10 Ways to End Your Year on a High Note Before You Start Making Resolutions About the Next

Winter is a great time of year to do a bit of “spring” cleaning.
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Nora McCormick
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Winter is a great time of year to do a bit of “spring” cleaning.

When something ends, people tend to look back, reminisce, and think about where things went right or where things went wrong. The end of a year is obviously no exception. It’s the season of resolutions, gym memberships, diets, ablutions and renewed promises. So here are some ways to send 2016 out with a bang, and start 2017 off right.

Tiny horse optional.

Tiny horse optional.

Train easy.

Nobody expects you to run a marathon tomorrow, so why train like you will? Start off with one or two manageable workouts per week, and work yourself up to more when you can handle it. Once you’ve got that routine down (and stick to it!) it will be easier to add more days, longer workouts, harder challenges. Making your goals smaller and more achievable will still give you a sense of accomplishment once you’ve reached them. Remember, you learned to crawl before you learned to walk, and to run only after you mastered those. Baby steps.

Eat like you’re used to (almost).

Going cold turkey on things that you are used to eating is not only difficult for anyone to do, but can also be counter-productive in the long run. Your body needs to get used to the changes in your diet gradually, so if you are used to eating a diet high in carbs or sugar or fats and suddenly cut those things out, your body won’t know what's happening. It will think maybe you got stuck in a snow drift on the side of the road somewhere and are starving to death. It will try to survive by holding on to those fat stores for as long as it can. 

Instead, try cutting down the things you are used to eating. Change one meal per day from your usual heavy fare to a healthier alternative. Once you get the hang of switching out your usual pound packing meals for healthy alternatives, you can start doing it more often. You’ll start feeling better and seeing results, and that will encourage you to do more.

Take out the trash.

Sometimes, the things in our lives that are not healthy for us aren’t lazy habits and unhealthy diets — sometimes they're people. Breaking up is notoriously hard to do, especially around this time of year. There are the holiday excuses — “I can’t break up with him now, it’s Christmas, that would be so wrong,” “I can’t be alone on New Year’s, who am I going to kiss at midnight?” “Valentine’s Day is just around the corner” — and the next thing you know, it’s Memorial Day and you’re planning a barbecue with the person who doesn’t make you happy. We have an amazing capacity for fooling ourselves into believing something is right, or even just OK, for the time being. We are somehow able to ignore that little whining voice in the back of our heads. But here’s the thing: it never goes away. Try as you might, you cannot actually make something work if it’s not right. 

And then comes the hard part. Recognizing it and taking action. When a relationship is unhealthy or toxic, there are plenty of signs. It’s just up to you to pay attention and read them. If your family and friends have concerns, if you find yourself compromising everything you thought you wanted in a partner, if you notice negative changes in yourself since you started seeing this person, it might be time to cut them off. 

It doesn’t have to be with a significant other; the same goes for friends or even family members. If someone in your life is making you unhappy or uncomfortable or suffer in any way, it might be in your best interests to sever ties with that person. Putting yourself first is usually seen as selfish, especially for women who are thought to be hard-wired for nurturing, giving, and generally coming last. But if you want to take control of your life and make it as positive and happy as possible, people who bring you down have got to go. It won’t be easy, and they may not understand, but it is essential to living a healthy, happy life.

Go outside!

It’s cold, it’s dark, and there are so many awesome shows on Netflix right now. Wouldn’t you rather sit in your comfy pajamas and curl up on the couch with your favorite snacks and a marathon stream of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? I know I would, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the last few weeks. But that’s all the more reason to get up and out of the house, for a little while at least. 

Not everyone suffers from seasonal depression, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get as much fresh air and sunlight as you can during the colder months. When you wake up and go to work and it’s dark out, and then come home and it’s dark out, you don’t have much opportunity to see the sun. Take every chance you can get, even if it’s just a short walk to the Starbucks on the corner for a cup of coffee, or a stroll through the park at lunch. You’ll feel more like a Buffy and less like a Drusilla after you have.

Clean house.

Winter is a great time of year to do a bit of “spring” cleaning. It’s a perfect time to do some work inside, since it’s too cold to spend much time outside. We tend to accumulate a lot of stuff over the year, and most people have more stuff than they actually need. It’s a great way to organize your life and get some perspective. You can even do the right thing and give those gently used clothes, coats, and house wares to the charity of your choice.

Take action.

2016 has been a year of much social and political upheaval. If it’s got you down like it has me, then do something about it. Donate to causes you believe in, call your representatives to make your voice heard, volunteer, sign petitions, protest, march, organize, boycott, inform, drop your corporate bank, make art, write songs, design t-shirts, do whatever you can to make a difference and take action. Otherwise, you will end up just being a bystander during one of the most important times of our lives. There’s nothing more depressing than feeling hopeless and powerless, so find your power and spread the hope!

Make time for love.

The holidays are all about being together with the people you love, o make sure that you make time for the people you care about. Reach out to friends you haven’t spoken to in a while, visit your grandparents, babysit your friend’s kids so they can go out on a date night. Spread the love, you’ll feel better.

Assess.

Now is a great time to take a closer look at the things you’ve left on auto-pilot for a while. Are you happy with your job? Do you like where you live? Could your hair use an upgrade? Sometimes we forget to take stock of our lives because they’ve been going on as usual, but that’s not always a positive thing. Change is hard but it’s good, and it’s better to be in the driver’s seat and in control or your life than to just sit back and let life happen to you.

Try something new.

There is something that you’ve always wanted to do but never found the time or were too scared to try. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Take that dance class, go rock climbing, buy the fancy camera, learn a language or an instrument, take a trip. Just do it before it’s too late, because you never know when it really will be. You will always regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did do. And if it doesn’t work out, at least you tried, and maybe now you have a funny story to tell at the holiday party!

Treat yo self!

It’s the season of giving and so that’s what we do. We think of everyone else before we think of ourselves. This year, once you’ve checked off everyone on your list, do something nice for yourself. Buy that new lipstick set you’ve been eyeing, go for a massage, or take yourself on a date. I can’t speak enough to the pleasure of seeing a movie all alone. You don’t have to share your popcorn, explain the confusing bits, or compromise on what to watch. You can feel just fine about going to see that guilty pleasure rom-com or fantasy flick. Plus, after all the hard work of exercising, eating well, and cleaning house, you deserve it.