New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be extravagant. You don’t have to swear to yourself you’re going to lose 100 pounds, or that you’re going to hit the gym every single day. You don’t have to promise yourself that you’ll finally start that company you’ve been putting on hold, or that THIS year, you’ll cook every meal yourself.
No — they can be small changes of habit, like cutting back on coffee, planning to take a weekend off every month, or even abstract — like laughing more, or indulging in more sensory experiences.
If you've experienced a lot of stress lately, there are even several things you can do to put a stress-free spin on your lifestyle.
Here are 10 New Year's resolution ideas to help you sleep better, feel calmer and live a healthier life.
Do you feel stressed when you don’t know what’s next on your schedule? According to psychologist Audrey Sherman, a messy life can lead to a messy mental state. Dr. Sherman says there’s a link between disorganization and depression and anxiety.
Decluttering can be a great way to feel more in control of your schedule and your to-do list. If you don’t know where to start, you can begin with the small stuff like your purse or work bag. From there, move to the bigger items, such as your cluttered pantry or messy basement.
You can even take your new organization skills to your daily schedule by using a planner. If you’re tech-savvy, you can try a planning app for your phone. Yet, we have to admit — there’s something to the old-fashioned method of jotting down dates and times in regular ol’ paper planner.
Try a (Fun) New Exercise Routine
Of course, getting more exercise isn’t exactly a novel idea when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. This year, though, you can really de-stress by trying something totally new. Exercise doesn’t have to be boring — and you’re much more likely to actually do it if you pick an activity that keeps your interest. And no — you don’t have to go to extremes.
If you’re tired of jogging or the typical exercise class at the gym, check online or ask friends for fun exercise options in your area. Ideas for unorthodox exercise routines include barre classes, pole dancing workouts and even yoga before bed.
Learn the Power of No
Many people feel bad saying no, whether it’s at work, at a PTA meeting or the prep before a family gathering. However, constantly taking on tasks and activities can leave you overextended and seriously stressed.
It might be tough to say no at first, but the Mayo Clinic has some excellent tips for getting started. In short, be brief and respectful. It’s also important to be honest. While you might feel inclined to make up an elaborate excuse to get out of a task, be straightforward about why you can’t accept an obligation. It might be difficult to say no at first, but practice really does make perfect.
It turns out that laugher really can be powerful medicine. According to Very Well Mind, studies show that children laugh as much as 400 times a day, but adults only laugh around 15 times daily. Experts say that laughter has a number of benefits, including stress relief and lower anxiety levels. Laughing can even help strengthen your core and improve your heart health.
You can add more laughs to your day by spending time with friends and family. Some people also enjoy seeing a comedian or watching a funny movie.
Do an Early Spring Cleaning
Spring cleaning is by definition something most people tend to do in the spring. However, the winter months can be a great time to clear out some clutter. When the weather is chilly, put on some fun music and dig into that old pile of books or the outdated summer clothes you’ve been meaning to donate.
As a bonus, by tackling your spring cleaning early, you’ll be totally free for outdoor activities when the weather warms up.
Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is an easy and effective technique that has been shown to reduce stress, slow the heart rate and lower anxiety. According to WebMD, it can even help reduce headaches and ease digestive issues.
To do it, simply flex one muscle group at a time. Many people find it easiest to lie prone and then start from the head or the feet, working their way up or down the body. Concentrate on flexing each muscle group, holding tightly for a few seconds and then slowly relaxing.
Plan a Mini Getaway
Most people take their vacations in the summer. This year, why not do something a little different and plan a getaway around the New Year? The key is to keep your vacation manageable and fun. Harvard researchers have found that low-stress vacations make people feel more energized and relaxed when they return to work.
If your budget is tight, or you prefer to save the bulk of your vacation dollars for a big summer getaway, you can stick with a weekend trip or even a staycation in your own backyard.
Cut Back on Caffeine
Caffeine can be a great pick-me-up, but it’s important to keep your coffee habits within moderation. Because it’s a stimulant, too much caffeine can leave you feeling jittery and stressed. Tips for cutting back on coffee include swapping a cup of joe for green tea and making sure you fill up on water whenever possible.
Prep Meals for the Week Ahead
Do you often find yourself reaching for fast food after a long day of work or household chores? Or maybe you throw together a last-minute meal that’s unsatisfying and not all that healthy?
Planning your meals in advance can help you stick to a healthier diet, save money and feel less stressed during the week. Many people like to plan their meals on a Saturday or Sunday, when they can squeeze in a grocery run to purchase ingredients. Prepare as much as you can ahead of time and then store ingredients or portions in the fridge or freezer until you need them.
Try a Weighted Blanket
Here’s a tip you’ll definitely want to add to your list of New Year’s resolution ideas.
One-third of all Americans have some form of insomnia. Whether it’s an occasional sleepless night or a chronic problem, too little sleep has been linked to a number of health problems, including obesity, diabetes and stress.
If you aren’t getting enough sleep, or your sleep quality is poor, a weighted blanket may be your ticket to more restful, restorative nights. Scientific research shows that weighted blanket therapy has a number of benefits, including reduced anxiety, less stress and longer stretches of sleep.
Made with about 10 percent of the user’s body weight, weighted blankets recreate the warm, gentle feeling of a good hug. Talk about a New Year’s resolution that’s easy to keep!
SensaCalm Weighted Blankets
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Disclaimer: The content on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider before undertaking any type of therapy or treatment.