The start of a new year brings an abundance of fresh beginnings and unique opportunities for self-improvement. New Year’s resolutions are often daunting, so why not make sure you start your new year off right by improving your already awesome self? Here is a comprehensive list of simple life hacks with the ability to dramatically change your life and improve your mental, emotional, and physical self. Be the best you this year, not a just new you!
Do Some Decluttering
Start the year off by creating a clutter-free zone for yourself. Whether this includes cleaning your favorite room in the house, or the whole house, having a clean space can help you stay productive and focus on other tasks or hobbies you prefer to tackle throughout the day. Studies have shown the more organized someone’s home is, the more optimistic and clear-minded they’ll feel.
Alternative methods for organizing your space, like Feng Shui, teach that there is a direct correlation between an individual’s health and the quality of the energy in their space. For instance, consider the air quality as well as the amount of natural light and colors in a room to create a more vibrant, joyous, and productive home or office space.
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Go For A Walk Or Run
Studies show a brisk walk or run benefits individuals by burning calories, improving muscle strength, and working their cardiovascular system. The American Heart Association states walking or running can reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, lower high blood pressure, and improve blood sugar. Running can also decrease the risk of hypertension as well as uterine and bowel cancer. Studies also show walking or running for at least twenty minutes a day can help improve focus, alleviate headaches, fatigue, and depression, while also improving mental health due to the brain releasing dopamine after such activities. Plus it also gives individuals a sense of achievement, aiding in self-esteem improvement and physical self-perception.
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Start Your Day With A Smoothie Rather Than A Coffee
Start your day off right by drinking a healthy smoothie made with fresh fruits and vegetables; good fats, such as avocados; and high protein, such as Greek yogurt or protein powder. This quick breakfast will leave you feeling full and satisfied as it is packed with the antioxidants and vitamins your body needs, which will give your morning the perfect energy punch you need to power through the day. Some great tips for morning smoothies include selecting a base of water, juice, or milk; two fruits and one vegetable; and a protein such as peanut butter, protein powder, or yogurt.
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Read For Thirty Minutes A Day
Many individuals are surprised at the number of benefits reading can provide for their mental and emotional wellbeing. An individual who regularly reads reaps the benefits of mental stimulation, which can help slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, as the brain is kept active. Reading can also reduce stress, increase your knowledge of the world, expand your vocabulary, improve your memory, create stronger analytical thinking skills, improved concentration, and bolster writing skills. Also by reading for just thirty minutes a day, you will be able to complete more books within a year. The more you know, the more you grow!
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Try A New Workout Routine
By switching up your regular workout routine and trying something different, such as HIIT, Tabata, Pilates, or yoga, not only will you not get bored, but you will also shock your muscles and prevent adaptation, which can create a fitness plateau. By diversifying workouts, your body will continue to get stronger and lose more weight, allowing you to reach fitness goals more efficiently. So the next time you hit the gym, try introducing new exercises into your routine rather than just increasing your reps and weight, though it is worth pointing out you still want to do this occasionally to improve your strength.
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Create A New Music Playlist
Creating a music playlist of your all-time favorite tunes or exploring new songs provides significant mental and physical health benefits. These including alleviating anxiety and depression, putting the listener in a positive mood, significantly improving sleep, and providing both enhanced cognitive and physical performance. You may either create a playlist yourself or use one of the numerous streaming sites with an extensive library of pre-made playlists with feel-good and upbeat music. Try to pick songs that make you remember a great time in your life, make you feel good, or elicit any other positive reaction when you hear them.
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Practice Yoga And Meditation
With numerous health benefits, yoga is one of the easiest and relaxing ways for individuals to improve their overall health. Benefits include increased flexibility, defined muscle tone, higher strength, improved respiratory and metabolism levels, weight loss, enhancement of cardio and circulatory health, and injury prevention. It can also help alleviate anxiety, depression, and stress.
Whether it is first thing in the morning, in the afternoon for a boost, or at night to help de-stress, meditation offers many benefits including a better night’s sleep, weight loss, and helping to relieve anxiety and stress. Find a quiet space and take five minutes out of your day to relax and reflect, while practicing deep breathing.
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Cut Out Sugar And Salt From Your Diet
Rest assured, decreasing your salt and sugar intake does not mean you have to give up all your favorite snacks. Little changes such as reducing your intake of sugary drinks such as soda, can help you lose an average of ten to sixteen pounds in a year! Also try to eliminate anything marked ‘diet,’ as they often have twice the amount of sweetener than products marked ‘regular,’ and often contain aspartame, which is an unhealthy artificial sweetener. Rather than using pure, white sugar to sweeten food, try replacing it with organic honey or cinnamon for a hint of sweetness. Remember to always read the labels on food carefully, so you know the amount of sugar, sodium, and fat it contains.
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Start A Gratitude Journal
Writing down a minimum of three things or people you are grateful for every day can dramatically increase your mood and keep things in perspective when life gets chaotic (as we all know it does). Journaling alone can provide a healthy outlet to vent about challenges you are facing, help alleviate stress, reduce anxiety and depression, improve sleep quality, and keep you in a positive mindset. Also, recording goals and affirmations can help you manifest them into reality, and allow you to feel more empowered and successful. Social media sites are an excellent resource for journal writing prompts if your inspiration ever dwindles, but do it when you feel like it and inspiration strikes you, not because you have to!
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Start A Bedtime Routine
Getting into a healthy bedtime routine can allow you to sleep better. For instance, turning off all gadgets twenty minutes before going to sleep can improve your overall quality and length of sleep, as it allows your brain to enter a deeper REM state. Your bedtime routine can also include a hygiene routine by showering or taking a bath, doing light stretches, taking melatonin or other sleeping supplements to aid in falling asleep faster and for longer, reading or listening to soothing music to relax an overactive mind, and setting the alarm. Many smartphones have ‘bedtime’ apps attached to the alarm, which can regulate your sleep patterns and get your body into a positive sleep cycle. Just make sure to do it long before hitting the hay!
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Try Something New
Have you been yearning to try a trampoline park or that new cafe down the street? Whether it’s something big or small, indulging in your creative side by attending a paint night, taking music lessons (or trying something more adventurous such as bungee jumping) will help you venture outside of your comfort zone and will often increase your confidence and self-esteem while improving your mental and emotional health. Trying something new and exciting can also reduce boredom, loneliness, and can lead to personal growth. Take the plunge and find a new passion or develop a skill you have been putting off. You deserve it!
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Weekly Meal Prepping
By preparing your meals in advance, you can reduce the stress you would have otherwise felt throughout the week of trying to organize weekly lunches and dinners. Meal prepping also gives you the opportunity to try the new recipe you’ve seen plastered all over the internet without having to sacrifice hours on a weekday. Preparing meals at the beginning of the week also allows you to control the food you are putting into your body rather than falling victim to making whatever is the quickest in your kitchen or grabbing take-out. It is also the simplest way to ensure you are eating enough fruits and vegetables, and proteins within your diet, while also introducing new foods to your palate.
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Get A Planner Or Use A Calendar App
Studies show by staying organized you can decrease stress, anxiety, or feeling too overwhelmed with all the things you have to do. A yearly planner, calendar, or other apps on your phone can easily help you stay organized, efficient, and hopefully eliminate procrastination. To stay clear-minded and focused, also ensure you leave enough daily free time for yourself or the unexpected! You can go to a bookstore to purchase a unique yearly planner, or there are numerous apps available in the app store for you to download with the ability to help you stay organized and efficient in all areas of your daily life.
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We live in a chaotic world, and sometimes it just feels good to give back to a cause we are passionate about. Not only will volunteering allow you to give back to your community and make the world a little bit better, but you will also experience a sense of joy, gratitude, and gain a more positive outlook on your life and the world. Examples of doing good or organizations to look into in your community include helping out at an animal shelter, serving at a soup kitchen or food bank, planting trees in your neighborhood, entertaining at a retirement home or local hospital, as well as helping run any special events or marathons supporting local foundations.
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Get Outside More
Reconnect with nature and your surroundings. Nature provides an abundance of benefits such as stress relief, improving short-term memory, restoring mental energy, enhanced creativity and thinking capabilities, as well as sharper concentration and vision. This is even beyond the number of nutrients the sun provides our bodies, such as vitamin D, which is essential for fighting cancer, bone health, supporting the immune system, decreasing the symptoms of asthma, and protecting the brain from dementia. So take a hike in a conservation area, ride your bicycle to work, take your kids to the park more often, or simply take a stroll around the neighborhood. As long as you turn off the television, get outside, and soak up the sun, it works!