A new year is upon us, and what better time to start thinking about improving your health and wellbeing?
To help boost your wellness all year round, we’ve pulled together 12 challenges to take on in 2024.
1. Step up your walking
Increase your walking by challenging yourself to stroll for at least 30 minutes each day for a month, or to complete 10,000 steps a day. According to Bupa, walking can have a host of mental and physical health benefits – including improving your mood and reducing stress, as well as helping to increase your cardiovascular fitness.
If you’re struggling to fit a dose of daily walking into your schedule, take on the ‘no car’ challenge. Try to go a full week or longer without using your car. This will encourage you to walk or cycle where you can and take public transport for longer trips. It’s not only better for you, but the environment too.
While walking outside can do wonders for your wellbeing, it’s important to keep moving throughout the day too. So make it your mission to get up from your desk or sofa every 30 minutes! If you struggle to take time away from your desk, why not invest in a standing desk or ask colleagues to switch an online conference call for a walking meeting instead?
2. Give your meals a veggie edge
If you’re wanting to make healthier food choices, upping the number of vegetables you eat each day is a great place to start. Challenge yourself to include at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day for a full month – no excuses!
There are lots of benefits to improving your veg intake. They’re a great source of all sorts of vitamins and minerals and can help to reduce your risk of some illnesses and diseases.
Plus… it can be fun to try new things and experiment with new recipes. Shakes, salads, stews, soups and stir fry are all great ways to incorporate vegetables into your diet while keeping your meals super tasty. To mix up your monthly wellness challenge even further, you could always set yourself a goal to try a new plant-based recipe every week.
3. Ditch the drink
Most of us have heard of Dry January but you can go booze-free any time of the year. Reset your body and mind with a sober stretch. There are plenty of benefits to pressing pause on alcohol, including better sleep and more energy. Check out the Alcohol Change UK website for more information and top tips to help you get started.
Sometimes, we don’t always recognise how much alcohol we may be consuming. Drinkaware’s Drinking Check can be a good place to start for those who are looking to kickstart their personal journey, or anyone keen to get some valuable insights into their drinking habits.
4. Set a sleep routine
We should all aim to get around 7 or 9 hours of sleep every night, though according to Mental Health UK almost 1 in 5 people aren’t getting enough sleep.
A good night’s sleep gives your body and mind chance to rest and repair, which in turn keeps your immune system strong and rejuvenates your energy levels. You can find out more about the benefits of sleep on the Bupa website.
One of the best ways to improve your sleep is to work out a sleep routine – and stick to it. So why not challenge yourself to follow your new routine every day for a month? Here are some top tips to help you get started:
- Set an earlier bedtime, and consistently go to bed at the same time each day
- Limit caffeine and alcohol
- Create a peaceful sleeping environment that’s dark, quiet, cool and cosy
- Have some screen-free time for at least an hour before bed and an hour after you wake up
- Stop eating at 8pm (or 4 hours before bed) to give your digestive system a rest
- Try practicing some breathing exercises to help you relax if you’re struggling to sleep
- Start a sleep diary to record different elements of your day (such as how much exercise you did or how long you spend on your phone before bed) that may affect your quality of sleep
5. De-clutter to de-stress
Swap working or living in a hectic space to a more peaceful, relaxing environment. This year, challenge yourself to take a bit of time out to organise your space. Whether it’s tidying your work desk or having a clothing clear out, you could find decluttering helps to reduce stress and boost productivity. Check out even more benefits of a good clear out on the Psychology Today website.
You could also set yourself a challenge to organise your day in a different way. Preparing a task list for the day ahead can help you keep focused and make the most of your time when tomorrow comes.
6. Stay hydrated
We should all aim to drink between 6 and 8 glasses of fluid a day, yet the average Brit drinks less than half the recommended amount.
Set yourself a goal to drink more water every day for a month. It’s a good idea to add reminders on your phone or work calendar to fill up your water bottle every few hours – you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget to drink!
For a bit of extra flavour, add sliced fruit to your water to encourage you to drink more. You could also opt for beverages such as tea or coffee to help you boost your fluid intake.
7. Practice gratitude
Focusing on the things you do have rather than the things you don’t have could help your overall sense of wellbeing. Research suggests practicing gratitude could help to improve happiness and contentment – but how can you get started?
Set yourself a challenge to write down three things you’re grateful for every week in a gratitude diary. Even when you’re faced with a challenging day or week, reminding yourself of all the things you’re grateful for can help you to feel more positive. Positive Psychology has a great guide to gratitude to kick-start your journey.
8. Think about saving
Let’s not forget about the importance of financial wellbeing, which is all about having a good relationship with spending and feeling confident when managing money.
One of the best money challenges is to track what you’re spending vs what’s coming in. You’ll soon spot ways to cut down on your spending (such as cancelling subscriptions you no longer use).
If you really want to challenge yourself, try a ‘no spend week’ that’ll help you really reflect on how much you spend without thinking about it. For a full week of the month, spend nothing except for your basic essentials.
Our guide on ways to manage a budget is a great starting point if you want to start tracking your spending.
9. Learn a new skill or focus on a favourite pastime
Set yourself a challenge to learn something new or reignite your love of an old hobby for a full month.
What’s the one skill you really wish you had? Perhaps you want to practice your cooking skills or learn how to play an instrument. Or maybe you love to read but just don’t seem to have the time anymore.
Enjoying a hobby can help you to switch off and relax, appreciate a sense of achievement and make new friends – all of which contributes to a greater sense of wellness.
10. Do good
One of the most rewarding things we can do is to contribute to good causes. Whether you take part in a fundraiser, volunteer for a charity or local organisation, or complete a random act of kindness… challenge yourself to do one ‘good’ thing every month.
Research shows that 77% of volunteers felt that volunteering improved their mental health and wellbeing, with 53% reporting physical health benefits too. Giving also has a similar effect, with ‘feel good’ chemicals released when we give our time, money or even something as simple as a compliment.
11. Digital detox
Set yourself a goal to ditch the tech for at least a day a week for a full month… are you up to the challenge? Stepping away from a screen can help to reduce stress, increase productivity, boost sleep quality, improve mood and much more. Check out Unplugged’s digital detox fact sheet to find out more about the benefits of some phone-free time.
If you’re not keen on ditching all-things tech for a full day then you could always set yourself digital deadlines instead. For example, stay away from your screens an hour before bed, avoid your phones during meals or try a social media fast for a set amount of time each month.
12. Connect with other people
Connecting with others can help us to feel closer to people, reducing feelings of loneliness and improving our social wellbeing.
Making friends as an adult can be tricky, though, so challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone and improve your social connections. Here are just a few ideas:
- Take time each day to share a cup of tea or a meal with family
- Bring your lunch to work to enjoy with colleagues
- Make an effort to chat to your neighbours
- Join a social group or try a new activity
- Try out a meet-up app to help you find platonic friendships
- Write a handwritten letter to a loved one to show you’re thinking about them
- Contact a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to for a while
Which challenges will you take on in 2024?
We hope these top tasks will give you the motivation you need. You never know, what starts as a one-off challenge can soon become a lifestyle change! Why not share your own wellness tips with us on Facebook?
Sophie Venner is a Yorkshire-based content writer specialising in crafting content for the financial services industry. She’s written over 300 articles on finance, but she’s covered everything from insurance to digital marketing trends. Her content has been featured in the likes of Semrush, Digital Marketing Magazine and Insurance Business. In her spare time, you won’t find Sophie far from a notepad and pen as she squirrels away trying to write a novel.
Friday 22nd December 2023