Do you need a reset after the holidays? Whether it’s the new year, back-to-school season or the beginning of a new month, there’s something that makes those times feel like the fresh start you need to reboot your health and go after your dreams.
It’s no wonder 30-day challenges have become so popular to build healthy habits and make progress with your goals. We all know that changing your behavior takes time. But when you consistently practice a daily habit for one month, you can make real improvements in a relatively short amount of time. And yet, there’s always an end in sight when you feel like giving up. This also makes 30-day challenges the perfect opportunity to experiment with different routines to see if you like it.
You’ve probably seen trendy month-long challenges like the plank challenge and Dry January on your social media feeds. But as always, I like to feature ideas that are manageable for all kinds of energy levels. Because even if you’re chronically ill – or maybe especially! – making small lifestyle changes can add up to big results over time.
So check out these ten 30-day challenges and see which ones you’d like to try next month!
This blog post contains some affiliate links to resources you may find useful, at no extra costs to you. All opinions are my own.
1. One yoga pose a day
Yoga has become the poster child for wellness and healthy living. But what makes this ancient practice especially powerful, is that it addresses so many aspects of your wellbeing. Not only can a 30-day challenge of yoga make you stronger and more flexible, but the deep breathing and mindfulness also reduce stress, improve your focus and calm your mind.
What’s more, yoga is versatile and can easily be adapted to your own fitness level. No headstands or super-bendy asanas needed – you can modify yoga poses to fit your needs and even do simple exercises in bed. That way, yoga becomes a gentle activity that still helps to rebuild your core strength, flexibility and mental focus.
So roll out your yoga mat and try one new yoga pose each day. Or you can develop your own 3-minute routine, or start your day with a series of sun salutations. Whatever works best for you!
2. Eat veggies with every meal
There’s a lot of debate in the nutrition world, but there’s one thing that almost all experts agree on: we should eat more vegetables. But getting those five servings or 200 grams of greens in in one sitting can be a lot to chew on (literally). That’s why you should get into the habit of eating vegetables with most meals.
During your 30-day challenge, you could have a green smoothie bowl or eggs with kale and mushroom for breakfast. Pack in the veggies with salads or soup for lunch and snack on crudité with a dip or prepped beet berry muffins.
For many more ideas, check out 24 Exciting Ways to Eat Vegetables with Every Meal.
Putting pen to paper has surprising benefits for your emotional health. Journaling can be a safe outlet for your thoughts and emotions, which reduces stress and boosts your happiness. What’s more, writing down your goals and dreams makes it more likely you’ll achieve them. Even though journaling is a great tool for self-expression and emotion management, it can be hard to remember to jot down your thoughts every day.
So for the next month, make sure you schedule time in every morning or day to build your journaling habit. Get yourself a beautiful new journal and decide how you will use it. You can keep a classic diary, log your health or boost your happiness with a gratitude journal. Alternatively, you could take a page from The Artist Way and start your day with stream-of-consciousness writing sessions.
4. Cut down on caffeine
Do you have trouble sleeping at night or do you feel jittery after one too many cups of coffee? In that case, it could be helpful to experiment with cutting back on caffeine for a month.
When you abruptly stop drinking coffee, you might experience symptoms of caffeine withdrawal such as headaches, irritability and low energy. If that does not sound appealing, you could gradually replace each cup of coffee for an energizing alternative. For example, fill your travel mug with a matcha latte instead of a cappuccino, for a gentler buzz. Or try these 8 other coffee alternatives to start your day with a bang. And don’t forget that soda, energy drinks and chocolate are also high in caffeine!
5. Walk training
When you become ill or injured, you discover that being able to walk places is key to living a ‘normal life’, even in our sedentary society. From browsing the aisles of the supermarket to getting across the parking lot or going on a day out with friends, everything becomes easier if you’re able to move around on foot.
That’s why increasing your walking stamina can be a powerful health goal for a 30-day challenge. But how do you increase your daily step count in a doable way?
First, determine your current activity level. Keeping track of your steps for one week or more gives you a clear and realistic picture of how much you’re really walking each day. A walking log can also give you clues about when and why you struggle to meet the recommend goal.
Next, gradually build your walking stamina by adding 500 steps each week. Slowly work your way up, as long as it feels good. Don’t force yourself to push through if your body is telling you otherwise!
If you’re not a fan of counting steps, you could also focus on increasing the amount of time you walk or strolling one extra block every week. For more tips, read How to Work Your Way Up to Walking 10,000 Steps a Day.
6. Mindful micro-breaks
Who doesn’t mindlessly grab their phone when they have a spare moment? But let’s be honest: staring at a screen is not the best way to decompress and boost our energy. What if you’d spend those small pockets of time doing something that truly recharges your body and mind?
Mindful micro-breaks are short activities that calm your mind and relax your body. For your 30-day challenge, you could experiment with several mindful micro-breaks:
- You could do a walking meditation, by focusing on the physical sensations of moving your body.
- Singing also has a surprisingly positive impact on your wellbeing. The deep belly breathing, the focus on the lyrics instead of your worries and the healing power of music – they all help reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
- For a brief escape from your daily problems, you could tap into the power of your imagination and visualize yourself on a quiet beach.
- You can also make a habit of sneaking in a breathing exercise every time you wash your hands or when you’re doing the dishes.
To make sure you actually take a mindful micro-break and don’t automatically scroll through your social media feed when you have a minute to spare, combine this 30-day challenge with #10.
7. Get your daily nature fix
Do you spend most of your waking hours stuck indoors? You’re not alone. But for this 30-day challenge, that’s going to change. Because spending time in nature has tons of benefits for your physical and mental health. Being outdoors lowers your blood pressure, improves your immunity and promotes deep sleep, while also easing mental fatigue, anxiety and depression.
According to research, you should get 120 minutes of outdoors time or more each week. To reboot your health and happiness, try to spend at least 17 minutes a day in natural surroundings over the next month.
Even if you live in an urban area, you can probably find patches of green to go for a short walk every day. On the weekend, you could swap the concrete jungle for a visit to the park or a botanical garden. If you struggle to get outside due to chronic illness or a busy office job, try these 11 ideas to still get your daily nature fix – and bring the outdoors indoors while you’re at it.
8. Relaxing bedtime ritual
You’re probably all too familiar with all the ways that a lack of sleep hurts your health and daily functioning. Having a set bedtime can help you create a healthy sleep routine. Yes, that sounds childish. But there’s always one more email to check, just one more episode to watch, one last scroll through social media. If you aren’t sure what time you should go to bed, just count back 8 hours from when you have to get up the next morning.
But if you actually want to be able to fall asleep when bedtime arrives – and not just toss and turn for hours – you need to make sure your body and mind are relaxed. Having a daily bedtime ritual will signals to your brain it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep.
The first step is to stop doing stimulating activities one hour before bedtime. That includes working late at night or watching news stories that upset you. Instead, over the next 30 days, do something that relaxes your body and calms your mind. You could have a warm bath, listen to soft music or drink a cup of chamomile tea – whatever works best for you.
9. Switch off your sweet tooth
Humans are programmed to love sweet foods, but too much sugar really hurts your health. Did you know that drinking ‘just’ 1 to 2 cans of soda drinks a day already increases your chances of developing diabetes type 2?
The good news is, you can learn to resist sweet temptations and satisfy your sweet tooth in healthier ways. Challenge yourself to (gradually) curb your cravings in 30 days with these ideas:
- Swap soft drinks and fruit juices for healthier alternatives like (flavored) water, veggie juice and unsweetened iced tea.
- Sprinkle your latte macchiato with cacao or cinnamon instead of sugar.
- Replace refined carbs like white bread, white pasta and rice for fibre-rich, wholegrain versions.
- Have healthy snacks like unsalted nuts or berries and yoghurt at hand.
- Satisfy your sweet tooth with healthier alternatives, like a chia parfait or wholesome banana bread.
Going low-sugar for your 30-day challenge will boost your health in lots of ways. Take a look at these 6 steps to curb your sweet cravings for good.
Modern technology is a wonderful invention, but it can also be pretty overwhelming at times. Our brains are bombarded with more information than ever before in history, and at the same time, it’s becoming increasing harder to disconnect. If you’re feeling burnt out, anxious, depressed or serious FOMO, it might be helpful to unplug for 30 days.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to ditch all your electronic devices. Just set certain ground rules for yourself. Putting your phone on airplane mode one hour before bedtime is a good place to start. You can also have tech-free zones like the dinner table and bedroom, turn off notifications and have screen-free Sundays. If you’re more hard-core, take a 30-day social media detox or radially unplug for a weekend.
Make sure you don’t replace your digital habits by binge-watching Netflix or playing video games all night long. Take up an old hobby, go for a bike ride, connect with friends in real life or pamper yourself. In the end, aren’t those the things that make life worthwhile?
For more doable ideas to start rebuilding your health, check out ‘How to Create Your Own Action Plan for Recovery’.
Which 30-day challenge would you like to try to reboot your health and happiness?