The new year is here and with it, a fresh chance to hit your reset button. It’s no secret though that trying to build new habits and maintain them can be difficult. If you’re keen on reducing stress in your life and want to start 2024 off on the right foot, this post has some ideas for building simplicity habits in the new year that can help bring more happiness and balance to your life.
Develop a Luxurious Morning Routine
Making your morning routine a bit luxe can be a great way to start your day off with a positive note. Luxury is entirely subjective; what feels luxurious to one may be different for the other. It also doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. Some ideas include:
- Taking your time to wake up and enjoying a slow start to the day.
- Treating yourself to a cup of gourmet coffee or tea brewed with high-quality leaves.
- Doing some light stretching or yoga to help you feel energised and relaxed.
- Spending a few minutes meditating or practising mindfulness to clear your mind before dashing out the door.
- Taking a long, leisurely shower using your favorite products.
- Getting dressed in clothes that make you feel good about yourself.
- Taking time to enjoy a nourishing breakfast, perhaps with a good book or listening to music.
- Allowing yourself a few minutes to sit and savour the start of the day before diving into your to-do list.
Overall, the key to developing a luxurious morning routine is to pick something that makes you feel relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready to take on the day. Simply taking the time to slow down and be mindful in the morning is likely the number one luxury.
Spend Time Outdoors
Spending time outdoors every day is a simple habit to get into. Our natural circadian rhythm needs that natural light every day, and there are so many benefits to getting fresh air:
- Improved mental health. Being in nature has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Increased physical activity. Spending time outdoors can provide an opportunity for more movement, be it hiking, walking, cycling, skating, running, etc.
- Better sleep. Getting some natural light during the day improves your sleep quality.
- Greater sense of belonging. You tend to feel more connected to the world around you when you regularly spend time outside.
There are many ways to spend more time outdoors every day, depending on your interests and where you live. Getting off the underground or bus one stop earlier and walking the rest of the way is just one method to get that extra dose of fresh air–and it gets your heart pumping, too.
Taking a short stroll after lunch, going for a swim after work in the summer, or riding your bike to do an errand are other simple activities you can integrate in your daily life. Even yard work and gardening are a great boon to your health and psyche.
No matter how you choose to spend time outdoors, the key is to make it a regular part of your daily routine. It really is a great way to help you feel more grounded and connected to your environment.
Take a Breather: Practise Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of bringing your attention to the present moment, without judgment. It involves paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and sensations in a non-reactive way, and can be a powerful tool for helping you feel more present and calm.
There are many ways to practise mindfulness as one of your new simplicity habits in the new year. Three of the most common I’d suggest are:
- Meditation. This can involve sitting quietly and focusing on your breath, or repeating a mantra or phrase to yourself. If you’re new to meditating, there are loads of great apps available such as Headspace, which provide guided sessions.
- Yoga or tai chi. These practices involve moving your body slowly and mindfully, helping you feel more present and focused.
- Walking meditation. This involves walking slowly (outdoors!) and paying attention to your surroundings and sensations as you walk. I’m a huge fan of this, especially since I developed a habit of counting my daily steps with an Apple Watch.
To get started with mindfulness, you might try setting aside a few minutes each day to focus on your breathing or just pay attention to your surroundings. You can also try incorporating mindfulness into mundane daily activities, such as by paying attention to how you feel as you wash your hands or walk to work.
The key is to be present and non-judgmental, and to let go of the distractions and thoughts that can pull you out of the moment. Try keeping your phone in your pocket, too! With practise, mindfulness is a simple method that can help you feel more calm. It can also be an invaluable tool for managing stress and improving your overall well-being.
Simplify Your Surroundings
A cluttered home can make us feel down, or even anxious. Decluttering your living space and getting rid of items that you no longer use or need can fuel a greater sense of peace and clarity at home. It simply gives us a feeling of being in control.
People who always appear to have a perfect home know this. They’re not magicians. They’ve simply built routines and cultivated tidy habits over time.
Organising your space in a way that makes it easier for you to find what you need also leaves you feeling less frazzled. Plus it saves time knowing where things are when you need them! Why not make daily decluttering bursts one of your new simplicity habits in the new year?
Setting boundaries is an important part of self-care and can be a valuable simplicity habit to adopt. Boundaries are the limits we set for ourselves and others that help us feel safe and in control of our lives. These might include:
- Emotional boundaries, or the limits you set around your emotions and how much you are willing to share with others. For example, you might set a boundary around how much you are willing to open up to colleagues about your personal life.
- Time boundaries in terms of how much time you are willing to commit to others or to certain activities. Does your colleague repeatedly come to you for help? Try pointing him to a help doc next time so that you can stay focused on your own work.
- Energy boundaries, or how much energy you’re willing to invest in others or in certain activities. If your neighbour keeps using you as a soundboard to vent about life and you find it draining, make yourself less available.
To set boundaries, you need to be clear about what’s important to you and what you’re willing to commit to. Think about your values and priorities, and let these guide your decisions about how much time, energy, or emotional investment you are willing to give to others or to certain activities.
Setting boundaries can be challenging, especially if you are used to putting others’ needs before your own. But upholding healthy boundaries is a good habit to build if you’re set on living more simply and intentionally.
One of the easiest simplicity habits you can start building in the new year is to plan ahead. All you need to do this are a few minutes each day. Take this time to review any goals and priorities, and plan the following day accordingly. A quarter of an hour on Sunday nights to plan out your coming week is also time well spent. Come Monday morning, you’ll feel more organised and less stressed.
Planning ahead puts you in the driver’s seat. You become acutely aware of how you want to spend your time – and with whom or what. Plus, you’ll lock in all those non-negotiable events you need to schedule everything else around.
You can plan ahead using a to-do list app on your phone, with pen and paper, in a fancy planner or however you like. Whichever way you do it, planning ahead keeps you on track, and it can make it easier to manage your time. That in turn makes life simpler.
Find Ways to Simplify Tasks
Look for ways to streamline your daily routines and tasks, such as using lists or creating systems to help you stay organised. Streamlining tasks simplifies life by making it easier to get things done and reducing the time and effort needed for specific tasks. When you streamline your tasks, you’re essentially looking for ways to make them more efficient and easier to complete.
There are many household tasks that can be hacked to make your life easier, such as:
- Creating a system for organising bills and paperwork, like setting aside a designated place to store them or going paperless with a digital file management system.
- Developing a cleaning schedule or checklist to help you stay on top of household chores.
- Meal planning and grocery shopping in advance to reduce the time you spend cooking and grocery shopping throughout the week.
- Setting up a system for organising your closet or other storage areas to make it easier to find what you need.
- Automating tasks such as paying bills or setting reminders for appointments.
Be Present with Others
When you’re with others, try to be fully present and focused on the conversation or activity. You’ll feel more connected and engaged with the people around you, and this makes your relationships actually feel more meaningful and rewarding.
How do you really do this, though? I’m inclined to say the number one hurdle nowadays is that little device we’re all tethered to. It’s hard having a conversation and it’s even harder listening to someone when you’re looking at your phone every two seconds! Put it away and watch how the dynamics of your entire interaction magically change for the better.
Adopt Some New Simplicity Habits in the New Year!
Building habits of simplicity can have many benefits for the entire year to come. With these little hacks you’ll feel more grounded, focused, and in control of your time and energy. By incorporating simple practices like meditation or decluttering in your daily routine, you can create a sense of clarity to feel more balanced and grounded.
These habits ultimately also help you feel more connected to yourself and others, and can facilitate a heightened sense of meaning and purpose in your daily life.