track of Deadlines
This is a new thing that I’ve been doing! I used to use a physical planner to plan everything out, but then I realized I’m too OCD and every time I had to cross something out I would get mad. Using the Google Tasks app is awesome because if you have to update different dates/times you can quickly and easily do so!
Switching things around takes two seconds which is a lot easier than having to scribble something out and rewrite it multiple times. I also love that I can sync it with my work calendar and just have everything right there all in one place! That way I can keep track of every deadline that I have.
Honestly, using any type of calendar is totally fine! I still love having a notebook or a physical planner in order to write down my dates. If that’s what you prefer, then definitely do that! I used to do something where I kept a Notes page open on my iPhone. That way I could see the to do list that I have for the week, and all the really important things that I have to get done!
This is something really simple that I’ve done since I was in college because it would help me know what I need to do on a day-to-day basis to keep myself on track. Google Tasks has replaced this and now I can add all the same to-do items, but also add a date AND notes if needed!
3. Buying More Plants
You’re probably like, “Why is buying more plants on this list? How is spending money better for you?” Let me tell you why! Plants are good for the soul. They help make the area better in any space, they keep pollutants out of your home, and all around make everything a lot better!
I actually read an article that said, for Black people, it’s one way to keep them rooted to their ancestral background. It’s a way to keep us connected to where we came from, even if we’re not sure where that was. I hadn’t really considered this before, but it makes me so happy to think about!
Plants are also something that can just really make a space look more put together. They make it look more bohemian, bright, and happy! I just get excited to look at them. They’re also a lot cheaper than buying decor every few months and last literal decades.
No matter what space you have, they’ll always fit! Since everyone knows that I love plants, I wanted to list some plants that I personally have and love. I also wanted to list some really easy plants to start out with in case you’ve never bought any plants for your home before! To start: I highly suggest snake plants because they thrive on neglect. I only water mine maybe once a month!
Plants I Love:
- Snake Plants
- Alocasia Polly
- Fiddle Leaf Figs
- Elephant Ears
- Caladiums (I have a Moonlight Caladium)
- Cacti (thrive on neglect)
- Pothos (easy to care for)
- Victoria Bird’s Nest (reminds me of curly hair!)
4. Making Sure I Have One Day Off From Screen Time
This tip is really hard for anyone, but especially for a blogger/influencer like me. I don’t necessarily take one day off of complete screen time, because it’s honestly impossible. I don’t even know how I would do that, but I have tried to make sure that I stay off Instagram at least one day a week!
The main reason I do that is because I feel like with Instagram, it’s really easy to start comparing yourself to other people. Usually on Sundays I want a day to relax and enjoy my day off! It allows me to have a much happier headspace. If this seems impossible to do, one of my biggest tips is to set a screen time timer on your phone!
I actually saw that my sister did this, and it’s a great way to have your phone regulate your screen time for you. That way you don’t even have to put any thought into it! If a whole day is too hard for you, then just do half a day OR try a few hours. Start small and cut out social media for those few hours just to see how much better your headspace feels!
A great thing to do is to try and distract yourself with something else! If you have a ton of cleaning to get done, if you’re reading a book, if you have errands to attend to, then that’s a great way to start making yourself stay away from social media! If you want a list of 8 Podcasts for 20 Somethings that will keep you distracted, click (here)!
5. Spending More Time With Family and Friends
This is actually one of my goals every single year. I always try to make sure that I spend more time with friends and family and to just be a better person overall! Sometimes this is really hard because it’s easy to get super busy and just completely neglect everything that you’re not working on. For me, that’s especially easy to do because I’m a blogger and also I work full-time!
This year I wanted to segment out time that I can spend with other people and make sure that I’m being present. With COVID-19, that’s been a little bit harder because I haven’t been able to see my friends in person as much (or at all). That said, I have had FaceTime dates with three or four of my friends!
I actually also had a socially distanced brunch with my best friend Mikia and it made all the difference. It was so fun and it was nice getting to catch up! I know with COVID it’s a lot harder to see friends. Because of this, I wanted to also list some ideas for best friend dates you can go on while you’re socially distancing!
That way you can still make sure to spend time with your friends and be present with them all the time. The first thing that I have done with my friends is FaceTime dates! I really love these because you can literally see your friends right there, and still talk like you’re face-to-face. You basically just can’t hug them at the end like you normally would!
I also think having picnics is a great idea too! If you and your friend have been social distancing, just wearing masks and hanging out at the park having a picnic is a great way to still spend time with them! My mom and I have been running errands together, going to look at plants together, and buying gifts for other people together! It’s just been a really fun and easy way to hang out.
6. Tracking My Spending
This tip was one of the lifestyle changes I made to save money! When it comes to tracking my spending, I feel like I was doing really well at the beginning of the year. Once COVID happened, I kind of fell off and wasn’t as attentive to it as I should have been. That said, I still try to track my spending! I keep an Excel document that lists all of my expenses and also all of my income.
This is just a really easy way to keep track of where your money is going, where it’s coming from, and making sure that you’re not overspending when you shouldn’t be. For example, right now I have been saving so I can pay off all my student loans. I’ve been really careful to not overspend on other things that necessarily aren’t as important!
This can sometimes be really hard especially for people who aren’t as savvy when it comes to saving! My biggest tip on where to cut down expenses is to check out my post on 20 Easy Ways You Can Save Money which you can read (here). In this post, I actually outline twenty simple things that I’ve cut out of my budget!
Even though I have a pretty low income, I’ve been able to stop buying these items as much and have been able to save a lot more money. One of the items that I’ve cut back on are my weekly Starbucks trips! This is a lot easier since I’m not in the office. I’ve also cut back on eating out since I can’t actually go to restaurants. Getting delivery is even more expensive most of the time, so if you want to cut back, I highly suggest cutting out spending on food!
7. Eating Mostly Plant-Based Foods
This was more of a health thing for me personally, but it’s honestly changed my life in so many ways! I feel like people are quick to hate on a vegan lifestyle, and honestly some vegans are really aggressive about being vegan. I’m definitely not that way! I also will never turn down free bacon. This was more to see if if it would help my body and my various health issues!
I have asthma and I’ve had some stomach problems for a few years now. I also found out I was lactose intolerant about three years ago! Cutting out meat and dairy is something that I thought might really help with these problems. At first, I was kind of scared that it would be hard to find really good vegan food and plant based products.
It actually proved to be a lot easier than I thought! On a week to week basis, I normally shop at Walmart, Target, and sometimes Publix for my groceries. I’ve honestly never looked out for specifically vegan/plant-based foods, but once I started looking, I feel like they ended up everywhere!
I also was able to find a lot of things in the freezer section like frozen popcorn chicken that honestly tastes better than real chicken. Can you believe?! There were also a few healthy plant based meals that I like and are microwaveable. It’s also been nice to try and work more fruits and vegetables into my diet every day and I really appreciate that I’m able to! I can also get them with vegan food delivery from Amazon Fresh.
To finish up this section, I wanted to share some plant-based foods I love for each meal!
Plant Based Breakfast: Silk Almondmilk Yogurt + Granola
Plant Based Lunch: Vegan Pizza with Olives + Spinach
Plant Based Dinner: A Spring Mix Salad + Vegan Popcorn Chicken
Plant Based Snacks: Air Fried Chickpeas
8. Better Managing My Anxiety
This is one thing that I really made a point to work on this year! It’s been a problem that has gotten worse and worse over the past few years and I just didn’t want to live that way anymore. I have had (diagnosed) anxiety and depression for the past 3-4 years and I was sad all the time. It was hard for me to be happy about anything and I had a really bad outlook on almost everything!
I knew that I needed to get help, but I had moved around so much while in college, I never really had a chance to go to the doctor and try things that would work for me. That meant nothing ever really got better; it just kept getting worse! In March of this year, I decided that I wanted to take my future into my own hands.
I decided that it would be best to go to the doctor and to see if I could do anything about my anxiety problems! I’d previously tried to take medicine for it, and it proved to cause more issues for me. I had to stop taking the first medicine that I tried! This made me nervous to try a new one, but it’s now four months later, and it’s honestly helped me so much.
I am less angry, I don’t react as harshly to things, I don’t cry as much, and just feel like a more balanced person overall. Before I started taking anxiety medicine, I had been crying like every day. I’d started to think that was normal and IT WAS NOT. If you want to read about my anxiety journey, be sure to click (here).
9. Spending More Time Outside
This is one thing that was really helped by COVID if we’re being honest. I wanted to spend more time outside anyway, but because of the fact that I physically didn’t drive anywhere for like two months during the beginning of the pandemic, I ended up only being able go outside! I made it a point to make sure that I spent a little bit of leisure time outdoors every single day (to keep myself sane).
Normally that means going for a run, at least 1 mile every day, or just going on a walk for the same distance as well! I also make sure to go out to a greenhouse, whether that’s just the Walmart Garden Center, or to actual plant nurseries (like Pike Nurseries here in Atlanta)! I love them so much.
Just spending time outside with plants, and around trees hearing the birds, makes me feel happier. It’s a really good mood booster. If you’re feeling really tired and stressed out, then I definitely suggest you do this! You don’t even have to buy any plants either. I don’t buy plants every time I go, but sometimes I just go to experience how happy it is, and that’s great too!
10. Being More Active
I feel like this is one of the things that I want to do every year and sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fall short. This year I’ve really been able to keep up with it! My sister and mom are both super active. My sister works at a rock climbing gym, and my mom does pilates or yoga every single day!
I used to run cross country and track in high school, so I have always been pretty active. That said, I feel like I’ve kind of fallen off since I’ve graduated from college. This has been upsetting because I really love working out and I love the feeling that I’ve done something important and good for my health!
I usually run between 1.5 and 2 miles every day. I’ve been trying to work my way up to 3 miles, but we’ll see how that goes! I think it’s good to just get out there no matter what. I know for some people, working out is more of a commitment than others! Literally just go on a 15 minute walk, and then work your way up to 30 minutes!
This is just one of the easy things to do after work that will allow you to de-stress. Honestly, any movement every day is better for your health than none. Or, if you work from home, maybe do some arm weights while you’re sitting down in your chair! There are so many simple and easy ways to work out and get in shape that honestly I wasn’t able to find any excuses.
11. Being More Intentional With What I Do
This one can mean different things for each person. For me, it was being more intentional about the things that I did for my blog/social media accounts. That’s mostly because I feel like some full-time influencers utilize every single platform that they’re on and I felt like I was falling short. I’m only a “part-time” blogger and I honestly hated feeling that way!
I say part-time, but I really spend 30-40 hours a week on top of my full-time job working on my blog. It’s sometimes very stressful, but I share how I balance everything (here)! I think it’s important to know your strengths and weaknesses and decide what you want to do based off of that. I love creating videos, but one YouTube video takes me about eight hours to do!
One video every week is an entire Sunday (one of two days I have off) for me. I didn’t want to spend one entire day working on only one video, for one day of content. Especially because my YouTube channel isn’t that big! That’s honestly one reason that I started doing an IG TV series.
Some of my blogger friends and I did it for about three weeks and it was a fun way to be able to still create video content without having to learn an entire new platform! Instagram was also where my audience already was, so I didn’t have to focus on trying to grow an entire new audience in the same process.
I also think it’s easy to be more intentional with the rest of your life as well! If you’re not a blogger, I think there are easy ways to be more intentional about where you’re spending your time. If you’re spending too much time on something and it’s not showing results, then I would make sure that you stop doing that task!
It’s just going to take away from your energy and you don’t need that to happen. Really make sure that what you’re doing is what you like doing. That you’re putting your energy towards something that’s going to help you and your future! That, or just doing something that you love and that brings you joy. Whether that’s reading, or a special hobby that you have!
12. Being a More Understanding Person
Honestly, this kind of goes hand-in-hand with learning to manage my anxiety better. I really was not an understanding person when it came to a lot of things! This is something that I still struggle with, but you can’t get better at something unless you’re aware that you are that way. You have to purposely work to fix yourself!
I feel like when I used to get stuck in traffic and people were driving slowly, I would get really annoyed. I’d think, “Why are they driving so slowly?” Now I try to look at it from their perspective! If they’re not texting and driving, I think “Okay, maybe they’re just older and their reaction time isn’t as quick.”
That, or maybe they’re a student driver and they’re not used to driving on this road. I try to have a little bit more grace for everyone now! Another thing is that I try to be more understanding when it comes to things that might annoy me. For example, if I’m in the grocery store line and people are being slow or not paying attention, I just try to center myself!
I think that this may be annoying, but it’s going to be over in a few minutes and then you won’t care and it’ll be fine. I try to be more self aware and realize that if something is annoying me, then it’s going to get better soon! It’s not going to be the end of the world, and you have to be more understanding with the people that are in the situation with you.
Whew! That was a long post. If you made it to the end, thank you so much for reading! I really wanted to write this post because these 12 Lifestyle Changes I’ve Made This Year have changed my life. I’m happier, have a brighter home, value self-care more, and have spent more time with my family!
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Photos by Hannah Lozano