31 Days to Zen

August can be a tricky month. It’s technically still summer vacation, and summer-brain definitely still reigns. But it’s also a time of transition back to “normal” routines. To help you keep your vacation cool as long as possible this month, we’ve put together this 31-day guide to a Zen state. Do something every day that will have you feeling calmer, more centered, and happy.

Turn off the TV. Was it really worth cutting your sleep short to watch the shennanegans of those crazy Real Housewives of New York? Instead of staying up to watch TV or veg out on your computer, make an effort to get 8-9 hours of sleep every night this month. You’ll feel more energized and won’t need that extra cup of coffee to keep you going. Plus the time you save from skipping the boob tube will add, leaving room to work on spirit-enhancing projects you’ve been putting off.

Hang a summer picture. Pick one summer shot from your digital stack, print it out using Kodak Gallery, or other photo printing service that delivers the finished product right to your door. Order a frame (hint: get lovely custom ones on Etsy like the frame pictured here at the same time). Once they arrive, hang your picture up immediately.

Edit your closet. Chuck anything that is too big or small for your body type right, now — today. Don’t focus on what you did or will fit into- focus on the now.

Bake bread. You probably have the four ingredients required already in your pantry. It’s easy to make and we’re betting you find the entire process meditative.

Make water your main drink this month. You’ll save money on buying soda and other unhealthy beverages, and feel more cleansed and energized at the end of 31 days.

Prepare to seize the moment. Keep a blanket in your car trunk, just in case you see a nice field or park you want to sit down and relax in. {image via: Etsy}

Stay out of stores for 7 days. If you must buy food, shop for what you need at a farmer’s market. Focus on enjoying the things you already have.

Go for a stroll after dinner each night this month. Drink in nature’s sunsets, stop and smell a flower, chat with a neighbor…and burn a few extra calories while you’re relaxing. {image via: La Dolce Vita}

Edit what’s on your kitchen counters. Get rid of unnecessary or seldom-used equipment. How many times are you really going to use that ice cream maker? Make space for the essentials. {image via: Project Home}

Go au natural. Save time in the morning by learning to love your natural hair. If it’s curly, leave it curly. If it’s straight, leave it straight. If it’s frizzy (like mine), embrace the beauty of he frizz.

Say no to a request you don’t really want to do. If it makes you uncomfortable, re-read the chapter in our book, Pretty Neat for strategies that will help you reclaim your inner 2-year-old.

Find a fun way to tell someone you love them. Use one of our free printable lunch notes, write it in lipstick on a mirror, pick up the phone and leave a goofy rendition of “I just called to say I love you” on a voicemail… Don’t over-think it; just do it. {image via: Sally Jean Typepad}

Put the Crackberry down between 6-8pm. Every day. Eat with others during that time and be present with them.

Institute spousal QT. Pick a date and a time once a week for the next four weeks that you and your spouse will honor as your “quality time.” It could be an official “date” – or just a commitment to spend an hour on the back porch truly catching up with one another. {image via: apartment therapy}

Get a task you’re dreading out of the way. Schedule the time to tackle it first thing in the morning and when that time comes, get it done – no excuses. Chances are it will take less time/energy to do than you think AND you’ll enjoy the rest of your day/month more once it’s out of the way. {image via: Junia Isabel}

Make drive-time spent alone gratitude time. When you’re alone in the car (or on a plane or train), turn off the music, the phone, and any other noisy distractions. Use the time to reflect on everything you are grateful for. {image via: Pinterest}

Unclutter something. Whether it’s a small sock drawer or your entire office, decluttering is one of the fastest ways to feel better about your life and more in control.

Police your to-do list. DO write down all those things rattling around your head that you don’t want to forget to get to. But DON’T that list as a the blueprint for your days. The % of things on your list driven by the urgencies of others and unrelated to your true priorities may just surprise you. Start your day by identifying true priorities.

Save $1 a day. Find a way to save $31 this month, or more if you can. Saving money is empowering and makes you more mindful.

Pick one day to fast. Intermittent fasting has been shown to lower your risk of heart disease and even reduce the symptoms of asthma. It also sharpens your senses and will get you to be more circumspect about food. {image via: Moxie}

Focus on what your housemates & family do well. Rather than fixating on what your roommate/spouse/kid doesn’t do “right” (e.g. dirty dishes left in the sink) and instead make a mental note of all the things they do do well. Bonus points for thanking them for their positive contributions! {image via: ffffound}

Make your life easier. Store fresh bags in the bottom of your garbage cans. {image via: Seltzer Studios}

Go barefoot. Going without shoes puts you in a different, more relaxed minset. And according to some ancient philosophies, life-force energy called Chi (also called Qi or Prana) can be absorbed through the soles of the feet, which allegedly can increase your vitality and make you think more clearly. Scientific or not, it sure feels good to us! {image via: Beautynust Blogspot}

Switch paper subscriptions to digital. Instead of having physical newspapers and magazines delivered, subscribe to them online. It saves paper, and allows you to browse through more quickly to find the articles that match your interests. {image via: Dress Design Décor}

Rearrange a room. Play around with the layout of a “problem” room until you find a set up that gives you the most amount of free space in which to move around in. It will feel like a fresh start.

Tweak your dinner menu. Find new recipes that can be used with ingredients you normally keep in stock. You might discover some new family favorites! {yummy cowboy quesadillas via: our best bites}

Coordinate your chores. If you have to go to the grocery store, post office, doctor’s, etc., try to work it out so you do everything in one trip. It’ll save both time and gas money.

Stop multitasking. Enough has been written about this for you to know it’s a myth. Wear a rubber band around your wrist and snap it every time you find your focus shifting away from what you’re currently working on. {image via: Novh Tumblr}

Say “I’m sorry.” Let go of pride and learn to apologize the moment you know you’ve done something wrong. It’s a step towards self-improvement, and strengthens friendships. {neat note via: yegorka Livejournal}

Get on the do not mail list. Use the cool new online service, Updater, to organize your real mailbox. Sort of like the “Do Not Call” registry, it will stop all those pesky intrusions, like catalogs, coupons, and even unwanted charity solicitations. Your kitchen counters will thank you.

Cut your makeup routine down to only 2 or 3 steps, or go without for a day…or 31. There’s no need to cover-up that glowing summer skin. {everyday makeup tutorial via: Sugarlaws}