2017 was a tough year for a lot of folks, thanks, in part, to political turmoil, an unending slew of devastating hurricanes, relentless New York Times push alerts, and, as always, depressing celebrity deaths. For those of us who stayed a bit too glued to the news, the anxiety was palpable — and that's not even accounting for personal disasters, like breakups, job losses, and the deaths of loved ones, that tend to add fuel to a not-great 12 months.
There are lots of toxic things to remove from your life in 2018, like social media, bad friends, uncompromising romantic partners, unavailable crushes and, in my opinion, that pesky aforementioned NYT app, which serves only to send me in a frenzy each time it pings. And, of course, once you've managed to toss that baggage, you'll have room for all the exciting new things headed your way this year, like fun classes, different social circles, and, um, falconry. As the old Marie Kondo adage goes, when you get rid of old clothes (and bad habits), i.e., the stuff that no longer fits right, no longer feels good, and no longer meshes with who you are today, you give yourself permission to open up space for the stuff that fits better.
Here's what to kick:
1. Social Media
Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great ways to keep in touch with friends, catch up on the news, and check out great photography. But when you spend too much time on social media, you start picking up some bad habits, like cyber-stalking your ex, FOMOing too hard at the curated lives of others, or doing things just for the likes. Social media is also a real time-suck, and when you become too addicted to it, it's hard to pay attention to obligations like work or face-to-face relationships. 2018 is the year to limit your time online — remove the apps from your phone, and you'll start to appreciate the IRL world a bit more.
Whenever I start thinking someone else's grass is a lot greener than mine, I think of a great line in the Modest Mouse song "Missed the Boat": "Well, we all just got caught looking/at somebody else's page." It's easy, especially in the age of the aforementioned social media, to covet all the good stuff other people have going on in their lives, but even if you're not getting the same big raises and marriage proposals as some of your buddies, you've got your own thing happening. 2018 is the year we ditch caring about what everyone else is doing (except for the Kardashians, with whom I will always Keep Up).
For me, 2017 was relentlessly stressful, in part because of what was going on in Washington, and also for personal reasons that felt similarly out of my control. Anxiety makes even small problems seem hopeless, and though sometimes we can't control all the bad things, it's important to try to manage how we feel about and react to them. There are lots of ways to reduce anxiety and stress, not the least of which include practicing controlled breathing and meditation, getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night, eating healthily, exercising regularly, and knowing when to shut out the Internet. Note that mitigating stress doesn't mean you should stop caring about the outside world, but it's also okay to take a break from time to time.
4. Fast fashion
A few years ago, my apartment building caught fire and smoke-damaged most of my clothing. When I dug through what was left of my stuff to claim for insurance (seriously, get renter's insurance), I discovered I had spent thousands of dollars on cheap clothing I'd worn only a handful of times, if at all.
The garment industry is one of this planet's biggest pollutants, and though sustainable clothing often comes with too high a price tag for the average shopper, at the very least, 2018's a good time to take stock of the material items you really need, instead of filling up on unnecessary items just to fill a void. Consider, for instance, trying out a capsule wardrobe, or cleaning out your unworn retail therapy purchases Kondo-style.
5. Unavailable objects of affection
It's fun to have a crush. I still get plenty of them, at the ripe old age of 28. But when you find yourself obsessing over every unanswered text message and/or crying on the street because you can't understand why the object of your affection doesn't like you — which I also still do at the ripe old age of 28 — well, it's time to move on. In 2018, if a potential romantic partner isn't responding to you the way you want them to, kick 'em to the curb. It's fine to be bummed for a minute, but this year, don't waste your time on anyone undeserving of it.
6. Bad friends
It's tough to let go of a once-good friendship that's since taken a turn. But toxic friends can negatively impact everything from your self-confidence, to your work performance, to your other relationships. If you find yourself frequently dealing with a buddy who won't make time for you, puts you down, disrespects your or your loved ones, is possessive or controlling, or pushes your boundaries in a way that makes you uncomfortable, this is the year to cut them loose.
7. Bad romantic relationships
Letting go of a toxic romantic relationship is even more difficult than cutting ties with a toxic friend, if just because the prospect of being alone is that terrifying. But as bad as singlehood may seem, it's often lonelier to be half of an unhappy couple than it is to be a fulfilled person flying solo. If you've got a partner who puts you down, blames you for everything, manipulates you, breaks promises, dismisses you, or makes you question yourself or self-worth, 2018 is the year to call it quits.
8. Sulfates and Parabens
This may be taking things a bit literally, but sulfates and parabens are actual toxins that live in your hair products, bleaches, cosmetics and, sometimes, skin products, and they're not super great for you. Sulfates aren't necessarily poisonous, provided you aren't allergic to them, but they do dry out your hair. If you've already got dry, processed, or curly tresses, you should opt for sulfate-free shampoos that won't strip essential oils from your cuticles.
Parabens, on the other hand, have been tied to breast cancer, and though science hasn't determined that connection's exact strength, take no chances in 2018. There are more paraben/sulfate-free products on the market now than ever, so this is the year to make the switch. Your hair and skin will thank you.