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New Year—New You?

The Holiday season has come to a close. Leftover food sits quietly in the refrigerator still waiting to be consumed.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – The Holiday season has come to a close.  Leftover food sits quietly in the refrigerator still waiting to be consumed. Mountains of decorations have been carefully returned to their storage places in the attic or the closet.  The parties are over, and the relatives have all gone home.  Life returns to “normal”. 

     “Normal” can mean different things to different people.  To many, normal means returning to work or school, living with schedules, attending meetings, and “getting back to the daily grind”.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day celebrations had most people sitting on pins and needles with the excitement the holidays promised.  Now the prospect of returning to the old routine can be quite a let-down.  What is a person to do?

     A new year stretches before us.  The slate is clean, waiting on each person to decide what the coming days will bring.  Many people make promises to themselves, such as eating healthier, exercising, and losing weight.  Others promise themselves to spend more time with family and friends.  Still others plan to make personal changes like watching less television, starting a new hobby, and spending more time outdoors.

     Whatever the plans for 2018, this is a time for new beginnings.  An air of excitement should be building as new goals are set and personal improvement is high on everyone’s priority list.  The following list might help that individual who is having a hard time coming up with ideas that will make 2018 the best year ever. 

     Determine to be happier.  Happiness is a product of what a person thinks about.  Everyone has hard times periodically, but how someone reacts to the hard times has a huge impact on their happiness or the lack thereof.  To dwell only on the negative will drain a person’s energy and their zest for life.  Thinking on things that are good, admirable, and praiseworthy will cause changes on the inside that will create a happier demeanor on the outside. 

     Schedule family time.  During the work day, most live on a pretty tight schedule.  In order to get things done, the schedule must be followed closely.  Make “family time” part of the home schedule.  As everyone gets back into their daily routine, choose a night where the whole family can be home and have dinner together.  Don’t let dinner time be when reprimands occur for that bike left out in the rain or that room that hasn’t been cleaned.  The dinnertime conversation should be one where everyone can share their day or week without the dread of getting a lecture for their shortcomings.

     Get more sleep.  The National Sleep Foundation Research shows that Americans get 20% less sleep today than a century ago.  Many suffer from sleep deprivation because of cell phone and computer usage.  Another reason for lack of sleep is television airing 24 hours a day.  Sleep issues can be created due to work schedules as shifts can occur any time of the day or night.  The recommended number of hours needed for the body to function at optimal level is seven to nine hours.  A recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention showed that over one third of U.S. adults aren’t getting enough shut-eye. 

     Schedule some down time for you and your kids.  While structured activities are great ways for kids to spend time with their friends while helping them to learn social skills, trouble comes when a parent suddenly realizes their child has an activity every day of the week.  Kids need time to relax and unwind after a long day at school or daycare.  Adults need down time, too.  Unplug from work when you get home.  Leaving work at work is a good way to recharge your batteries. 

     Don’t let the end of the holiday season be the only time life is exciting.  Plan to enjoy every single day of this year.  Set goals that are reasonable to reach.  Plan to be happy!   

By Linda Bates
County Extension Agent - 4-H
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Linda Bates
County Extension Agent - 4-H
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
236 Woodbine Hot Springs AR 71901
(501) 623-6841
lbates@uaex.edu

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