Riley Heruska
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January might be the month of goal setting and self-improvement, but not every goal has to be monumental. In fact, some of the smallest changes you can make in your life can reap the biggest benefits. If you feel overwhelmed by deciding on a New Year's resolution, consider working on building these ten small habits in your life. You might be surprised by how happy, productive, and accomplished you start to feel. 

1. Work on expressing gratitude. You can do this however you like. Some people prefer simply picking one part of their day to be grateful for as they get ready for bed. Others like to share their gratitude with a partner. Recent studies have indicated that people who keep gratitude journals on at least a weekly basis have been found to be more optimistic and happier overall than those who do not. 

2. Make your bed and tidy up your bedroom right after you wake up. This chore might sound a bit unimportant, but it truly can make a substantial difference in your day-to-day stress levels and general wellbeing. Ever heard the phrase "tidy home, tidy mind"? Well, this is a great way to start your daily routine with a sense of accomplishment and organization.  

3. Change your sheets once a week. Given that the average person spends about 56 hours in their bed each week, your bedding certainly deserves a little TLC every seven days. Sweat, dust, fungi, and bacteria can all cling to over-used sheets, so don't skip this chore, even if it is a hassle. If you start changing your sheets regularly, you might even notice reduced allergy symptoms, clearer skin, and better sleep

4. Drink enough water every day. Many studies believe that at least 75 percent of the American population fails to drink enough water on a regular basis. That means most of us are probably experiencing some of the symptoms of dehydration, including dry skin, unhealthy food cravings, headaches, and a slow metabolism. To figure out how much water you should be drinking each day, take your weight and divide it by two. That's how many ounces of H2O you should be trying to gulp before your day ends. 

5. Set aside time to read or listen to audiobooks. Although there's nothing wrong with the occasional Netflix binge, scientific research has shown that reading regularly can reduce cognitively decline, make you more empathetic, and sharpen your mind. Plus, the pages of books or the soothing voice of a narrator are much easier on your eyes than the harsh light of your electronic screens. 

6. Call or meet up with someone you love at least once a week. In the hustle and bustle of regular life, it can be difficult to set aside time to play catch up with old friends and family. This year, try to pick one time each week that you use to make a phone call to someone you love. If you'd rather meet in person, select a day where you meet someone for lunch. 

7. Buy a fun photo display and switch the pictures out once in a while. Filling your living area with photos of places and people you love is a wonderful way to cultivate a comfortable, happy environment. Although printing photos might feel like a chore at first, the effort is well worth the joy of having smiling faces and beautiful scenes hanging in your home. 

8. Try to wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. Roughly a third of the American population is not getting enough sleep each night, and many sleep experts believe this is because we have such terrible sleep habits. In 2018, try to get your biological clock back on track by climbing in and out of bed at the same time every day. This will help you fall asleep quicker and feel more refreshed when you wake up in the morning. 

9. Find the type of meditation that works best for you. It's no secret that meditation is a powerful tool when it comes to establishing a happy, positive lifestyle. Science has indicated that if practiced regularly, it can reduce chronic pain, boost your immune system, decrease stress and anxiety, combat depression, and leave you feeling emotionally stronger. Now, this doesn't mean you have to mutter "ohm" to yourself in a quiet room for an hour each day. Try yoga, deep breathing, and other forms of relaxation to help you achieve the same results. There are even apps that can help you discover the best form of meditation for your personality. 

10. Embrace physical activity as often as you can. According to recent statistics, less than five percent of all American adults get the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity each day. That means our hearts are weakening, our metabolisms are slowing down, and our general wellbeing is taking a serious hit. Do whatever you can to squeeze in that valuable half hour of exercise. Dash up the stairs, hit the gym, swim, dance, or simply take a long walk. The important thing is to get moving as often as possible. The endorphins will make you a happier person overall, and the additional health benefits will keep your body in tip-top condition. 

What other healthy habits do you rely on to give you a happiness boost? Leave suggestions in the comments below! 

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