The beginning of a new year is a time for reflection, renewal, and resolutions. It’s a time when many of us stop to take a look at our lives and our habits, asking ourselves, how can I live a happier life? Often, the answer lies in taking better care of ourselves – our bodies and our minds.
This is particularly true for those who work as caregivers, a career in which it’s all too easy to neglect your own self-care, as well as those for whom they provide care. Here are a few fun and easy ideas that can help you live a happier and healthier life, at any age, in 2019. They are versatile enough to try with friends, family members, and neighbors. If you’re a caregiver, they can be easily incorporated into the day-to-day care of your clients – or into your own personal life, if you benefit from home health and/or companion care.
Discover a new hobby. Research shows that continuously introducing the brain to new things keeps it young, sharp, and healthy. Picking up a new hobby is one way to give your brain a workout. The best hobby is one that challenges you while still feeling fun and enjoyable. Many people find solace in activities that require careful attention and mindfulness, such as knitting, weaving, or painting.
These hobbies allow you to zone out from the stress of everyday life and escape completely into what you’re doing. Other people prefer the rush of endorphins that comes with more active hobbies, like walking. Physically active hobbies have the advantage of benefiting your mind and body health, but don’t think you have to limit yourself if you are not highly mobile: There are plenty of stationary hobbies that still challenge your brain and allow you to reap the health benefits.
Join a social group. Chances are, your town or city offers a variety of social groups that you are not yet taking advantage of. Even small towns have clubs and groups for activities like walking, reading books, and playing cards. Isolating yourself socially is the quickest way to feel unhappy; humans crave frequent and engaging social interaction. Luckily, there’s an easy fix to this problem:
Do a Google search or check your local paper for social clubs that meet near you. Meeting new people and developing close relationships is a one-way ticket to a happier and more exciting life. Research shows that it’s great for mental health and may even keep you active by providing fun opportunities for outings and physical activities. If this sounds like a good idea but you don’t know which kind of club to start with, visit your local senior center or YMCA. These environments provide a great starting point for social groups. Maybe you’ll find your people shooting hoops, walking a few laps around the track, or just sitting and chatting.
Rediscover cooking. It’s easy to fall into a routine in the kitchen, cooking the same few dishes over and over. After all, if you find something you like, why not hold onto it? While it’s okay to have your favorite recipes, don’t let them limit you from trying something new. Mixing things up in the kitchen will help you fall in love with food and cooking all over again.
Start by finding out what foods are in season, either by consulting the internet or visiting your local farmers market. Seasonal produce is always the most flavorful and delicious, and since it’s the freshest, it’s also richest in nutrients. From there, challenge yourself to prepare ingredients in a way you never have before. Many places have at least one or two international stores, where you can buy new spices and herbs that you may have never tried before.
If you want to make it even more fun, invite friends or family to help. Interactive dinner parties are way more engaging! You may not love every new dish you prepare, but trying new things is good for brain health, and if you incorporate seasonal fruit and veggies, your body will thank you, too.
Pick a room/area in your home to redecorate. Our environment affects our happiness way more than most people think or notice. If your bedroom is cluttered, your mind will feel cluttered; if your bedroom is tidy and styled just to your tastes, you’ll wake up feeling ready to tackle the day. Picking an area in your home to redecorate is a fun and rewarding project that leaves you with a tangible sense of accomplishment at the end.
It doesn’t have to be expensive, either: Cleaning is always free once you have the supplies to do it, and thrift stores are a wonderful place to find unique household decorations. Spend a day browsing the thrift shops in your area, and you’re bound to find at least a few one-of-a-kind gems that fit your liking. Even small touches – like replacing ancient curtains with new ones that you love or buying a few candles to adorn your dresser – can completely change the feel of a space. You deserve to have somewhere that feels like your own private haven, and creating it yourself is oh-so-fun. Plus, it satisfies the craving for change and renewal that many people feel at the beginning of a new year.
These healthy living ideas illustrate that you don’t have to spend an hour at the gym every day to live healthfully; simply incorporating more movement into your life and trying new things goes a long way in making you live a longer, fuller life. If you feel so inspired, these can be adopted as new year’s resolutions – ones that you’ll actually look forward to keeping. Happy 2019!