5 ways to kick off your New Year in the best possible way

5 ways to kick off your New Year in the best possible way

From getting outside more to reassessing your priorities, here are some ideas to help you start 2018 off on the most positive note possible.

From getting outside more to reassessing your priorities, here are some ideas to help you start 2018 off on the most positive note possible.

The start of a new year often prompts us to question what we can improve in our lives, which can be a very important exercise for achieving lasting happiness.

The key is to choose goals that bring positivity to your life, rather than making unrealistic demands on yourself that could bring stress if you don’t manage to achieve them.

So here are five oh-so-simple pieces of advice to help you get there, and to ensure 2018 is your happiest, healthiest year yet.

1. Prioritise what’s important

You might already have a wish-list of projects you’d like to start or goals you’d like to achieve, but even if you’re retired and have more free time than ever before, there are still only so many hours in a day!

Narrow your focus by writing down, in order of importance, the things that mean the most to you. Then take only the first or second items on the list and turn them into measureable but manageable goals.

For instance, ‘I want to feel more energised’ could turn into the measurable goal of, ‘I’ll go to yoga twice a week’. Writing them down means they’re more likely to actually happen, and focusing on only one or two will further improve your chances of success.

Accepting that you can’t do everything means you’re less likely to try to change too many things at once (and then give up on them all after a few weeks!). By this time next year, you’re sure to have seen real changes.

2. Be grateful

Did you know gratitude is the opposite of stress? Clinical trials have shown that consciously thinking of things you feel thankful for can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and even help you sleep better.

The great thing about increasing your gratitude is that it doesn’t even take a lot of time or effort. Simply write down something you’re grateful for that day – it doesn’t have to be huge, or new. Maybe it’s your expanding family (hello grandkids!), something as small as a really good cup of tea, or something as big as a new opportunity.

Spend a few minutes being thankful for what you have. Reminding ourselves of the good things in our life helps put any worries or problems in perspective – which in turn, helps us feel happier.

3. Challenge yourself

Without new goals and challenges, we rarely push ourselves out of our comfort zone – which means we’re not only missing out on boosting our skillset, but risking our confidence levels dropping, too.

It’s not too late to push yourself to learn something new, whether it’s signing up to a pottery class with friends, joining a yoga course or learning a new language – and don’t let the fear of failure put you off. Focus on the best possible outcome, instead of worst-case scenarios.

And once you succeed in your new skill? Be sure to celebrate – you deserve it.

4. Put yourself first

You’ve spent the past few decades focusing on those around you, raising a family and building a life to be proud of. Now’s the time to stop and think about yourself again.

Work out what you need to be happy day-to-day and make sure you’re getting it – whether that’s listening to your favourite radio show first thing in the morning, getting some fresh air in the evenings or taking an afternoon nap once you’ve looked after the grandchildren.

You’d be surprised at how much happier and healthier you can feel with a few daily lifestyle tweaks. That might include learning new meditation techniques or relaxation exercises, or just spending more time with your loved ones. Whatever it is that makes you feel good, do more of it: the positive impact on your life will be immense.

And don’t forget, there are lots of small changes you can implement that’ll make your life that bit easier and boost your free time even more. For example, stock up on home helpers such as Ariel 3in1 pods – which clean while lifting stains – to make light work of chores like laundry; you’ll get the same brilliant results for your clothes, but have more time to focus on the things that make you feel amazing.

5. Spend more time outside

Sometimes the most successful plans are the simplest – and this is one almost everybody can get on board with, with plenty of good reasons for doing so.

Before you reach for that morning espresso, have you thought about a brisk stroll in the park first? It not only keeps you in shape, but studies have shown that not only will 20 minutes outdoors make us as alert as drinking a cup of coffee, but walking outside also prompts creativity, as well as giving us a much-needed dose of vitamin D (important for maintaining strong bones).

And that’s not all: additional research has shown that the colour green – which you’ll see plenty of in outdoor settings! – actually makes exercise feel easier, too.

Conclusion: spending time outdoors is very rarely a bad idea… so why not make more time for it?

How are you planning on starting the New Year? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

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