January is truly a month of catharsis. The holiday decorations come down, the holiday pounds (hopefully) begin to come off, and it’s time to take on the New Year with a fresh start.
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While exercise and weight loss are the most popular resolutions from year-to-year, I like to resolve to take on more of cleanse mind-set, and not just for my diet, but for body, home, and my digital life.
Follow along to find out my 10 steps to reset, refresh, and get organized in the New Year:
Kicking-off with the Halloween candy explosion and continuing right on through New Year’s Eve, the holiday season is one of indulgence, most often in the form of food and drink. Everything seems to be full of dairy, sugar, or carbs, which is not only hard on your digestive system, but also shows up on the scale. So, while I try to stay away from a “diet” plan (since we all know how successful those tend to be), I like to focus on cleansing my food and drink consumption with these key steps.
1. Hydrate. Amping up on hydration is the first step in getting your body back on track. As I detailed in this previous article, increasing water intake can lead to clearer skin, improved energy, weight loss, reduced stress, and a decrease in head and body aches, all things I’m in need of come January. To help things along, I’m planning to invest in a water bottle with time marked measurements to easily monitor and increase my daily H2O intake.
2. Promote Gut Health. The importance of maintaining a happy gut cannot be overstated. Good gut health aids in weight loss, limits belly bloat, promotes mental well-being, decreases fatigue, and just makes you feel better. Increasing the intake of probiotics (good bacteria) is one of the best methods to promote gut balance. Probiotics are of course available in supplement form, but I prefer to add them to my daily diet with fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, and kombucha. And a little side note, after months of unsuccessfully trying to jump on the kombucha bandwagon (but finding it too sour for my liking) I finally found this amazingly mild and delicious brand.
3. Embrace Dry January. I love a glass of wine after a long day. Indulging in a little vino seems to send the “you survived the day and now its time to unwind” signal to my brain. But, with the added celebrations of the holidays also come added libations. By the time January hits, it’s time to embrace dry January and give the old liver some time to restore. Abstaining from alcohol tends to have the added effect of weight loss via consuming fewer empty calories, as well as avoiding the lapse in good nutritional judgement that can result in overdoing the booze. In order to stick out this month of sobriety, I splurge on some fancy evening teas and stock the fridge with my favorite brand of flavored sparkling water.
4. Limit Processed Food. Ditching processed foods for whole ones (i.e. food as close to its natural state as possible) is one of the most obvious ways to clean up your diet. Processed foods are not only loaded with empty calories and excessive sugar and sodium, the added chemicals they tend to carry put more digestive strain on your body. I find the easiest way to steer clear of processed foods is to plan out meals, and especially snacks in advance, making sure you are prepared for easy meals and noshes when hunger strikes. My go to favorite (minimally) processed snacks are pistachios, veggie slices and homemade hummus, and apple slices with a sprinkling of cinnamon.
While Spring is the traditional time of year for a deep clean, I always prefer to take this task on in January. I find the act of taking down all our holiday decorations on New Year’s Day, then giving the house a hefty cleaning extremely cathartic (a great podcast comes in handy here)! The feeling of being super organized helps begin the new year full of energy.
During this quiet month I also tackle deep cleaning projects and purging before the Spring fever-pitch of baseball, ballet performances, and never-ending gardening tasks take over my life.
5. Clean, Organize, and Purge Every Space. I know this sounds a little daunting, but your whole year will run smoother if you take the time to go through all the things in your home. Cleaning, organizing, and purging unneeded items from my home room-by-room is easier for me than the popular Marie Kondo method as I can tackle a little bit each day rather than all at once. By the end of the month, not only will your home be clean and organized, I promise you will uncover many a missing thing, as well as stuff you forgot you even had. In making this an annual process you’ll find each additional year’s home cleanse is quicker and easier since items haven’t been accumulating unnoticed for years on end.
6. Launder Large Items. In the spirit of getting things sparkly, January is a great time to visit the laundromat or dry cleaners, and give seldom-cleaned large textiles such as rugs, drapes, duvets, and pillows that are often deemed too bulky for a home machine, a good cleaning. Not sure where to take them? All of the items should have cleaning instructions listed on their tags.
7. Schedule Home Maintenance. While January isn’t the best month for many seasonal home maintenance appointments such as window or chimney cleaning, it is a good time to get these appointments on the books for the year ahead. I have a running list of annual home maintenance tasks to schedule including, carpet, duct, and gutter cleanings, that either get on the calendar for the upcoming year, or set alerts on my phone reminding me when it’s the appropriate time to schedule.
Giving your digital world a good cleanup can be just as refreshing as getting your health and home on track. Here three ways to easily de-clutter your devices.
8. Unsubscribe and Unfollow!: Ever notice how you order something online from an company one time, then you are hit with multiple marketing emails a day from them going forward? It seems that I cannot give out my email to any company or organization without eventually getting bombarded by their marketing. And although it’s easy enough to simply delete these emails, it still creates yet another item cluttering up my inbox and brain waves. Similarly, it’s a great time to take stock of who you follow on social media and shed accounts that don’t give you value or those folks that bring you down in some way. This January while I indulge in my evening Netflix, I am going through all the marketing ploys and social media accounts (unsubscribing just takes a minute or so) to all but those I really like and need to keep-up on daily. It’s better to focus on what inspires you and makes you happy, and shop promotions when you are ready to buy something, than wading through a sea of people and promotions, right?
9. Delete Unneeded Apps and Contacts: We are all nose-deep in our phones these days, so why not give social media a breather and spend a little time in maintenance mode. Start by going through all the apps on your phone, deciding if they are really something you use and need. Once the riff-raff is deleted, rearrange what’s left so your go-to apps appear first on your screen. Next, scroll through the contacts on your phone and social media, filtering out those who are no longer required (i.e. my ex-boyfriend’s best friend) or maybe even those “friends” whose posts make your blood boil from time-to-time! I’ve found the added benefit of this practice highlights for me people who I’ve lost touch with or simply am just overdo to see or call, giving me a nudge to reach out.
10. Computer Clean-Up: Finally, it’s time to clean up the old PC. Computers and cloud storage systems store such a large amount of data these days it’s easy to just save and forget what you have. Similar to going room-by-room in your home, take a deep dive into what and where you are storing documents on your computer, deleting, organizing, and even backing up important files as you go. Next time you’re hunting a document down, or you get the dreaded blue screen of death, you’ll be much more organized and prepared.
This year, instead of thinking of January as the month of “no fun,” embrace it as a time to reset, restore, and refresh your body, home, and overall lifestyle, preparing to take on an amazing year ahead!
All photos by Nicole Vaughn.
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