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5 Legit, Free Ways to Be Kinder to Yourself—and the Planet—in 2016

SONY DSC
SONY DSC

I don’t know about you, but for me the new year couldn’t have come soon enough. While we’ve had our moments, overall you’d have a hard time arguing that 2015 wasn’t dominated by everything from the absurd to the truly horrifying. So now that the dust has settled from the past year, our thoughts naturally turn to what we can make of 2016.

While New Year’s resolutions are great, making a mile-long list of what you’d like to change can be daunting and sometimes even set you up for failure. To counteract this, we’ve put together a handy list to help you maximize the new year and the potential that it brings!

1.  Think small.

It’s easy to scare yourself into thinking that making significant changes in your life requires radical readjustments, but change doesn’t have to be big to be meaningful. Instead of fixating on a big purpose or goal, try focusing more on the progress. Want to conserve energy and help the environment? Don’t keep your electrical appliances running when they’re not in use (and unplug chargers from the wall when you’re not actually powering up). Looking forward to keeping your cool in 2016? Try these easy meditation tips and get zen on the go!

2. Talk it out!

Talking about the positive changes you want to make in your life helps keep you accountable and establishes lines of communication and support with your friends and family for when you really need it. It can also promote awareness and discussion on everything from feminismdestigmatizing mental illness to climate change via respectful dialogue. The best part? With the intersection of social change and technology, you can help influence the world for good without ever leaving your apartment.

3. Bring order to your life.

Luxurious spa days are a nice treat, but it’s important to remember that self-care starts at home. Our lives are often complicated and messy, and though no one could blame you for leaving your bed unmade or letting the dishes “soak” for too long, everyone deserves to live in an environment free from chaos. Unf*ck Your Habitat is a great and hilarious resource for helping you make the first step in decluttering your life, and their app is available for both Android and iOS. And once you downsize your closet, you can donate your preloved goods to Wearable & Walkable Collections to keep them out of landfills and into the lives of those who need it most.

4. Get a reusable water bottle.

Did you know that more than 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated? This is crazy when you realize that staying hydrated is an easy preventative measure to a variety of medical complications such as fatigue, joint pain, weight gain and even ulcers and high blood pressure. Using a reusable bottle not only ensures that you reap enormous health benefits, but also helps you take direct action against the suffocating effects of plastic waste on our planet. And when you think about it, you’d have to be a sucker to pay for something that’s so essential that they don’t even charge for it at restaurants. You’re not a sucker, are you?

5. Don’t be sorry (unless you mean it).

While there are certainly some people who could do with apologizing a lot more in their lives, it’s high time that women stop using the word “sorry” like a piece of bologna wrapped around a pill for your dog. Using qualifiers like “just” and “sorry” don’t actually make your demands any palatable, and in fact can often backfire by being too indirect. Want to make changes but unsure how to begin? Tami Reiss’ handy Google Chrome extension Just Not Sorry is a great tool to help you make better word choices and articulate exactly what you mean.

Main image via Flickr.

Soyo Hong (b. 1989, Seoul, Korea) is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Illustration. An artist and writer in NYC, she is a regular contributor to digital platforms such as Animal New York, Hopes&Fears, and Ratter.