September is Self-Improvement Month, which sets a great reminder that taking care of yourself is a vital part of feeling your best and living a life that you’re proud of. Self-improvement can happen in the form of self-care, and can be implemented in many forms, including physical, mental and emotional practices. Each derives a different area of improvement that is associated with your body’s performance and mental health and can bring you to a stronger and healthier state of mind.

Self-care involves participating in an activity that boosts your overall well-being. These can be things that you enjoy doing on a daily basis, like reading, drawing or going for a walk. Everyone’s self-care regimen is different based on lifestyle and personal preferences, but just as long as you’re incorporating the things that make you feel like your best into a schedule, you’re leading yourself to a happier and more well-rounded version of yourself.

Although Self-Improvement Month is within a specific timespan, this does not mean that you need to reach every single self-care goal you’ve set for yourself within one month, or go back to an old or unhealthy way of life after the month is over. Instead, it gives you an opportunity to kickstart self-improvement goals that can be reached over a longer period of time. Yes, it’s possible to have a “glow up” within 30 days, but realistically it could take years for an individual to properly prioritize personal care and recognize their self-worth depending on their life experiences.

To learn more about what you can do to spark a self-care transformation, here are some tips to follow:

Start a Writing Journal

Journaling your daily thoughts can help you reflect on both the positive and negative situations you’re enduring in your life. This is especially beneficial if it’s challenging for you to communicate to others about what you’re going through. Writing improves your mood, calms the body and helps you identify the frequency of certain thoughts that are heavy on your mind. Journaling is an extremely beneficial self-care technique. It helps to clear your mind of self-doubt and gives you time to reflect on certain life experiences while taking a deeper dive into your emotions. What you write about can be anything you want it to be. As long it helps you improve your mental, emotional and spiritual wellness, you can count this self-care regimen as a success.

According to Penzu, it’s important to set a time for how long you want to write. Ideally, this should be between 5-20 minutes, and done consistently throughout the week in a quiet, non-distracting space where you can relax and focus. If it helps, put your smartphone or laptop in another room to avoid hopping on social media or answering phone calls and text messages. If you need a background noise to be able to write to the best of your ability, there are plenty of zen playlists on Apple Music or Spotify that you can utilize. Depending on your music preferences, you can also customize a playlist for journaling so you’re listening to some of your favorite tunes when you write.

Begin a New Hobby

Hobbies are a great way to get yourself involved in the community, and an even more fantastic way to meet new people. It might be helpful to look online for organizations and teams that are in need of assistance. This could be within recreational sports groups, volunteering services and classes that are hosted by people who are passionate about providing to society. You can join Facebook groups based on your interests and chat up individuals who have been involved to get a glimpse into their experience. Knowing that you are involved in the things that you enjoy participating in or giving back to creates a spread of positivity change, resulting in a more powerful self-reflection and appreciation for your own personal growth.

During the time of COVID-19, it may be difficult to find a hobby that is open to the public depending on where you’re from, but at-home hobbies can be just as fun and simple. If you're a crafty person, start a small-business to spread your creativeness to others. If you enjoy fitness, find online yoga or exercise classes to improve your physical health. Do you like spending time outside? Find local hikes to visit when you want to be in nature, or build and maintain your own garden to have fresh foods available nearby when you want to cook a nutritious meal. This might take a few trials to find exactly what you enjoy, but once you do, you’ll find that you’re happier and involved with people with common interests.

Dive Into Your Finances

Financial health can be a trigger to emotional and mental stress, as without a saving and spending system in place for your personal finances, it can make you feel overwhelmed that you won’t have enough in your checking account to provide for yourself. Due to the challenges that could be associated with underlying money management issues, like late bill payments or overspending, it’s important to incorporate personal finances into your self-care routine. Ultimately, we want to have full control over our finances, and to be able to comfortably create short- and long-term financial goals. But when you’re not organized, your mental health could take a toll and result in depression, anxiety or even anger.Developing financial habits isn’t a simple walk in the park at first. It takes time to learn how to organize your bills, create a spending plan and to properly invest your money. Whether this stress is coming from your source of income or poor financial wellness, there are many resources that can help you self-improve and adjust to a better financially friendly lifestyle.

With smartphones completely taking over today’s world with apps, information and digital tools, financial-technology is boosting in popularity and giving people a savvy way of managing their finances. Along with expense tracking apps and personal budget software’s, there are app-based banking solutions without a credit check that can help you manage your money regardless of how challenging your financial situation is and how far along you are with developing a self-care routine. By utilizing your mobile device for organization, you can simply access thousands of resources meant to reduce money-related stress and anxiety from anywhere, and in seconds. 

Participate in Random Acts of Kindness

To cultivate kindness is to create a positive environment for yourself and those around you. When individuals view you as someone who spreads good vibes and remains calm through difficult situations, they are more likely to emulate your behavior—creating even more generosity among a wider population. There are many ways you can participate in random acts of kindness, even something as simple as complimenting another person goes a very long way. Other options include sending a card to a friend showing your appreciation for them, making a donation to a cause that you’re passionate about and even treating someone to a coffee or lunch once in a while. Spreading kindness doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, but rather a simple conversation or plan to show your family, friends and others that you care.

Read or Listen to Podcasts

Self-help and motivational books consist of tips and tricks that can help you improve certain areas of your life. Depending on your topic preferences, you can find books for almost every subject—from relationship advice, to nutrition and exercise, to career growth. Reading about the parts of your life that you want to improve on can give you additional insight into more ideas that can help you achieve your goals, and even reading books on the same subject by different authors can give you numerous perspectives too. 

Podcasts are another great outlet for self-improvement advice. These can be found on music subscription websites like Spotify or Apple Music, or on blogs and other media outlets that provide personal wellness content. Podcasts can be listened to while you’re working, driving in the car, hiking or even when you’re hanging out around the house. If you’re struggling to find one that you like, ask other people about what they’ve listened to, or read reviews online about what others have to say about certain podcasters and how they frame their conversations. Some individuals talk about personal topics and life experiences, while others share general information and life tips. Don’t be afraid to listen to a preview before following a podcaster to ensure you know that it will be something you enjoy.

Sustain a Daily Routine 

Beginning your day with something productive, health-oriented or an activity that brings you joy is imperative to maintain. Mornings are a crucial part of your daily routine because what you do with the first few hours of your day can depict how the rest of your afternoon and evening play out in terms of your productivity and mood. Start with something simple like waking up and going to bed at a consistent time to keep yourself on a better sleeping schedule. Eating healthy meals is another vital part of feeling your best on a daily basis. Avoid skipping one to keep your energy levels high and to avoid head and stomach aches from a lack of nutrition. 

In terms of organizing your daily schedule, use a planner to map out the hours of your day and check off each completed task to visualize your success.  Using colored pens, sticky notes and labels can bring more creativity and organization to your planner, and can make it easier for you to categorize the different components of your routine, such as exercise, meals and work related tasks. If you’d rather use a digital method to craft and keep track of your plans, look into calendar apps or other internet services that provide online planners that are compatible with all phone providers. In some cases, these apps can be used on a laptop, phone and tablet, which extends your ability to use them across all of your devices.

Self-Improvement Month is the perfect time to envision, create and share a new and improved version of yourself. This process doesn’t have to happen overnight, and can take some time. The more you focus on yourself, for yourself, the better you’ll feel about the person you are becoming.