A first date can set the tone for a relationship, and the first few days of the New Year can set the pace for the following twelve months.
It is not that these moments set the future in stone.
You can always recover from a mistake or getting off on the wrong foot.
But, it can help your state of mind and your motivation and goals if you start the New Year right.
Take time out for yourself
With end-of-year festivities, from work parties, to Christmas or Hannukah, or other religious holidays, to New Year’s Eve, we do tend to wrap up the year with a fairly indulgent bang.
The time out is important, and the excess can be fun, but after all that it can be good to reset, reflect, and return to healthy habits that make you feel proud of yourself.
Some quiet, alone time can be really beneficial to refocus on your strengths, reflect on the kind of person you want to be, and decide if there is anything you would like to improve or learn.
How much, and how you take time out will depend on your work load, if you have to take care of others, your home situation, and your own needs.
But, consider including some of the following in your time out.
A digital detox
A digital detox is a great way to remove distractions and get some respite from addictive notifications and scrolling.1
You can go all in and pack the phone and computer away for a few days, or you could just block social media, or turn off your notifications.
Take more exercise
Walking, stretching, taking a bath, going for a walk, taking a sports or yoga class, and getting a massage are other ways to get your mind off your routine and pending tasks, and back on to your own needs.
Face your fears
To cleanse your mind, consider listing the things from the past or present that bother you.
It is important to acknowledge and name the things that you feel, rather than push emotions away.
Write about them in a letter, or start keeping a diary, or even an anxiety journal.2
Set goals or New Year’s resolutions
Goal setting is ultimately just a personal plan of action.3
Avoid vague goals (for example, ‘I want to be amazing’), and choose concrete, achievable goals (for example, I want to read 20 books this year).
Avoid overwhelming yourself with a long list of goals too. Choose between two and five goals, to give yourself the best chance of achieving them.
Setting such goals is more than a symbolic exercise – they can then help you to make the right decisions, prioritise, and stay focused and motivated.
They can also play a key role in shaping how you see yourself and help you to have a positive approach to life.
Once you achieve your goals (or even once you see yourself progressing towards them), you will feel a sense of self accomplishment that is removed from needing validation from others.
This in turn helps you with self-confidence, efficacy, and self-reliance.4
New habits and small changes
When setting goals for the New Year, it is worth taking into account your emotional needs, so you can lead a happier life, and your physical needs, for a healthier life.
Cleanse your body
Consider a body cleanse. While long term diet changes will make all the difference to your health, spending a few days focusing on what you eat (and enjoying cooking it, if you want), making sure you get enough water, and switching from coffee to some cleansing ginger tea or green tea, will provide you with a soothing physical refresh.5
This refresh can help you re-focus on your body’s needs, and help you make decisions about new habits.
Rebalance your diet
Small changes you could ponder including, may be eating more whole foods, sitting less and moving more, and cutting back on sweetened beverages.
These sugary drinks can increase your risk of obesity, fatty liver, heart disease, cavities, and insulin resistance.6
Spend time on you
You could also consider getting more quality sleep, cooking more meals at home, spending more time outside (to relieve stress, elevate your mood, and lower blood pressure), adding more cooked and raw vegetables and fruit to your diet, and reducing any smoking or drinking you do.7
To make things fun, you could also think about learning a new (healthy) recipe each week (then share the glorious photos on social media), or trying out a vegetable or food you have never had before each month.
Whatever you choose, take the time to make this next year really count.
Want to explore more ways you can look after yourself? Read our article on 5 ways to improve health and wellbeing.
Last updated: 31 March 2021