After a jolly season of turkey dinners, holiday parties, Champagne cocktails and more social obligations than you can even remember, it’s natural to want to pause and hit the refresh button in the new year.
That doesn’t mean making a new year’s resolution to lose weight. Instead, there are tons of other ways to actually restart your mind and body this month. It’s not only about picking up healthy new behaviors, but also considering some unhealthy habits you might want to let go of.
Here are 16 ways to hit the refresh button in 2016.
1. Reset your problem-solving: Take a walk.
The basic act of going on a walk can bring so many positive benefits to your life. Getting outside and walking increases your brain function and is linked to improvement in mood and reduced cancer risk and is a great way to boost your overall heart health. It might even protect against dementia and add years to your life.
But taking a walk can also serve as a “reset” and help you solve a problem you’re struggling with. Walking is often where people do their best thinking, and it’s a good catalyst for brainstorming. Something bothering you? Take a quick walk to get some perspective.
2. Reset your anxious thoughts: Learn to meditate.
With each passing year, the list of meditation benefits grows longer and longer. Expect better mood, better sleep, and a stronger immune system as well as lower blood pressure and stress levels (traffic? No biggie). A daily meditation practice is like a restart for your mind — almost like wipers on a rainy car window — and you feel refreshed and ready to face the day each time you practice. Even five minutes a day can make a world of difference.
3. Reset your vices: Cut out something for one week.
This isn’t about losing weight. Cutting out a substance that’s been overused in the last few weeks — like sugar, caffeine, or alcohol — can be a great refresher for your body. There’s no need to cut something out for a whole month; try limiting that substance for just seven days. The intention alone might change your future behavior: A recent study showed that those who even attempted to stop drinking for a month reported a decrease in alcohol consumption over the following six months.
4. Reset your diet: Focus on adding one thing in.
Instead of obsessing over trying to cut out bad foods from your diet, focus on one thing you’d like to incorporate more. For example, flaxseed oil is great for your health and is rich in omega 3s.
5. Reset your to-do list: Write it all down.
This time of year, many people feel stressed with the sheer number of tasks at hand. Returning holiday gifts, doing a big grocery store run and other bothersome errands — plus regular work tasks — are enough to make us all feel bogged down. One quick way to refresh your brain is to make a list.
The act of writing down everything you need to do can help quiet your mind and make things feel more organized before you’ve even done a thing. No need to complete all of the things on the list this week or even next week. Just get them all down on paper and out of your head as a first step.
6. Reset your mood: Do something that makes you laugh.
No joke — laughter improves our health and boosts happiness. The simple act of laughing has been proven to boost our mood and our immune system as well as relieve pain and lower stress. We usually feel refreshed after laughing — it’s why we so often let out that long sigh after a good laugh. Make an effort to see friends who make you giggle or watch a Netflix comedy instead of a drama this month. Your mind and body will feel lighter.
7. Reset your relationships: Make plans with an old friend.
We are all guilty of losing touch. Genuine catch-up time with friends can spread to weeks, months and sometimes even years. It’s easy to let an email sit in your inbox as you whiz right past it, thinking, “I’ll respond when I have more time.”
Reconnecting with a friend can invigorate your mood and bring a nice sense of calm. Pick one friend to reach out to and schedule a time to get together, talk on the phone or connect over FaceTime – a great option because it feels more like an in-person visit.
8. Reset your schedule: Make time for the “fun stuff.”
Know the difference between doing something you enjoy versus doing something productive. These are not the same things. Physically block off some free time for the fun stuff in your calendar or else the productive stuff will always bully its way in. Want to binge-watch a show? Great. Dying to sip some wine and listen to an album start to finish? Go you. Setting aside time for things that make you feel good might bring about more balance and joy in your life.
9. Reset your happiness: Start a gratitude journal.
The benefits of cultivating gratitude are plentiful — it can open up more relationships, enhance empathy, increase self-esteem and can even improve your physical and psychological health. In other words: shifting your focus to the positive can dramatically improve your happiness. But the key is consistency.
For example, try out a five-minute gratitude journal. Answer the quick questions first thing in the morning or right before bed and notice your mood shift this month.
10. Reset your creativity: Try a dream journal.
If you have trouble remembering your dreams, or are interested in examining them in a deeper way, try jotting a few things down the moment you wake up. Over time, you might notice your recall improving and you may also find that you feel more creative during the day. Writing is therapeutic; studies have shown that journaling can increase emotional health and you might just learn a little bit more about yourself.
11. Reset your productivity: Vow to organize just one thing.
This can be a kitchen cabinet, a single drawer, the trunk of your car, your computer desktop, or that devilish Gmail inbox. Crossing one of these things off your list can go a long way in decreasing stress and increasing your feelings of productivity.
12. Reset your imagination: Give up on that book you’ve been lumbering through.
It’s okay to bow out of something if you’re not loving it. More than halfway through a book? Who cares. Find a great new book to start instead — and never look back. Life is short. Be specific with where you put your energy.
13. Reset your conscience: Apologize to someone.
Apologize for something big or small. Like missing a birthday party, forgetting to call someone back or for being generally out of touch. Clear the slate and start fresh. That nagging voice in the back of your head will quiet down.
14. Reset your sense of wonder: Book that vacation you’ve been dreaming about.
This doesn’t have to be the biggest trip of your life if you’re feeling strapped for cash post-holidays. But pick a place you’ve been talking or thinking about for a while and make it happen, even if it’s 10 months from now. Having something to look forward to can serve as a major mood boost and refresh your outlook on work or daily tasks.
15. Reset your energy: Go to sleep earlier.
That movie, podcast or television show will certainly be there for you tomorrow. Sleep is one of the very best ways to give your overall health a powerful reboot. An extra hour of sleep can be the difference between a cranky morning and a calm one. Your mood, hunger and stress levels all improve with proper sleep. We’re talking 7-plus hours, people. Guaranteed freshness.
16. Reset your technology addiction: Power down 30 minutes before bed.
Try to get off your screens at least 30 minutes before you get in bed. Spend that time winding down, reading a book, sipping a cup of tea or even getting stuff ready for the next day. Pack your lunch, fold some clothes or tidy up around the house. This gives your eyes a break from your screen and cues your brain that it’s time to settle in.
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