The onset of New Year's Day can come with planning perplexities. There's pressure to start the year off right, and you might be worried that if you don't do something spectacular, that could be a premonition of what’s to come. New Year’s Day—as originally founded—should be a simple holiday to reflect on the good things from years past and to set intentions for more good things in the year to come.
Though starting the new year meaningfully can feel like a burden, especially with unnecessary societal pressure, it also can be a mindful and positive experience. In an effort to pacify your New Year’s Day planning anxiety, we’ve come up with a list of 21 ideas fit for anyone in any emotional or physical (hangovers welcome) state.
Whether you're looking for a wellness retreat or need to spend the day in hibernation, as long as you do you, 2021 is yours for the taking.
Take Note of Special Days to Come
Society will tell you that New Year's Day is the perfect day to set resolutions. But if resolutions don't work for you, or if you're coming up short on identifying them, try something a little more fun. Fill out your 2021 calendar by penciling in three to four special events you're hoping to experience or know are on your agenda.
Cleanout Your Closet
Can there be anything more cathartic than purging your closet? Don’t settle for anything less than clothes that make you feel like the best version of yourself. Get rid of the old and make room for new wardrobe pieces that will go with the ever-evolving you in the New Year.
Closet cleanouts are a perfect way to start off your new year: by making a generous clothing donation to your community.
Spend Time Cooking or Baking
If you’d like to detox after the holiday binge, meal prep can the perfect way to start right. Spend time baking, chopping, and sautéeing in bulk. Make sure to include lots of greens to help ward off winter colds.
Outline Your Goals
New Year’s resolutions aren’t for everyone, but if you’re a goal setter, this day is your playground. Write out your resolutions including the dates you want to achieve them. Make sure each goal attainable and mark your calendar with progressing dates to get you there.
Plan a Feel-Good Day
While celebrating New Year’s can be joyous for some, for others it can be hard. Perhaps over this past year, life hasn’t turned out the way you’d hoped. Or maybe holidays are an especially difficult time for you (very common, by the way). If this is the case, planning a feel-good New Year’s Day can help prevent feeling down or alone.
Go for a Hike
What better way to start off a healthy new year than a calorie-burning hike up to a beautiful lookout point to dream about the year ahead.
Don’t live near any hills or hiking trails? A brisk sunset walk can be just as refreshing.
Treat Yourself to Brunch
Whether you want to have a healthy start to your day or share a mimosa with friends, a nice long breakfast or brunch—solo or with friends—is a relaxed and delightful way to start the year. Depending on what’s available, be sure to make a reservation ahead of time.
Stretch and elongate your body with an hour (or more) of yoga. It’s the perfect balance of mindful reflection and exercise to ease into the year.
Refresh Your Social Media
Update your social media accounts by editing your bios, handles, and taking down any photos you no longer want publicly seen. A quickly refined rebrand can actually be a good way to set your intentions for the year—describe both the person you are and who you strive to be. Unfollow accounts that don't bring you joy and fill your feed with positivity.
Have a Movie Marathon
Let’s admit it, if there is one day of the year that a movie marathon binge is culturally accepted, it’s New Year's Day. Cozy up with the best Netflix shows of 2020 and reminisce.
Make it a Wellness Day
Make a refreshing start to the year with a wellness day. If the spas are closed or booked up, plan a morning to evening regenerating day. Start with an easy-to-make smoothie followed by morning yoga. Spend the afternoon cooking up a healthy late brunch, taking a long nature walk followed by soaking in a hot bath, then, exhale the past year away and inhale the year to come.
As a way to lift your spirits, practice gratitude on New Year's Day. Call two friends or family members who made you feel special last year and thank them for it.
Start 2021 with one of our favorite projects from last year: a gratitude journal. Date the page and begin recounting all the things that you are grateful for. It is a great exercise for mindfulness and a positive start to your year.
Meditation can be one of the most effective helpful tools in increasing serotonin, presence, and perspective on life, so sit by your window to meditate.
If meditation doesn't work for you, simply observe the movement of the world outside or light a candle and study the flame. This can have an equally calming effect.
Pet a Few Cute Pups
Whether yours or a neighbor's, spend time with animals as they are proven to be highly therapeutic. Take your dog for a long walk or cuddle up with your cat—enjoy their simple company.
Have a Cozy Day at Home
If you can’t manage to get yourself outside, whether, for lack of warmth or energy, there are plenty of things you can do in the comfort of your own home. Cozy up with a few feel-good books or organize old photos into albums and relish in good memories.
Start a Great Book
Kick-off your year with a reading goal. Start a new book that's been crying for attention on your shelf, or browse a bookstore for something that will inspire you in the new year.
Take a Bus Ride
Sometimes watching the world operate and pass by can give a great perspective. Jump on a bus or other mode of public transportation and just see where it takes you. You may choose to get off or just ride the day away. Pay attention to the rhythm of the world around you or zone out with a great soundtrack.
Explore Your Neighborhood
Saunter throughout the day by taking a long walk, whether solo listening to an audiobook or with a good friend. Take your time re-exploring your neighborhood, people watch and move your body. A night walk can be especially regenerating for a fresh start.
Head Out for Winter Fun
Enjoy your crisp, sunny January day and try ice skating, window shopping, or snow tubing. You'll start off the year making tons of fun memories.
Spend Time Reflecting
You’ve got a whole 365 days ahead of you, so feel free to pace yourself and start the year off slowly with enjoyable yet relaxed activities.
Woodyard C. Exploring the Therapeutic Effects of Yoga and Its Ability to Increase Quality of Life. Int J Yoga. 2011;4(2):49-54. doi:10.4103/0973-6131.85485
Krishnakumar D, Hamblin MR, Lakshmanan S. Meditation and Yoga can Modulate Brain Mechanisms That Affect Behavior and Anxiety-A Modern Scientific Perspective. Anc Sci. 2015;2(1):13-19. doi:10.14259/as.v2i1.171
Beetz A, Uvnäs-Moberg K, Julius H, Kotrschal K. Psychosocial and Psychophysiological Effects of Human-Animal Interactions: The Possible Role of Oxytocin. Front Psychol. 2012;3:234. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00234