7 New Year’s Rituals to Refresh Your Spirit

January 1st is the day that typically represents a fresh start to life. As people all around the world gear up to toss their old bad habits aside and replace them with their best and most ambitious New Year’s resolutions, their hopes and dreams of a better year and a more improved self usually serve as a big part of their motivation.

Related: 10 New Year’s Resolutions That Can Help Animals

Many people do end up making their New Year’s resolutions stick with them throughout the year, but we all know that most people don’t. Making drastic changes to your habits on the very first day of the New Year might sound like a good way start anew, but the mind and body are very smart, and they’ll do their best to bring you back to your set point (aka the old “bad” habits that felt safe and comfortable) as you continue to push against your own resistance until you simply can’t anymore.

Instead of aiming to do a complete 180 on your lifestyle habits and goals this January 1st, try a gentler approach to making meaningful changes that actually stick for more than a few weeks or months. You can purify and detox your mind and body by using the following New Year’s rituals so you have a clearer sense of what it is you really want to accomplish in 2017.

1. Drink plenty of water.

Chances are you spent the last couple of weeks (or perhaps longer) indulging in holiday foods, desserts and alcoholic beverages that were full of fat, sugar and all sorts of other not-so-healthy ingredients. And for that, water is the magic potion to restoring balance. Even if you did a good job with portions and maintaining a healthy diet for the majority of the holiday season, it never hurts to drink more water.

According to WebMD, drinking water helps the kidneys and the digestive system — just a couple parts of the body that might need to be restored back to a more balanced state after lots of eating and drinking. Start your day on New Year’s with 16 ounces of water first thing in the morning to help bring your physical body back to a healthy normal, and add some freshly squeezed lemon juice to it if you like.

2. Take the full New Year’s Day to unplug from technology.

Besides maybe a few personal calls you might make to close friends or relatives to wish them a Happy New Year, avoid going online or tuning in to those New Year’s TV specials. If you want to be intentional about the year ahead, you’ll want to cleanse your mind by taking a break from all sources of distraction.

If other members of your household continue to use technology while you’re on your 24-hour tech detox, let them know about it and set some boundaries so you won’t get sucked back in. Spend your day doing activities that allow you to be alone with yourself or in a distraction-free environment with others.

3. Do some relaxing breathing exercises to calm and center yourself.

Deep breathing is the simplest and most effective way to calm your mind and body. You don’t have to do anything fancy — just focus on inhaling fully through your nose for about 7 seconds and out through your mouth for about 8 seconds while one hand is placed on your chest and the other is placed on your abdomen.

When you inhale, your abdomen should rise further than your chest, and when you exhale, all the air should be expelled as your abdominal muscles relax. Deep breathing like this will help bring you back to the present, relieving any lingering stress from the holidays or anxiety about the year ahead.

Related: 4 Breathing Exercises for Stress Relief

4. Go for a nature walk if the weather allows it.

If it’s not cold enough to get frostbite or snowing enough to cause whiteout conditions, take New Year’s Day as an opportunity to get out and connect with nature in a park, on a trail, or anywhere else that gets you away from urban life. Even though it’s winter, a nice long walk among the bare trees and snow can help ground your spirit as you contemplate what it is you need to do for the upcoming year.

Remember to plan ahead so you don’t get distracted by being too cold or struggling to trudge through the snow. Here’s how to properly prepare yourself to walk in cold, snowy weather.

5. Set aside at least 20 minutes to meditate in silence on your thoughts and emotions.

Nature walking can be considered an active form of meditation, but you can take your inward reflection even further by sitting quietly in a room where you won’t be interrupted, closing your eyes and allowing your thoughts and emotions to reveal themselves. Start by focusing on your breath, and then without trying to control anything, notice what starts popping up in your head or what you start feeling in your body.

Getting clear on the signals your body is trying to tell you — even the ones that feel awful — is critical if you want to accelerate your growth. As you meditate, maintain your awareness so that you just observe the thoughts and emotions as they occur rather than getting completely pulled into them. Here are 5 ways to meditate if meditation seems kind of weird and scary to you.

6. Do some journaling immediately after meditating.

One of the best times to write in a journal is when you’re highly aware of what’s happening in your mind and body, which is why it’s so great to journal after meditating. Pull out a notepad and a pen right after meditating and do a mind dump of all the thoughts and feelings that were revealed to you.

Putting it on paper will help you get even clearer about some of the fuzzy thoughts and questionable feelings you experienced. It will also help you interpret their meanings.

7. Make a rough plan for the next 31 days.

After doing all or most the of the above activities to help cleanse your mind and body, you’ll be ready to start creating an action plan for the future. With your goals in mind, try coming up with three simple habits or action steps you can take every day that won’t seem like a total chore or struggle to complete.

Mini habits are often a good way to create lasting change, because we don’t resist them as much as big habit changes and we have the opportunity to build upon them. Commit to it for the month of January, reflect on your progress at the end of the month, and then try building upon it for February.

You may wish to do the above seven steps on the first day of  ever new month this year just as a mini refresher. That will certainly put you ahead of the people who lose their steam a couple weeks into the New Year!

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

60 comments

Jennifer F
Jennifer F5 months ago

Great information to read and share with others!

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven5 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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Cindy M. D
Cindy M. Dutka5 months ago

Excellent ideas!! I do love taking nature walks and I can promise they do work and so does meditation. A happy and healthy new years wish to everyone!! Happy 2017.

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Kay M
Kay M5 months ago

thanks.

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Siyus C
Siyus Copetallus5 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Siyus C
Siyus Copetallus5 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Ruth R
Ruth R5 months ago

Thank You! Thank you for some good advice!

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Peggy B
Peggy B5 months ago

TYFS

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Donna T
Donna T5 months ago

thank you

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heather g
heather g5 months ago

Deep breathing and focusing on my breath is the only way I rapidly move into dreamland each evening. It works wonders..

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