5 Small Changes to Make for a Happier New Year

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New year’s resolutions have never been productive for me. I imagine that many of us —including myself—are finding it difficult to set goals considering what this year has looked like for us globally. This year I found that adding small changes to my routine has helped me not only cope with the rollercoaster of emotions I’ve felt this year, but they’ve also helped me find new interests and even helped me reassess what’s important in both my personal and professional life. Because of my success, I wanted to share a few small tips to help make this new year more balanced and joyful. 

 

1. Make sleep a priority 

A study conducted by the CDC found that one in three Americans regularly don’t get enough sleep. I used to be one of those people until I figured out that sleeping gave my brain time to recuperate from staring at the computer for hours. I once thought that the longer I stayed up and got things checked off my to-do list, the longer I was productive. However, I often found myself having to spend more time on certain tasks because my eyes and mind were too tired. 

My body’s reaction to my unhealthy sleeping habits makes sense given our bodies repair themselves each night as we get our well-deserved shut-eye. The amount of sleep each of us needs is unique to us within an average of 7-9 hours. I find that being mindful of what time I stop watching Netflix, texting, and lounging helps me make sure I’m in bed by 11 p.m., as that is my personal sweet spot. Experiment with different times to find what works best for you and adjust from there.  

 

2. Add a mindful act of self-care to your routine

A few weeks ago, I asked my therapist if she thought self-care was really helpful. Of course, her answer was yes. As we talked, I questioned how something as simple as a cup of tea could help with mindfulness, and in my case, anxiety. I can’t remember exactly what she said, but what I took away from our conversation was that by taking the time to make a cup of tea or draw a bath, you are saying you deserve a moment reserved for yourself. 

Even with us being in our homes most of the time due to the pandemic, there’s still a lot to get done, and prioritizing ourselves is still important. We’re even working during a time where the physical boundaries of work for many of us are gone, which means closing our laptops when we’re “off” is even more difficult. Whether it’s meditation, tea, a bath, meditation, a walk, therapy, painting, or whatever you dream up, finding something small to do that gives you even a moment of peace is worth it.  

 

3. Find a workout activity you enjoy

At the start of the new year, it feels inspiring to embark on a new workout journey. However, sometimes we can get lost in physical transformation, and not take the time to figure out what activities we really enjoy that we’ll want to stick with even after the celebratory feelings of the new year have worn off. Exercising in the past has felt like a chore, but I found my thing in quarantine. Seeing my body change has been great, but the energy boost and anti-anxiety benefits I get are why I don’t skip more than a day of working out. 

 

4. Get organized

Organization is something I struggle with, especially when I feel like I have accumulated too much stuff. Decluttering your space isn’t just aesthetically pleasing, decluttering is proven to impact your moodNo one has time for that considering there’s already enough going on around us that triggers our stress. Investing in organization products is a great place to start, but going through items in your home and donating and tossing unwanted things helps make your room for a clutter-free environment. This includes home goods, clothes, makeup, and whatever else that is making you ask yourself, “Do I ever use this?”

 

5. Set boundaries with your phone and social media 

Setting boundaries with my phone, social media, and technology, in general, is an ongoing struggle—one that I often try to amend with no success. Going cold turkey feels pretty impossible, so I have adopted a subtle, but consistent approach to this one. For starters, I no longer roll over and check my phone the moment I open my eyes. Secondly, I shut down my screen time at 9 p.m. each night.

Social media can have a positive effect on our lives, but like most things in our lives, overconsumption can bring about negative effects—in this case, sleep disruption, anxiety, and depression. If you’re like me and are looking for ways to have a healthier relationship with social media, Start with silencing notifications, sleep with your phone across the room (or in another room), and avoid social media an hour to 30 minutes before bed. Each of these tips are expert-approved suggestions that can help us find balance with technology. 

I find myself saying this a lot lately because I know it to be true: small changes can lead to a big impact. Find small things that work for you and your world.