This post was written by Sophie Uliano, New York Times bestselling author and certified holistic nutritionist.
I have to confess, I’ve always kept a personal bucket list. Whether it was moving from the UK to America (check) or tandem skydiving (future check), the idea of a must-do life list has always inspired some creativity on my part. But as a woman of a certain age, I’m starting to veer my bucket list away from the extreme activities towards more health-centric practices.
I like the idea of long term bucket list activities, because as we get older it’s our healthy habits that sustain our wellness. Besides, I'm not going to enjoy my bucket list activities if I'm not well. I need a strong, flexible body, and plenty of buzzy energy to do the things that'll make my heart sing - The things I dream about! As a Wellness Educator and Holistic Nutritionist, I understand that a clean diet, targeted exercise, mindfulness, and hormone balance are key components of optimum wellness. So, as you evaluate your personal bucket list this year, I encourage you to consider the following five activities that you may want to add!
1. Keep a journal … maybe even a bullet journal!
Merely a generation ago, keeping a journal would not have been a “wellness” practice, but in today’s go-go-go, mile-a-minute lifestyle, taking time to not only document, but reflect on daily life can be downright luxurious. But journaling has far-reaching effects beyond something to page through down the line. Journaling is a mindful practice that can help us identify roadblocks, channel emotional energy and clear the mind. Grab a composition notebook and pen and give it a whirl - I’m willing to bet once your in the habit of journaling, you’ll go much longer than one year. You could also start a bullet journal. My bullet journal is filled with images, ideas, bucket lists for every area of my life, accountability charts and more. I love it so much that I'm beginning to teach this style of journaling on my wellness retreats.
2. REALLY deep clean your home … With the intention of getting rid of “stuff” and "detoxing"
I love the feeling of a clean home. And if you’re anything like me, you’ve lived in your home a long time - “stuff” of all shapes and sizes accumulates. From dust in those hard to reach places to that bag of old clothes you put in the garage four years ago - it starts to add up. I’ve found a solution that not only helps me maintain my sanity and avoids a once-yearly purge that zaps me of all my energy, but also helps maintain a “healthy” home. I’ve set up a calendar where I commit to deep cleaning one room per month. Obviously a yearly cleaning schedule doesn’t work for high-traffic rooms like kitchens and bathrooms, but by assigning rooms like guest rooms, home offices, and hall closets to a calendar, I know that at least twice a year, every room in the house will get a sprucing up, and a thinning out. I always clean with the intention of eliminating grime and unnecessary “stuff.” Of course, always recycle wherever possible. The Humane Society would love your old pillows and blankets. Schools are always in need of books at all levels. Shelters are in desperate need of personal toiletries like the ones from hotels. Larger furniture can go to GoodWill. Keeping your home clean is a huge wellness goal - this is a great way to tackle a job that feels endless. I clean with green cleaning products (often DIY ones), and take the time to ask myself if each area of my home is as toxin-free as possible. Since, many of these indoor pollutants can add to our "body burden" of toxic chemicals, I make it a big priority minimize anything that could contribute to poor air quality, such as dust, pesticides, toxic cleaners, etc
3. Plant a garden … No matter how small
There is endless science available that proves gardening is directly linked to wellness - physical, mental and emotional. Growing plants is hugely rewarding - it’s the circle of life right before your very eyes. Not only are you tending to and harvesting your garden, but you’re getting quiet time and physical exercise in the process. If you’re in a space where your yard can double as a garden, that is amazing. Try planting fruits and vegetable plants to really reap the benefit of your efforts (squash and strawberries are always great bets. I planted an acai tree this year and LOVE it). If you’re in a smaller space, or if mobility is an issue, there are tons of alternatives to experience the joy of gardening. I love window gardens - you’ll always find a selection of fresh herbs or bulbs growing at my kitchen window. There are tons of systems (from DIYs to kits) available online. And no home is complete without an air purifying plant, such as Peace Lily or Boston Fern.
4. Take a healthy trip … Experience a wellness retreat, eco-travel and so much more
Wellness travel has become hugely popular in recent years. And with so many options - from yoga retreats to international destinations to food-based tourism - There’s sure to be an experience that fits your interest and budget. I’ve hosted a number of women’s wellness retreats in recent years - from Miami Beach to Palm Springs to my upcoming Mind Body Gorgeous Retreat at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. It truly is an incredible experience attending a retreat. You’ll meet like minded people, develop new friendships, do the "inner" work in a safe environment, learn wellness practices to take home and implement in your life, and meditate. These are things that are hard to do at home. We're honestly all way too busy and fragmented. Taking yourself away to an exquisite location to experience wellness in its entirely is a gift that keeps on giving. Adding a wellness retreat to your bucket list is absolutely a financial investment, but the rewards are far reaching. I always say, "You pay now, or you pay later!"
5. Give your time to a cause that fills your heart with joy
I am a huge believer in being of service. In my wellness retreats I teach that the only way you'll find your true purpose in life is to constantly ask how you can be of service. In recent years, I’ve found incredible joy in spending time at my local dog shelter (I love animals). I’ve found just walking dogs a few days a week has an incredible impact on my wellbeing. Not only am I getting the primary benefits of moving my body trying to keep up with the pups, but I feel good about how I’ve spent my time. Find an organization whose mission shares your values, and give your time generously. Being of service is a wellness goal we can all share - You’ll be active mentally and physically, you’ll meet new people and you’ll make a real difference in your community.