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Jan 03 2017
by Lauren Wigren

5 Little Ways to Start the New Year Off Right

By Lauren Wigren - Jan 03 2017

2017 is finally here and I'm sure I'm not the only one whose New Year's resolution list fails to stray from previous years'. Of course we all strive to eat healthier, exercise more, study harder and be kinder, but why is it that we inevitably give up on our goals by the end of January? Perhaps this winter, rather than overwhelm ourselves with major lifestyle changes, we can start smaller and change the little things in our lives for a more positive 2017. The following are just five examples of small gestures and adjustments that may make you feel happier and healthier this winter.

1. Don't eat dessert every night.

This may seem like asking a lot, I know, but think about it: December is a month filled with festivities (and sweets). Speaking for myself, loading up on cookies, candies and cakes at parties and family gatherings becomes second nature every year around the holidays. January, however, is just an ordinary month without many special occasions, so take advantage of a house/dorm without cabinets and containers filled with goodies. Find something to do after lunch/dinner that doesn't involve eating more, and resist the urge to bake/shop for more treats. Obviously you can still indulge some days, but try to break those holiday habits of indulgence. Shedding the holiday weight will make you look and feel great.

2. Smile More.

Even when you're stressed out or upset, there are lots of reasons to smile (even while some may seem small and insignificant). Your best friend made you laugh? You got good grades last semester? You just binged a really cool show on Netflix? Whatever the reason may be, learning to look for the positives in life and in the world will make you a happier person overall.

3. Distance yourself from negative people.

This isn't to say you shouldn't be kind or civil towards people who don't contribute positively to your life; however, focusing too much on those who drag you down is a waste of energy and lowers your self-esteem and self-respect. Nobody deserves to feel unappreciated, taken advantage of or ridiculed, and that includes you. Make 2017 the year to focus your energy on true friends.

4.  Don't underestimate random acts of kindness.

You don't have to pay for everybody's orders in a Starbucks line to make someone's day. Say "hi" to people you know when you pass by them on your way to class or run into them somewhere, randomly compliment people if they make you smile or let the lady behind you who's in a rush cut you in line. The world would be a much better place if more people took a little time out of their day to be kind to others. Who knows? Your random act of kindness may inspire others to follow your lead.

5. Focus on the kind of exercise you like.

Don't sign up for a gym membership if you aren't going to use it. There are plenty of ways to exercise without feeling as though you're wasting time or money. If you like going for walks, make an effort to walk more often. If you like stretching or doing push-ups and sit ups, you can do that from the comfort of your home. Like winter sports? Plan a ski-trip with your friends, go snow-shoeing or ice-skating. You'll find there are plenty of ways to get active that are manageable and even fun.

Sometimes the goals we set for ourselves are too big and too vague. Focus on how you plan to achieve your goals by taking it one day at a time. Small changes in your daily behavior still affect your life in a positive way even if you feel you aren't doing enough. The important thing is to be happy, and it doesn't matter how much or how little you do to achieve happiness as long as you do so.

Lead Image Credit: Lutz Blohm via Flickr Creative Commons

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Lauren Wigren - Simmons College

Simmons College 2020! Majoring in Elementary Education and History. Loves writing, acting, singing, working with kids, and my dog.

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