5 Things to Start Doing in the New Year

New Year’s resolutions usually involve stopping things like eating, drinking and spending too much – and so on. You know the drill. However, according to U.S. News & World Report, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week in February. Why not switch things up this year? Instead of setting yourself up for disappointment by attempting to abolish negative behavior, why not start doing some positive things? You’ll improve your quality of life and maybe even help the world. Here are few ideas to kick things off.

Start Recycling

This is so easy and so doable. All you have to do is get an extra trash can and throw your plastic and aluminum cans into it. Then look up where your local recycling drop-off point is and enter it into your GPS. Put it on your to do list, swing by on the way to or from the grocery store and boom, you’re done.

Start Taking Regular Tech Fasts

You can start with social media. According to a study funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), people who used social media the most were about 2.7 times more likely to be depressed than participants who used social media the least. Not taking your phone to the dinner table and limiting the amount of television you watch are good ideas. You can clear your headspace of the drama and pain that’s going on in the world and focus on your loved ones and most important, your own mental, spiritual and emotional health.

Start Learning a New Language

In addition to expanding your world perspective and understanding another culture, there are other incredible benefits of learning a new language. These include improving decision-making skills, memory and multitasking skills, as well as increasing your attention span and cultural sensitivity.

Start Laughing More

In addition to providing instant joy and changing your mood, laughter also has some very real health benefits. First, it boosts the immune system, decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, which improve your resistance to disease. Second, it triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals that provide an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain. Third, laughter protects the heart, improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against having a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems. Finally, laughter burns calories, diffuses anger and, according to a study in Norway, just might help you live longer. Clearly, laughter is the best medicine.

Start Focusing on What You Have

In a world dominated by social media, celebrity worship and materialism, it’s easy to zero in on what you don’t have and focus on scarcity. Instead, start noticing, appreciating and celebrating what’s currently in your life. If you need to, make a gratitude list and review it when that ache of lacking rears its ugly head. Your spirit will be refreshed and you just might realize that you have more than enough.

These are just a few of the many good things you can start doing in 2019. Keep your ears and eyes open for other opportunities to build on the positive and cherish the life you’ve been given.








6 Ways to Avoid the Holiday Blues

Despite the never-ending flurry of merry salutations, the holidays can be emotionally challenging — if not downright depressing. Here are a few practical ways to take care of yourself during this time of year.

Set a Budget. When you’re out shopping, it’s so easy to cave to “spending sprawl” – irresistible gifts that seem to call your name, obliterating any control you thought you had before you left the house. Truth is, you can’t buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts. Instead, you might want to make something for someone (cookies or a homemade ornament), organize a gift exchange and set a spending limit, or donate to a charity in a person’s name. Another way to save money and infuse your gifts with meaning is to barter. For example, you might offer to weed someone’s garden in exchange for organizing your pantry. Design a website in exchange for painting your house. The list goes on and on. This way, you strip the season of its suck-your-wallet-dry tendency and replace it with the true meaning of the season, which is not about things at all.

Learn to Say No. Saying yes to a holiday party or event when you really want to say no can breed resentment, which is never a good thing. Give yourself permission to decline invitations. Your friends will understand. Besides, a little alone time during the holidays might help you enjoy the things you do participate in that much more.

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone. If you find yourself longing for companionship or are in a new city where you don’t know anyone, select some holiday events in your neighborhood or city, take a deep breath and show up. Chances are, you’ll meet others who might be in the same situation and make some new friends.

Carve Out A Bit of “Me” Time. December is month that is notoriously busy, but you don’t have to be. Do something that celebrates you: get a massage or facial, read a book that’s been on your list, put on your favorite music and enjoy a cup of tea or take a walk and look at the stars. You’ll feel refreshed and centered.

Move Your Body. If you’re an exerciser, don’t abandon your routine. Keep up the good work. Getting your heart rate up and sweating not only helps get rid of cortisol, the stress hormone, it also triggers the release of endorphins – neurotransmitters that interact with your opiate receptors in the brain to generate positive feelings. If you’re not an exerciser, don’t worry. A simple 20-minute walk can help reduce cortisol and alleviate anxiety. But that’s not all. Walking can also help reduce your risk of heart disease and strengthen your bones, among many other health benefits.

Acknowledge Your Feelings. If you’ve lost a loved one or recently gone through a divorce or break up, accept that feeling sad and lonely is normal. It’s okay to cry, get angry and grieve. As difficult as these emotions may be, getting them out might be the best remedy for healing. If you feel you need a little extra help, you can always try light therapy. Like exercise, these light therapy devices release endorphins by emitting UV-free light. Your mood and sleep pattern will improve, and best of all, they’re affordable. Varilux sells them starting at $40. However, if you feel that you’re really spiraling downward, pick up the phone and call a friend, a relative or a professional. Just being able to release what you’re feeling and hearing someone’s voice can be comforting and dilute what you thought was an impending disaster.

Remember: Keep your chin up. The holidays are temporary and will be over before you know it. Soon you’ll be into a new year with a fresh start.