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As the year’s end approaches, we find ourselves reflecting on everything that happened since the last one. How have we changed? Have we reached our goals? Are we where we want to be? They are heavy questions, but important to ask, because without checking in with ourselves, we can’t possibly reach our ultimate potential; our ultimate happiness.

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But time and time again, many of us find there is still so much we haven’t crossed off our to-do lists. Whether it be to find a job that makes us feel enriched, speak to ourselves and others from a place of kindness, or pick up an exercise regimen we enjoy every single day, we let life get in the way of what matters to us most. Habits die hard, time takes over, and sometimes we’re left feeling really low by December 31st.

So we set resolutions. We promise ourselves we won’t do certain things, and that we will follow through with everything we failed to do last year. We prohibit in order to achieve greatness. But does practicing deprivation really work? Whether it be from drinking or judging, the more we tell ourselves “no,” the more we want it. And setting up your new year coming from a place of fear and negativity is no way to live.

So how do we change our attitudes? First off, we must change how we view the New Year. When you are reflecting on how you would like to approach the end of the year, try viewing it as an opportunity to release the year and embrace the new one ahead. Next, try incorporating meaningful rituals to help you let go of 2015, regardless of what happened. It’s time to make room for what lies ahead.

1. Cleanse your home.

Grab a bottle, fill it with water, and then put fresh lemon or an herb like lavender in it and spray it throughout your home as you inhale deeply. Aromatherapy is said to heal the body in a variety of ways, whether it be serving to rejuvenate, balance, calm, or energize. Studies have even found that this practice may help to relieve anxiety and depression as well as improve quality of life, specifically in people suffering from chronic health conditions.

2. Make amends.

As much as none of us may want to hurt others, sometimes it just happens. But, in the words of Buddha, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” And medically speaking, frequently experiencing high levels of anger can contribute to such health issues as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, cancer, heart attacks, and much more. So whether you hurt someone, or someone hurt you, it’s time to forgive and move forward. Your energy is better served focusing on positivity,  especially since holding onto grudges is entirely draining. Apologize to those who you have wronged, and embrace others doing the same to you.

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3. Carve out an hour of “me” time.

When the holidays hit, it can feel like you spend more time than ever trying to make things work for other people. You want them to feel appreciated by attending their parties, by listening intently to their struggles, and by giving them thoughtful gifts. But, it’s also incredibly important to spend time honoring yourself. Do something that makes you feel good, whether that be singing, painting, exercising, or simply just sitting in silence.

4. Be Grateful To Yourself

Be thankful for your body, your health, and your unique and beautiful qualities from the inside out. Appreciation for your individuality can go a long way in life, leading to happiness, success, and so much more. Check out these unusual research-backed ways to shine a little brighter.

5. Silence yourself.

In a world ridden with information-overload (thanks to the Internet and other technologies), it can be quite difficult to shut our brains off. We engage endlessly — through talking, texting, searching for answers online, and so much more. But research has shown that there are some big downsides to such behaviors. What would it be like to pull the headphones from our ears, put our phones away, close our laptops, turn off our TVs, and just sit in silence? Try to make a daily ritual of unplugging once a day for 10, 20, or even 60 minutes and then reflect on how that alters you.

Images: Mind Body Green

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