As we kick off the new year, we often find ourselves reflecting on the past year and how we can improve ourselves, habits, and health moving into the future. More often than not, these resolutions are lofty and usually only last a couple of months before life somehow gets in the way and make us think “next year is the year, for sure.”
This year at Adventure Aide we’re coming up with simple ways to not only improve your physical health, but your mental health as well, which is just as important. We’ve put our heads together and narrowed down 5 easy ways to make you an overall happier person in 2019.
1. Try Something New
Feel like you’re stuck in the same old routine? Trying a new activity or hobby is a great way to mix things up. When you’re a newbie at something, you’re allowing yourself to be open and vulnerable, which are great spaces to be in order to learn about yourself. Not just what you like and dislike, but how you react with being outside your comfort zone.
One of the best ways to shed the fog of monotony is to go after something new! Don't let your pride get in the way of any clumsy first attempts through the learning curve- you WILL succeed in little ways, and celebrating those successes is the best part. Got two feet up on the board before the wave crushed you? Hell ya. Made it up over a rocky section of trail on your mountain bike for the first time? You go Glen Coco! That feeling of accomplishment will keep you motivated through the learning curve and push you to those next successful moments. Even if you don’t end up enjoying it, having the openness to new things gives you the courage and confidence to tackle anything life throws at you. And who knows, that first sea kayak adventure could totally change your world!
2. Get Outside
With colder temps and shorter days, it’s easy to make excuses for not spending time outdoors during the Winter. Trust us, we get it, cozying up to a warm fire and binging Black Mirror sounds good to us too. However, science is telling us just how important getting outside every day really is to our overall health and happiness. Being exposed to nature helps to relieve social stresses, allowing you to refocus on the value of your relationships. Not only that, but being outdoors increases your creative side (you know, the one that no one thinks they have). Psychologists conducted a study and found that avid backpackers performed 50% better on creativity tests after an extended period off the grid without wifi or cell service.
Tired of that mid-afternoon slump? Studies suggests that spending 20 minutes of fresh air gives your brain the equivalent energy of one cup of coffee. Spend part of your lunch break taking a walk instead of sitting at your desk refreshing Instagram every 30 seconds. And speaking of scrolling, did you know the average person scrolls the height of Mt. Everest every year? So let’s give those thumbs a rest, lace up those hiking boots and hit the trail instead.
3. Surround Yourself with Like-minded people
Have you ever heard the saying, “you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with?” Well, we say find five rad people to hang out with! Friends with similar interests are the best motivators for staying committed to goals. You don’t have to go on that hike alone, call up a friend to join! Studies show that adventuring or any physical activity with a group of people not only benefits your physical health, but your mental health as well. When doing something with a group of people, you’re all there for the same reasons, and there’s a special camaraderie that comes from that. You’re more motivated to push yourself once you see someone else has solved that boulder problem or paddled out through the break. Not only that, but surrounding yourself with people who have the same interests and values allows you to feel more comfortable in your own skin and there’s really no better feeling than being fully, unabashedly YOU.
4. Move Your Body
At this point, everyone should know that being active is good for your health. Physical exercise isn’t just about getting those 6-pack abs, the endorphins that come from being active have a significant impact in both your physical and mental health. Aside from lower blood pressure, lessened risk of heart disease and stroke, those endorphins are actively lifting your mood, improving your sleep and increasing the release of serotonin, which makes you happier.
5. Spend money on experiences, not things
According to the latest scientific research, more and more people are realizing the lasting benefits of spending their earnings on life experiences rather than the latest Apple Watch or new car. And while money can buy happiness, it’s only up to a certain point. Happiness from material objects dwindles over time, but the collective experiences you have become an ingrained part of your identity. Not only that, but these experiences are what bonds you to your fellow compadres out there adventuring with you. “Remember that one time we….” is your brain reminding you of just that. “Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than material goods,” says Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University. Like we mentioned before, these experiences will introduce you to new perspectives, life lessons and personal growth.
If you’re not sure where to start, check out the Adventure Aide app and explore adventures near you.