How to start the New Year with a healthy mind

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Starting off the new year with a healthy mind is not only easy, there are also proven health benefits to being optimistic that include lower levels of distress and better heart health. Use these tips to break away from bad habits and practice working on yourself for a truly improved mindset.

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Filter out the negative emotions

When something bad happens, or when something doesn't exactly go your way, you can get caught up in it. You focus on the bad things while forgetting about the brighter side of a situation. Maybe you scored a big interview but didn't get the job. Filter out the negative emotions and be proud of yourself for getting the interview in the first place.

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Think about areas you want to change

Fear of change can be extreme for some people, but change can help you for the better. If you notice that your outlook on life is always negative, changing your perspective can be incredibly beneficial. Don't be afraid to ask a friend or colleague for insights on areas where you can focus more on the positives instead of the negatives.

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Be open to new experiences

New experiences can also cause major anxiety - it's a fear of the unknown, after all. It's easy to get stuck in a routine and to forget that it's good to experience things you're unfamiliar with. You may discover something about yourself that you never knew before. So whether it's going to a dance class or eating a new dish, keep an open mind. A single new experience just might change your life for the better.

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Lead a healthy lifestyle

One of the most common New Year's resolutions people make is to lose weight, but that's also one of the most difficult resolutions to stick to. There are plenty of healthy habits that are easier to maintain than losing weight, including adding healthier foods to your diet or finding ways to stay active with a busy schedule. Maintaining a healthy mindset is also important, because high levels of stress may cause you to seek comfort in food.  

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Surround yourself with positive people

Positive and negative energy can be contagious. If you surround yourself with people who are always in a bad mood, then you'll be in a bad mood, too. Try to spend time around positive people who can help boost your self-esteem and help you see the brighter side of things.

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Give yourself positive pep talks

Do you ever hear a small voice in the back of your head that says "you're not good enough for this" or "you're going to mess everything up"? A great method for countering these negative thoughts is to focus on positivity. You can write down your accomplishments or positive quotes on sticky notes and hang them around your house or office to remind yourself of the good things. There's also a study that shows the way you talk to yourself can influence how you regulate your emotions, thoughts and behavior under stress.

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Don't dwell on negative thoughts

You will always face challenges and obstacles, but if you choose to dwell on them you're going to blind yourself to the good things in your life. Focusing on negative emotions for too long can cause symptoms of stress such as headaches and trouble sleeping. For example, if someone cancels plans with you, don't think about how upset it makes you feel, instead focus on how much time you have to relax by yourself or do an activity that you enjoy.

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Manage your stress levels

It's not only negative emotions that can produce stress. A lot of positive moments, such as giving birth or getting a new job, can be stressful as well. But stress is a normal part of life and can be managed. Make sure to take a "time out" during stressful moments. For example, if you're having trouble accomplishing a task, take a short break and come back to it so it doesn't burn you out. It's important to know that stress can also put you at a higher risk of heart disease or stroke, so it's best to keep a positive attitude and accept that there are some things that are beyond your control.

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Reflect on the past year and show gratitude

As you welcome the new year and new opportunities, it's good to look back at the year we're leaving behind and be thankful for all the positive experiences and emotions it brought. It's easier than you think to show gratitude, even for the little things.

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Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness activities can include meditating, journaling or anything that helps keep stress and negative emotions at bay. Shutting off your mind for a few minutes and focusing on your breathing can have an enormous impact. Keeping a journal to track your moods every day is also a really great way to put everything into perspective. If you are able to visualize your moods and what sparks them, you may learn more about yourself.

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Set manageable goals

It may sound cliché, but manageable goals are easier to achieve. Instead of setting unrealistic goals like losing 100 pounds, instead aim to lose 10 pounds by March, and put an action plan in place, like adopting a ketogenic diet. Specific goals are also far more achievable than vague ones. Some small resolutions might even change your life.

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Reframe bad situations

When you learn to appreciate your surroundings, it's easier to stop your mind from going somewhere negative. Maybe you're experiencing really bad traffic or delays on public transit, but instead of getting frustrated about something you can't control, think about how you have an extra couple of minutes to listen to music or a podcast, or to lower your windows and enjoy the weather.

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Smile more

A study found that smiling can actually help you recover from stressful situations and reduce your heart rate. Laughing, even in bad situations, can lighten the mood and make everything seem easier to deal with.

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Accept that certain things can't be changed

There are always going to be certain things that are beyond your control. You can't change the flow of traffic, the subway system or the weather, for example. There's no point in stressing yourself out over things that you can't change; just accept it and continue on with your day.

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Enjoy the unexpected

You can't predict the future. Be open to change and open yourself up to the unexpected. You may be given the opportunity to travel to a country you've dreamed of going to, or you might end up meeting the love of your life. Instead of fearing the unknown, enjoy the ride that life takes you on.

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Set the tone for the day

How you start your day can really impact your mood throughout the day. Give yourself positive affirmations or listen to a song that brightens your mood during your commute. Early-morning positivity can stay with you throughout the day and is a small change you can make in your daily life that will have a big impact.

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