A couple years ago, I moved into a cozy, one-bedroom condo in DC—just barely larger than my college dorm room. Since graduating from college five years before, I had moved six times and changed jobs three times. I was tired of the whole process—throwing items last-minute randomly into bags, bribing friends with pizza and beer to help me move, and spending weeks living out of boxes until I had a free weekend to unpack. Between the moves and job changes, I desired some stability in my life. More importantly, I knew that it was time I focused on forming new habits to keep me grounded and help me manage these transitions. Here are some lifestyle tips I learned along the way.
01. Eat Healthy and Exercise
Eating healthy and exercising requires a lot of self-discipline, but it doesn’t have to be boring! Salads in a jar have become the new lunch trend, and a delicious one at that. Being the type of person who is always skeptical of new fads, I tried it out, half-expecting my salad to be stale or soggy. Well, it was neither—just simply delicious. Sure, it was more time-consuming to wash and slice fruits than grab a $2.50 pizza slice from down the street, but I could tell the difference in my energy levels throughout the day. Not to mention, this habit spiraled into a series of other healthy behaviors for me. I began blending green smoothies for breakfast, working out on an elliptical machine, and weight-lifting 2-3 times each week. To mix it up and meet new people with similar interests, I have also been looking into joining a recreational league for soccer and attending the November Project. These types of group activities can make exercising more fun as well as keeping us accountable through positive peer pressure.
02. Build Deeper Relationships
Calling and video-chatting with family and friends regularly has become increasingly important as I’ve moved around so frequently. Often times, reaching out doesn’t require much planning or coordination. A friend will call me for 5-15 minutes while she is driving home or doing laundry—we call it our “daily check-in”—to catch up, vent, and share exciting news. These few minutes of connecting with a family member or friend always refreshes me, bringing a sense of rootedness and joy to what can be an otherwise chaotic day.
At least once a month, I have a life chat, one-on-one, with one of my good friends. What is a life chat you may ask? It’s a time for my friend and me to get together and discuss meaningful moments in our lives and how they connect to our interests, goals, and passions. We share each other’s successes and challenges, as well as support each other when we need advice or just someone to listen. One of us typically hosts the other in the comfort of our apartment, where we enjoy sipping wine, snacking on taquitos, and—of course—eating an exorbitant amount of chocolate.
03. Volunteer at Local Community Organizations
Speaking of connecting with someone on a deeper level, I have found that serving people in my local community provides a joy rarely found elsewhere. From volunteering to serve meals to cleaning up your local park, there are a variety of service opportunities and finding one that fits your interests and passions can help in your own personal development. My most meaningful service experience was spending a summer volunteering at a free clinic in my local community. From administrative to clinical tasks, I enjoyed meeting new people, learning clinical skills and terminology, and improving my Spanish language fluency. Beyond developing new skills, this experience sparked my interest in pursuing a career in healthcare.
04. Learn Something New
Whether it’s a new language or practical how-to video, I’ve found myself constantly reading books and articles, watching Khan Academy videos and TED Talks, attending lectures, visiting museums, and traveling. Sometimes, it’s as simple as listening to a podcast or audio book while driving to work or walking to the grocery store. Learning more about the world around us and developing personal interests enables us to connect with those around us and meet new people in our community.
05. Develop Self-Awareness
Many of us get locked into routines and caught in the same cycles—and we end up reacting to situations, rather than proactively taking steps towards our long-term goals. To become more thoughtful in my daily actions, I’ve found that reviewing my day is crucial for managing my stress and preparing for the day ahead. A few minutes of self-reflection can be grounding, improving day-to-day interactions and performance at work or school. Every morning while I’m driving to work, I spend 10-15 minutes reflecting on the day before. I consider experiences for which I am grateful as well as my frustrations. Then, I prepare for the day that lies ahead so that I can recognize what I am grateful for as it is occurring, react to situations in a more thoughtful manner, and mentally prepare myself for stressful or difficult situations.
In addition to daily reflection, I review my long-term goals regularly—which can actually be more fun than it sounds. For example, vision boarding can be an artsy, inspiring way of helping us to gauge our movement towards those goals that are most important.
While these five habits can be difficult to do all the time, integrating them as much as possible into your routine may be helpful. When I feel uneasy or stressed, I always find myself going back to them, and the more I go back, the more likely they will become ingrained habits. As emerging adults, those of us in our 20s and 30s, we are constantly experiencing changes—new jobs, cross-country moves, break-ups—but these ideas are a few that can help us stay grounded, develop our interests and passions, and grow into the best versions of ourselves.