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Simple ways to start the New Year fresh

Simple ways to start the New Year fresh

Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most – Jack Kornfield

It’s that time of the year again when most of us look to begin the New Year with a clean slate and a long list of resolutions we hope to keep (but rarely do).  Or perhaps you skip the resolutions and just take each day as it comes.  Whatever way you approach the New Year, it’s nice to start it focused and feeling fresh, ready for what it may bring.  We want you to have a great year, so here’s a few ideas to clean your physical and mental slate and start anew.

Clear out the clutter

This is the biggie.  It’s amazing how much “stuff” we accumulate over time, and no time like the present to declutter.  It makes it so much easier to re-focus with a clean and organised space.  Start with Christmas decorations – don’t leave it too long or it will feel like a major chore.  Put things back in their boxes bit by bit, over a few days, ideally before the year’s end.

Next, commit to decluttering the rest of the house, but do it in steps that make sense to you.  Maybe you like to work a room at a time, so tackle a bedroom on day one, bathroom on day two and so on.  Or you may prefer a job at a time, eg clean out the wardrobe one day, go through bookshelves the next.  Pick the method that suits and discard or donate all the things you no longer use.  If you find it difficult to let go, get help in the form of an objective friend!  When you’re done, try and keep things under control by implementing the one-in, one-out policy.  For every new item you bring home, dispose of an old one.

Throw out expired food and meds

If the contents of your medicine cabinet pre-date Justin Beiber, it’s really time you did something about it.  Check those dates and take all expired medicines to your nearest pharmacy for disposal.  The kitchen pantry could probably do with a check too.  You’re never going to eat those preserved lemons you bought in 2007 (true story).

Sell things you don’t need

Hopefully your decluttering efforts resulted in a whole pile of stuff which you are now wondering what to do with.  Depending on your energy levels, you could do one of three things: Sell all those CDs, DVDs and books on eBay or Gumtree.  Less effort, and with a bonus feel-good factor is the option to donate.  Bag it or box it and off to the Salvos.  Or for the lazy but fast option, bin it all.

Reflect on last year

This one’s going to take a bit of thought on your part.  Grab a notebook, find a comfy spot (may we cheekily suggest your bed, especially if it’s got good sheets on it?) and get to thinking.  What kinds of things you did last year that you’d like to do better?  Have you achieved all you’ve wanted?  What would you like to change?  Do you have some relationships that you need to reassess and work on? If you had a difficult year, think about what you can do to make next year better.  Perhaps you need to be gentler and less demanding of yourself and find small ways to make things right again.  Or if last year was great, think about what you did to make it so, and build on it.

Make resolutions that will stick

A New Year comes and full of enthusiasm, you write a long list of resolutions only to fail like a cheap umbrella before the week is out.  Why?  Maybe you tried to do too much.  Make this year different and resolve to do less. The key is to pick a couple of things you really want to work on that you identified while reflecting on the previous year.  Then make your resolutions in terms of goals you want to achieve and make sure they are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.  Break them down into short term and long term milestones to help you ride out the times when your willpower is weaker than a wet noodle.

Don’t make your goals too audacious.  If you’ve spent the last year perfecting the imprint of your buttocks on the couch, maybe it’s too soon to be signing up for marathons.  You’ll do much better if you start small.  Commit to something manageable like taking a walk around the block or a local park two or three times a week.  Find a routine that works for you and stick to it.

Resolve to get better sleep

Even if you resolve nothing else, make getting a quality sleep your priority.  It’s the one thing that has a huge effect on your life – yes, even your weight!  It’s hard to feel your best when you are constantly exhausted.  Sleep is fundamental to good health, it affects your performance and your mood.  Lack of sleep gives host to many potential problems like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, plus it inhibits clear thinking and increases the chances of having an accident.  And all this can be improved with something as simple as getting more sleep.  Most people need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep, and a very few function well on less.  You know your body best so figure out what is the right amount for you, and make sure you get it.

Aside from the number of hours you sleep, here are a couple of other things you can do to make snoozing better.  Start with getting a regular bedtime routine going.  Try and go to sleep and wake at the same times every day, even on weekends.  Getting some exercise in helps you to fall asleep easier as long as it’s done in the late afternoon and not just before bedtime.  Eating well is great for sleep, stick to foods high in protein and vitamins, and avoid high fat, processed carbs and spicy food, especially close to bedtime.  It goes without saying to avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed.  Prepare for sleep by relaxing your mind, whether by reading a book or doing relaxation exercises.  Keep away from screens as the blue light disturbs your sleep patterns and circadian rhythms.

Finally, make your bed as comfy as possible!  Replace your mattress if it’s more than about 10 years old and don’t forget to update your bedding and pillows.  Investing in comfortable, breathable luxury sheets can go a long way to improving your sleep.  And when it comes to settling into bed, can anything beat the clean smell and crisp feel of freshly washed sheets?  Wash yours, it's hard to have a bad sleep on fresh cotton sheets.

Make your bed every morning

It barely takes a minute but the small achievement is well worth your time.  It’s the first task of the day, and you can tick it as done.  This is such a simple but powerful thing to do to set a positive tone for the remainder of your day.  As Admiral William H. McRaven famously said, “if you want to change the world, start with making your bed”.