It’s a new year, a fresh start, and the close of the Christmas season (only 5 of the 12 days left!). Traditionally, January is the start-over month, and thirty-one days of trying to embrace new habits (or get back to old ones). Well, we’re here to help you set the tone for your 2024 with some happiness habits for the new year. Start these immediately, or make a plan to slowly integrate your favorite happiness habits throughout the year.
Learn a New Skill
There’s nothing like the feeling of accomplishment. Though often preceded by a period of frustration and learning curves, accomplishment can lift your spirit and encourage you to learn more. So set aside time each day, once a week, or once a month to learn something new, try a new skill, or adopt (or perfect) a hobby. Schedule out a time to work on something, sign up for a class, or buy a book that will help you learn something new like canning, gardening, sewing, writing, or even HTML. Whatever it is, set aside time this year to grow your skill set.
Make Time for Tea
Even if you’re more of a coffee person, taking a moment in the afternoon for some tea, quiet time, reflections, prayer, and/or journaling can completely transform your day. This step in the direction of slow living helps recenter your day, offers children a chance for some quiet time too, and gives you the opportunity to collect yourself (and maybe even reduce overwhelm). Additionally, there are lots of teas that have medicinal benefits, so adding in a daily tea time will help you focus on your bodily as well as your mental and spiritual health!
This might be a hard sell, but prioritizing some sort of movement, every day or at least three times a week, can make a huge difference in your mental and physical health. You don’t have to be a bodybuilder or gym-rat – any amount of movement will do! Simply going for a daily walk, doing daily stretches every morning, taking up a sport like tennis, or following a 30-day fitness challenge (there are sooo many on YouTube that are FREE!) can treat your body to some TLC and help guard against illness and ward off depression and anxiety.
Though journaling doesn’t solve everything, it is definitely helpful (at least for some) to put pen to paper and brain-dump. This can provide clarity, help problem solve, provide a place to vent, and keep you organized. Regular journaling – even just writing down your prayers – is another great way to reorient yourself in your day, focus on gratitude, and keep your thoughts from overcrowding and overwhelming you. Plus, it’s a great quiet-time activity.
Does this need an explanation? Of course, strengthening your relationship with God is going to lead to more happiness. Seek Him, and you will find peace, love, and wholeness. Set up a regular prayer schedule, maybe designate a section of your house where you always sit to pray, or make it a family affair and set aside time to gather with your family for prayer time.
Some of us live in parts of the country with precious, limited sunny weather, while others can’t get away from the sun long enough to know what seasonal depression is. No matter your local climate, going outside is just good for the soul. Reconnect with nature, soak up whatever sun available, even embrace the drizzle, clouds, and snow. We are part of the natural world, and spending time in God’s creation can only ever be beneficial. Put your face to the sun, dig your toes into the ground, play, walk, garden, hang clothes out, picnic, or simply sit and take in deep breaths of fresh air.
Whether you’re hosting or going as a guest, gathering with family and friends imbues us with a sense of gratitude, giving, joy, contentment, and community. Make gathering a part of your 2024 by hosting regular Sunday dinners, scheduling monthly dates with your spouse, reaching out to your friends and forming a mom group or just meeting up occasionally for lunch. Gathering takes many forms, but it’s important to just do it. Nothing has to be perfect, it’s just important to come together and know you’re not alone in this crazy world!
Shut off the phone! Go outside! Stop engaging with companies and people who do not have your best interest at heart! Disconnect from the things in your life that drag you down and overwhelm you. Now, that’s not to say we shouldn’t do things that are necessary – no matter how much they bum us out – but it is to say, cut out the unnecessary stressors, and build a good habit of stepping away and prioritizing the good and fulfilling.
Good food does a world of good. Use 2024 to refocus on nutrient-dense foods, locally grown produce, and locally-raised meats. Cook meals at home (maybe one of your new skills!) and cut out the seed oils, chemical-laden foods, and junk that doesn’t serve your body (and therefore doesn’t serve your mind). Plus, a good meal is extra complete when shared with good people, so you can combine it with gathering!
Set a Schedule (and Stick To It)
Probably one of the hardest things to do is create a balanced, regular schedule and stick to it. But, honestly, it’ll make a difference. Allowing for some variance, a set schedule introduces stability to your life, ensures you get good sleep, accomplishes everything you need to accomplish, and opens the door for being able to balance the ratio of play and work in your life. Grab a daily planner, set some daily goals (i.e. go to bed by 9pm, make and eat lunch, leave work promptly at 5, etc.), and see how the piece of mind and predictability add ease into your life.
Habits are hard to establish in life, but they can give us purpose, fill our cups, and create community in ways that we don’t even realize until we just start! Here at AmericanMom, we hope you all have moments for yourselves, peace of mind, deep connection to God, and plenty of time to indulge in beautiful days outside. Happy New Year!