Maybe you discovered the accidental benefit of celebrating with family or friends who don’t “party hearty.” Or the hangover routine has gotten old — but you don’t want to relegate the celebration to the past. Whatever the reason, now’s the time to contemplate the possibility of feeling great on January 1 — and here are 24 ideas for doing that, without sacrificing festivity.
- TREAT YOURSELF. Get the girls together for a night of pampering — with the help of mobile or on-demand beauty services, or have everyone bring their favorite products and nail colors and do it yourselves. Serve snacks on the healthy side (those cucumbers do double duty on the eyes and in dips!), popcorn and skinny sips (a splash of booze is okay).
- RISE WITH THE SUN. Talk about fresh perspective. Find a friend and pick a spot to watch the sun come up. Try a sun salutation — you can find instructions online — or add a walk, and feel glorious even if it’s gray. Get out early (while it’s dark) in time to hear birds and your town or city come to life with the light.
- GO TO A MOVIE. Whether you check out a comedy or a tearjerker with someone else on the sofa or by yourself in a theater, there’s something comforting about sharing those emotions with people you know or even a roomful of strangers. Laughter has been shown to have a number of health benefits, and a good belly laugh or sob fest can be pretty cathartic, too (and no one can see you cry in the dark).
- MAKE A RITUAL. Resolutions are one kind of ritual. Light a candle, invite people to say an inspiration or an aspiration, toss a pebble into the lake for each regret that you need to let go, plant a seed… there are plenty of other ways to do it, but creating some kind of ritual can bring physical meaning and reinforcement to an intention (or release).
- MEDITATE. Take a few minutes for a simple, do-it-anywhere breathing meditation if you’ve never tried it — or, if you practice regularly, try not to skip on New Year’s Eve. Mindful breathing offers an easy introduction for first-timers. Or try the abundance meditation in this issue.
- SEEK OUT PEOPLE WHO MAKE YOU HAPPY. Dreading the party your friend has hosted for 15 years? Politely decline and make your own celebration with people who will lift up your spirits.
- GO FOR A MIDNIGHT RUN. Want a change of pace for New Year’s Eve? An organized run with a local club (check online) or a spontaneous one with friends will give you a jump on your resolution, whether that’s sticking with it or smashing your personal best.
- DANCE YOUR BUTT OFF. Whether you opt for a formal New Year’s Eve ball, live music, a nightclub or your own dance party at home, music and movement get your heart pumping to burn calories and lift your spirits. Get your friends and family to vote on the playlist or request their fave picks.
- STRETCH. Static stretching helps lengthen and relax your muscles — and stretching your legs before bed has been shown to help you relax into a more restful sleep. Need some energy? Try some dynamic stretching to get the blood flowing and loosen things up, whether you’re getting ready to boogie or need a boost in the final stretch to midnight.
- WALK ON. Break away from the party early, and grab a few friends for a brisk walk and talk. Whether you finish as the clock strikes or sooner, you’ll get the benefits of some exercise and good conversation.
- TAKE THE FIRST STEP. Take a step toward a habit you want to make, but haven’t. Maybe that’s stretching more or jogging three times a week before work. Start with just putting on your running clothes when you roll out of bed. Studies show that chances are good you’ll go for that run — might as well, if you’re dressed for it.
- GET ONE MORE. Get a quick workout in on the last day of the year — you won’t regret it, whether it makes you feel like you got a jump on 2016 or ended 2015 on a high note.
- MIX IT HEALTHY. Yes, you do get some nutrients from fresh fruits and juices in cocktails — so mix your own and skip the heavy sweeteners that can exacerbate alcohol’s effects (and that horrendous hangover the next day). Find recipes that include fresh herbs and other ingredients, invest in a few tools and enjoy the process of mixing your own — the scent released by muddling, the tang from fresh citrus zest (without the bitter pith), the bite of a piquant pepper.
- HYDRATE. Even if you indulge in a cocktail or two beyond your plans, drink plenty of water. Make it another drinking game — and down a full glass. Do the same if it’s “too late” and you’ve woken up in the middle of the night. The extra hydration will help flush toxins from your body.
- SNACK SMART. Choose wisely now, and you’ll be glad you got a head-start on your weight-loss goal later. Make sure you don’t try to compensate for caloric beverages by skipping food entirely. Fresh fruits and veggies, sauces or bean spreads instead of dips, and don’t forget some roasted nuts, chickpeas or other protein to go with (but easy on the salt) — chances are, you’ll feel satisfied without feeling bloated.
- COOK UP SOMETHING NEW. Take a break from the same old cheesy sticks you bring to the party — everyone else is probably sick of it too — and find something new to make. Nervous about the results? Choose something simple like a seasoned nut mix or Asian dipping sauce — and you can always whip up the old familiar as a back-up.
- DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Going to a restaurant with friends? Prep to feel great — and guilt-free — the next day. Check online or call ahead and find out what’s on the menu and whether they can skinny down servings (portion size or ingredients) on request.
- SNACK AHEAD. Follow mom’s advice not to go to the party hungry. On January 1, you’ll be glad you weren’t scarfing cocktail sausages for dinner.
- MAKE A TIME CAPSULE. A time capsule is a great way to process the year’s events now — and later. Invite everyone — grown-ups and kids — to contribute their favorite song, trend, headline, photo or any other discovery from 2015. Put it in a container with a promise to reopen it with the same group at some point in the future (maybe New Year’s Eve 2016).
- PARTY LIKE A KID AGAIN. You can find fun and creative ways to celebrate with little ones, from treat- or activity-filled balloons they can pop hourly (up to bedtime or midnight, if they’re allowed to stay up), to serving sparkling cider “champagne” in fancy stemware. Break out the party hats and kazoos and have a parade, sing, snap photos and send them to far-away friends or family.
- SAY NO, THANK YOU. Politely and with confidence, to anything that just doesn’t feel right or healthy, or that makes you unhappy: another cocktail, a family “debate” (or argument), a friend’s drunken confession. It’s okay to say “not right now,” without explanation. You’ll skip the rise in blood pressure and indigestion, and discover that your family and friends will not disown you for taking care of your own mental health.
- PLAY GAMES. Good old-fashioned board games and word and picture games that require players to define, describe and bluff their way to winning can make for good fun and a lot of laughs.
- GO FOR THE VIRAL SMILES. Now’s the time to indulge in some internet happiness if New Year’s feels blue. Love fireworks? Funny cat videos? So do thousands of other people, and their contributions are out there waiting to cheer you up.
- GET YOUR GRATITUDE ON. Take a few minutes to come up with five things you’re grateful for, from the past year or today: the stranger who opened the door for you, your friend’s recovery from surgery, a new pair of running shoes, your son’s ability to weather a job change he didn’t choose, your dog’s wet-nosed morning greeting, or just that first cup of coffee.