Science-Backed Resolutions to Bring More Joy to Your Year

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Get your zzzz’s

I’m a firm believer that you can’t live well if you haven’t slept well. Sleep makes everything better. Ate too much? Take a nap! Bad day? Sleep it off! Anything can be made better with a good rest. Sleep improves mood, boosts help, helps with alertness and memory, and may even help regulate a healthy weight. That’s why sleep should be at the top your priority list of the New Year – it affects every other aspect of life. To get some more zzzz’s in your life, adopt some of these easy resolutions:

  • Go to sleep earlier. It’s time to #BringBackBedtime to get the needed 7-8 hours a night. Set up a relaxing bedtime routine to ease into bed. Every night, I do skincare or take a shower, brush my teeth, and forego tech to read. If you are restless, try using a magnesium supplement to help you relax – I swear by these ones from Amazon to get 8 hours a night.
  • Don’t sleep with your phone. I swear, I go to sleep so much easier without my phone nearby. Using your phone at night provides so much mental stimulation, and the blue light can make it harder to fall asleep. To remove temptation to scroll at midnight, leave your phone downstairs to charge.
  • Take a nap. Do not doubt the power of naps. Even a short rest can give you health benefits – a true power nap is 20-26 minutes – and can boost your mood for the rest of the day.
  • Cultivate a morning routine. Sleep easier, wake easier. Wake earlier, sleep earlier. And the best way I’ve found to get on a regular sleep schedule is to cultivate consistent, enjoyable routines. If you have trouble waking up, start your day with something you look forward to, like reading for fun, your favorite breakfast, or a podcast while you get ready. Another great way to make waking up easier is by harnessing the power of the sun (or faking it) to wake you up. This alarm clock mimics natural sunlight to help you wake up naturally and without loud ringing.
  • Make your room an oasis. Our room is always cool, quiet, and cozy – it makes going to sleep so much more enjoyable. Some of my favorite things to make a bedroom feel like a retreat? I love our mattress (which is under $200 on Amazon! – insane, I know), and these silk pillowcases. We also use blackout curtains to keep it nice and dark, and run a humidifier/diffuser which adds moisture to the air and doubles as a white noise machine.

Cultivate relationships

  • Get together with friends. Relationships are one of the best predictors of life satisfaction, happiness, and longevity. Close friendships, varied connections, and frequent contact all boost well-being. And who doesn’t love a party?
    A few years back, I was in a major depression. I set one of my yearly goals to make new friends and have at least one get together a month. It helped me so much to feel brighter and happier, and really deepened my friendships by being vulnerable and extending the invites.
  • Learn about your family history. Family history can deepen connection, cultivate compassion for others, and even boost self-esteem. Learning about family history doesn’t have to be intimidating: even starting with your parents names and birthdays can help you connect other branches on your family tree. I love using Family Search to research and compile family history: it’s free to use and super intuitive.
  • Spend money on experiences, not things. Minimalism is making a comeback, and for good reason. Most people are totally inundated with things hat don’t really bring joy. Spending money on experiences with friends and family will reap much more happiness than things.
A snapshot from a Hygge-themed girls night we had this winter. It was the perfect, cozy night with friends!

Be Present

  • Unsubscribe. We are all totally swamped with email newsletters, Instagram feeds, news, and Facebook posts. Which is why it’s important to intentionally unsubscribe from updates that don’t serve you. Instagram accounts that don’t inspire you, emails that make you want to mindlessly buy things, or news outlets that make you feel awful.
    You can use services like the unroll.me app or just set aside half an hour one morning to go through and ruthlessly unsubscribe. You will feel so much lighter and happier – it’s like purging a digital closet.
  • Just say no. Unsubscribing isn’t just digital: learning to say ‘no’ and remove obligations and expectations is so freeing.
  • Unplug once a week. To be really present, try setting aside a day or even a few hours to be tech-free. On Sunday, we go to church, have a family dinner, and refrain from shopping or working. I’ve gotten a little off-track, but this year, I’d like to recommit to staying off of social media on Sunday. Being away from the buzz of technology is so reinvigorating.
  • Infuse more color into your everyday. I was so inspired by my friend Emma’s home that I made an instant goal to infuse more color and pattern into my wardrobe and decor. She owns an Impeccable Nest Design with her equally fabulous mother, and their designs are whimsical, decadent, and fun – their whole home brought a smile to my face and I found myself giggling at every turn from pure joy.
    It made me think – how often to I grin when I look in my bedroom? My home is calm and serene and organized – but it doesn’t always spark joy. With a few simple tweaks of color and pattern, you can live in a much happier space. Still on the fence? Try reading Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness. I’ll bet you $5 it changes your mind.
  • Stop and smell the roses (or citrus). Just like color can influence mood, smell can, too. Intentionally indulging in bright, cheery smells is a totally guilt-free way to boost happiness. Picking a new signature perfume for the year or just being more aware of the wonderful smells of the world will bring a little extra joy everyday.
A little peek into my friend Emma’s home – I’m stealing a little bit of this happiness-inducing style for my own house.

Infuse a little happy everyday

  • Walk outside. Americans spend about 87% of their time indoors, and another 6% in vehicles, meaning, on average, we only spend 7% outside. That’s less than 2 hours outside a day – and this lack of time outdoors can really dampen your mood. Sunlight helps to regulate your circadian rhythm, boost mood, increases energy and can help you to be more productive at work. Even a short walk outside during lunch or in the morning can add disproportionate happiness to your life.
  • Write a one-line-a-day journal. If journaling has been on your list of goals for years (like mine!) but the idea of catching up or writing a ton intimidates you (like me!) then a one-line-a-day journal can reap the same benefits without the time commitment. You can buy pre-formatted one-line journals or create your own.
  • Make your commute sacred. Commuting to work or school can be super draining, but making it a pleasant part of your day will add back a jolt of happiness to your life. Streaming a favorite podcast (to stay on the Happiness train, I suggest ‘The Happier Podcast’ by Gretchen Rubin or ’10 Percent Happier’ with Dan Harris) can be a great way to get your creativity flowing and feel excited for the day. If you’re really on that commute grind, try an essential oil diffuser for your car. (Remember, stop and smell the citrus.)

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