Ah, January, that sweet time of new beginnings, when every year we try to make ourselves over with some insanely tall orders. Why do we keep burdening ourselves with these demanding New Year's resolutions when we know we just can't live up to? Not only are strict diets and the like unrealistic, they also tend to bring you down. Way down.
That's why for 2015, we wanted to find a more refreshing approach to the new year that's all about renewing your state of mind. Because there's nothing better than a fresh perspective and a great big confident smile to get you on the road to personal success.
So go ahead, work on a new you in 2015, but remember to strive for self-improvement with a more generous attitude. That's right, you can tear up that list of restrictive, no-fun resolutions, because we've got something that's so much better for you. To help you get started on your path to mindfulness, here is a list of self-love and wellbeing hacks that will help you hit refresh. Renew your state of mind, and you'll be able to focus on anything you want to accomplish. Time to start looking forward to 2015!
There might be no better way to get a fresh perspective on your life than to get away from it for a bit, whether it's to go to the other side of the world or just to the next state over. According to Ellen Langer, professor of psychology at Harvard University, one of the best things traveling gives you is mindfulness. She says, "What people should do, I think, when they go on these vacations and experience the feeling of engagement, the feeling of being mindfully involved in your own life, is to find a way to bring that back to their workday."
Connect With People
Ever take the time to ask the girl who takes your coffee order how her day is going? Not only can chatting with a stranger improve your mood instantly, connecting with the people around you is actually central to your mental health. Apply this little nugget properly, and next time you need some sugar (or a glass of wine!), you'll actually be able to ask your neighbor.
I'm not talking about losing weight here, but simply about feeling strong, powerful, healthy, and preferably sweaty. Try out something you can actually enjoy, like ballet, yoga, or even SoulCycle – it's just dancing on a bike! And if you're not feeling up to hitting the gym, a crazy dance party in your bedroom will do the trick in a pinch. Just think of all the good nights' sleep and the gorgeous glow you'll be rewarded with.
Treat yourself to a whole afternoon of pampering, one of the greatest forms of self-love. Apply a face mask, soak in the tub (groovy soundtrack optional), exfoliate all over, emerge totally relaxed with the softest skin ever. If you're too much of a busy bee for that level of indulgence, start with something small: a delicious-smelling moisturizer, a gentle scrub, or a fancy lip balm. After all, self-confidence is built on self-care.
This can mean praying, if you're religious, or simply sitting still and shutting out all the craziness of the world for a few minutes every day. Meditation has incredible proven benefits: it reduces loneliness, improves your memory, boosts your immune function, and so much more. If you take the time to fit this into your daily routine, you'll be rewarded with daily mental renewal. Try one of the great apps out there to help you get started (we're hooked on the adorably designed Headspace).
There are so many ways to be a do-gooder: you could donate used clothes, take part in a charity run, or walk dogs at a local animal shelter (aw!). Find a cause that's important to you and let that drive your efforts. There's an incredible sense of fulfillment and renewal that comes with volunteering. You may be surprised – helping out might just end up teaching you a thing or two about yourself.
Have you seen Ken Robinson's awe-inspiring TED talk about nurturing your creativity? Seriously, don't forget about your artistic side! Expressing yourself creatively will do a heck of a lot for your overall well-being – even science says art lowers your stress levels and increases positive emotions. And feel free to think outside the box on this one: Coordinating fashion ensembles or experimenting with nail art are totally legit forms of creative expression.
Don't worry, you don't need to pull a Cheryl Strayed and spend months on a grueling hiking trip. But spending some time in nature every once in a while will do wonders for you mind and your body. And if you need a little encouragement to head outdoors when it's 20 degrees out, a great playlist never hurts. So go get that vitamin D – just don't forget the sunscreen!
The biggest mistake most of us make when it comes to self-improvement is forcing ourselves to change immediately, when an actual healthy renewal is all about taking baby steps and making sure we give ourselves a well-deserved pat on the back (or do a celebratory dance like Carlton) when we do right by ourselves.