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New Year, New You

written by

Aliceson Bales

posted on

January 3, 2024

Happy New Year! Here’s hoping you enjoyed a blessed, peaceful, joyful holiday season with your most loved people by your side. I know for our family it was a great Christmas season and we were able for the first time in a long time to slow down and enjoy a few weeks of quiet and rest. 

And now we’ve turned the calendar to a new month and a new year. It’s crazy how time flies. Barry says he feels like it’s getting faster and faster each year. Marshall is now a junior in high school and taking mostly dual enrollment classes with the hopes of continuing his education at Coastal Carolina University after he graduates in 2025. It seems like forever to him but it’ll pass by in the blink of an eye to his dad and me. . . . And I know that just like us you are watching time speed by, watching kids grow and flourish, step into their own lives or loving grandkids and helping them slow down, speed up, soar into the future. 

It’s crazy isn’t it? That so many people are in such different stages of life and seem to be so far apart yet, really, we’re all facing the same issues. The same highs and the same lows. Because really, what we all want is to be loved and to love. To belong. To have people to laugh with, cry with and walk our days with. We all want to cheer others on and have someone cheer us on. To have someone to share our highs and lows with. 

So no matter what your particular hopes, dreams and goals are for this new year I believe there are common threads we share and because of those common threads there are common steps we can take to make 2024 the best year yet. I’m going to share with you a few steps I take in my life (not just in January) to make sure I’m living the way I want to live. I hope they help you make this new year even better than the last year!

  1. Optimize your “e-life” by decreasing your screen time in a few simple ways:
    1. Delete your old and/or unused apps. We all have them. The Babbel app you downloaded a few years ago to learn Spanish before your Mexican fiesta. The Harmonica app because you thought you would learn to play the harmonica (there’s only one Mickey Raphael folks!). The bubble games that were so popular and now are obsolete (or any other game your kid downloaded when he was 5 and now he’s playing his own phone). Delete those bad boys!
    2. Change your phone’s screen setting to grayscale. It’s easy to do with a few simple clicks in your “setting”. Just click it over to gray scale and watch your screen time decrease - on average it decreases usage by 50 minutes per day!
    3. Turn off notifications for apps and emails. Have you ever noticed how many times your phone signals you? And each time you reach for it, don’t you? I check my personal email once each day - before I start work. I don’t check it again until the next morning. So if you ever need me you need to call or text me. I check my work email at the beginning and ending of the work day. If it’s really important people will know how to reach you.
    4. And that brings me to the next recommendation. Set a time limit for scrolling through social media. Twenty minutes is a good amount of time to catch up with the folks who are really important in your life. Set the timer when you start, put the phone away when the alarm sounds and get back to life!
    5. Use the Do Not Disturb setting on your phone. Your favorites will still get through to you but not the random/annoying/unnecessary calls and texts. 
    6. If grabbing your phone is really a bad habit try taking social media accounts off your mobile devices on the weekends. Come back to your e-life during the work week and prioritize your friends and family on the weekends.

2.  Get outside. Every single day. In the sunshine. And in the rain. And in the snow. And in the wind. And everything in between. At least 30 minutes per day. Preferably in the morning and preferably doing something active - walking, running, jumping rope. But even if you are drinking coffee in your rocking chair on your porch, get outside. Without enough sunlight your serotonin levels drop which can trigger depression, anxiety and sleep abnormalities. Sunlight helps with improving levels of Vitamin-D and according to research, people who limit their exposure to sunlight safely have increased risk of colon cancer, lymphoma, ovarian, pancreatic and prostate cancers (I know, I know you’re going to ask about skin cancer so I’m going to put in here you need to wear sunscreen obviously but the above research is still true). Sunlight also helps treat skin conditions like the chronic psoriasis and eczema as well as acne and jaundice (remember when you had your baby? What did your pediatrician say?? Yep. True for us adults, too. Sunlight helps in all kinds of ways.)

3.  Eat one more legal at home each week. I’m not saying to become Betty Crocker or Ma Ingalls. I’m just saying one MORE meal home each week. It doesn’t have to be an 8-hour affair. Just one more meal at home, relaxing, talking with your people at the table. Do you know research shows that teens say they wish they had more meals at home with their families? I know. SHOCKING! Also teens say that’s when they feel most open to talking. I know!! I know!! Teenagers TALK! TO THEIR FAMILIES!!!!! It’s insanely amazing. But they feel people have time and listen to them when they’re at the table. So if you have a teenager - eat at home. Ask questions. Listen to the answers.

4. And lastly for this post, learn something new. This year. In 2024 I am challenging you to learn one new thing. A new language or a new skill. Cross stitching. French. Bread baking. Italian. Watercolor. Crocheting. Running. I’ve become an expert hobbyist this last year. I’ve really tried to embrace sucking at something. And it’s liberating! I just said the other day that I’m terrible at watercolors and that’s okay! I don’t need to monetize it. I just need to enjoy it. And there’s something very freeing in letting go of expectations and just trying something for the fun of trying. Sometimes I go out (when no one is around) and sit at the piano and try to plunk out a tune. I can only use one hand at a time. I never had lessons, though when I was a kid I wanted them so bad! But we didn’t have a piano (until my sister was on The Price Is Right - true story) so I couldn’t have lessons and I never learned. But I get Marshall’s old piano books out and plunk around a little. I’m bad and that’s okay. 

I hope these tips help you. I hope they ring true for you as you ring in this new year. I hope they help you live a better 2024. I hope you find yourself more present. More peaceful. More joyful. More you. 

Happy New Year,

Aliceson

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