You know the best thing about New Year's? Yes, the answer is champagne toasts. However, every January 1 is also a clean slate, an opportunity to start fresh. So why take the habits that are no longer serving you along for the ride?
Here are eight things you need to leave behind in 2017 so you can have a happy and healthy 2018 and enjoy the year you deserve.
1. Comparing yourself to people on social media.
Here’s the thing: Social media isn’t real. The vast majority of what you see on social media is simply not an accurate representation of real life. So if you find yourself getting serious FOMO when you see Insta photos from your friend’s recent backpacking trip, or stressing that everyone you know seems to be getting married while you’re still swiping left on Tinder, remember: You’re not getting the whole story.
Your friend’s backpacking trip looks amazing, but she definitely wasn’t posting pictures of the three days she spent laid up in bed, sick as all get out. And it might seem like everyone you know is having the perfect wedding, but they’re not sharing the epic meltdowns they had getting there (or the imperfect aspects of their relationships—which definitely exist).
The point is, no one’s life is perfect, no matter how it looks on social media. So stop comparing your real life to someone else’s highlight reel.
2. Spending all day with your butt in a chair.
If you spend all day with your butt in a chair, 2018 is the year to get up and get moving. No, sitting is not the new smoking, but holding any one position all day can have seriously adverse effects on your health. Research has linked too much sitting to all sorts of health problems, including cancer, heart disease, and depression.
So if you spend all day sitting at a desk, this year, make a commitment to get up and move. A recent study found that people who sit for less than 30 minutes at a time have the lowest risk for early death—so set an alarm on your phone to go off every half hour, and when the alarm goes up, get up, walk around, and stretch for five minutes. You can also combat the "too much sitting" syndrome by getting your sweat on every day and by alternating sitting and standing throughout the workday (try a standing desk!).
3. Wearing "busy" as a badge of honor.
We live in a culture that places value on being constantly busy. As we rush from one appointment to the next with barely a minute to breathe in-between, we wear our heavy workloads like badges of honor, as though the more we can squeeze into a day, the better we are as people.
Yeah… let’s stop that, k? Being #omgsobusy isn’t something to be proud of, and having a jam-packed schedule isn’t virtuous—it’s a fast track to complete and total burnout. Plus, being busy can increase stress levels, and too much stress can cause a whole slew of health issues like anxiety, irritability, heart disease, and high blood pressure… seriously, it’s bad stuff.
Leave your admiration of overloaded schedules in 2017. This year, focus on balance: Create pockets in your schedule where you don’t have any plans or obligations. Say "no" to things you don’t really want to do. Schedule time for self-care. The less busy you are trying to do ALL THE THINGS, the more time you’ll have to do the things that actually matter.
4. Hitting the snooze button.
We’ve all had those days: You’re all nice and snuggly in your bed when your alarm goes off. All you want is ten more minutes in dreamland. So you hit the snooze button to give yourself a few more zzzs. And then you do it again. And maybe one more time. And then you’re totally late for work and have to rush around your home figuring out where you put the clean socks.
Hitting the snooze button in the morning is so, so tempting, but if you want to get the most out of your sleep—and have a killer day as a result—hitting snooze is something to leave behind in 2017.
Most sleep experts agree that it's a bad idea. You’re actually making it harder to get up on time in the future because you’re interrupting the natural stimulus and behavioral response cycle (your alarm goes off, you get out of bed), which makes it difficult to establish the habit of getting out of bed on time.
Interrupting your sleep with the snooze function can also inhibit your functioning throughout the day, making you feel sleepier and less energized as the day goes on. So if you want to get the most out of your sleep in 2018, disable your snooze button.
5. "Friends" who make you feel bad about yourself.
Do you have a friend who makes you feel bad about yourself? Someone who’s always criticizing or judging you? Someone who leaves you feeling drained every time you talk to them?
If so, 2018 is the year to cut them loose. Frenemies are the WORST. You are far too awesome to keep people in your life who drag you down. Everyone—yes, including you—deserves friends who are supportive, kind, caring, non-judgmental, compassionate, and all-around amazing. And if that doesn’t sound like some of the people you hang out with? It’s time to find new friends—or cultivate closer relationships with other people in your life who make you feel loved and valued.
6. Waking up and falling asleep with your phone.
If the last thing you do before you go to sleep and the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning is reach for your phone, this one’s for you.
Smartphones are amazing. It’s hard to believe that only 15 years ago, we were playing "Snake" on our Nokias and now everyone and their mom is carrying around a fully-functioning mini-computer in their pocket. There’s no denying the positive changes that have come from smartphone technology (looking at you, map app, without which I would have probably perished on numerous occasions), but there’s also no denying the downsides.
And too much time on your phone just isn’t good for you. Spending too much time gazing at a smartphone screen can actually lower cognitive functioning and drain your ability to think properly. Too much screen-time can also throw a wrench in your sleep habits, especially if you’re checking Instagram before your head hits the pillow; researchers at the University of California San Francisco found a direct correlation between scrolling through your phone at bedtime and decreased sleep efficiency, as well as poorer sleep quality.
We’re not saying you need to give up your smartphone entirely, but in 2018, make it a point to be on your phone less—especially at night.
7. Food shaming.
"I’m so bad for eating that piece of cake!"
"You had the pancakes for breakfast… maybe you should just skip lunch altogether."
"I can’t believe how much I ate today… I’m such a failure."
Food shaming (whether you’re shaming yourself or someone else) is a serious problem. Labeling certain foods as "good" or "bad" can cause us to judge the person who’s eating those foods as "good" or "bad." Food is not a moral choice—your friend who orders a smoothie for breakfast isn’t somehow better than the friend who polishes off a stack of French toast.
And the guilt we experience when we food shame ourselves can actually make it harder to make healthy food choices; a recent study found that when subjects reported feeling guilty after eating a piece of chocolate cake, they also reported higher levels of difficulty in controlling their eating.
8. Thinking that perfection = happiness.
The last thing to leave behind in 2017 so that 2018 is your best year ever? Thinking that perfection equals happiness. Perfection is an illusion. No one and nothing is perfect, and there’s no need to be! Imperfections are good stuff; they’re what make you you, and embracing those imperfections is the key to happiness—not trying to change yourself to fit into someone else’s idea of what "perfection" looks like.
So this year, remember: You don’t have to be perfect to be happy. You just have to be you.Deanna deBara is a freelance writer and accidental marathon runner living in Portland, OR. Keep up with her running adventures on Instagram @deannadebara.