We can sometimes feel stuck in a rut, or so busy with life that it’s hard to find the motivation to make positive changes to our routine. Making a fresh start can have a huge impact on our lives, though – both for our physical and mental health. Whether it’s changing your evening habits or refreshing your home, we share a few ideas for how you can make a fresh start in life – starting now.
Here are ten ways you can to refresh your life:
1. Declutter that space
Whether it’s a messy bedroom, that cluttered corner in the sitting room, or the whole house that is getting you down, research shows you’re likely to feel calmer with a more orderly home. Organising Queen Marie Kondo, author of international bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, advises us to keep only items that ‘spark joy’ and to clear clutter by category, not by room.
Home interiors guru Jen Stanbrook, whose website and blog Love Chic Living offers advice and inspiration for creating a beautiful home, encourages a 30day declutter challenge. You can even download a handy free sheet with tasks for each day from her website. Or you could commit to a different type of 30-day declutter challenge, where you remove or recycle one item on the first day of the month, two on the second day and so on. If you do this, by the 30th you’ll have got rid of 465 items!
2. Sign up for a free course
The Open University’s OpenLearn website has a wide range of free learning options available, ranging from education and development, to history, the arts, health, sports, psychology, languages, money and business.
From forensic psychology to beginner’s Spanish, there’s bound to be something for you. If you’d like to know more about retirement planning, why not investigate our own course which is new on OpenLearn?
3. Get fit, or get fitter
There are plenty of ways to get fit throughout the year without spending money – you can begin by enjoying some fresh air and taking a walk. Download a free step-counter for your smartphone and start tracking your habits.
The Couch to 5K podcast will help you get off the sofa and be running 5km in nine weeks, if you’re feeling more energetic. Alternatively, you could browse YouTube for some of the hundreds of free online fitness classes you can do at home.
If you don’t have a smartphone, there’s no need to worry – you can always buy a cheap step counter from your local sports shop. Don’t forget to check with your doctor before embarking on any new exercise regime.
4. Book in for a health check
It’s always a good idea to make an appointment with your GP for a health check, although the run up to autumn and winter is particularly important. Practise self-care and monitor your own health and wellbeing, and make sure you’re prepared for the colder months. If you can, book a flu jab – it’s available free on the NHS to many people. Find out if you are eligible here.
5. Don’t forget your social life
It’s important to factor social interaction into your health plans. Top of the NHS’s list 5 steps to mental wellbeing is ‘Connect with other people.’
Can you organise walks with friends – with or without your furry friends? A weekly catch-up phone or video call with family members? Make contact with neighbours to help each other out, or even volunteer to support local charities and initiatives. The benefits of interacting with other people are enormous.
6. Get to grips with your finances
Financially, many of us have been badly impacted by the issues arising from the lockdown and its restrictions. It’s never been so important to have a close eye on your finances.
The obvious quick wins here are to perform a personal audit. Check if you really need all those standing orders, or defunct memberships and so on. If you’re in your 50s or 60s and thinking ahead to your post-work years, we’ve produced a free course on
7. Sort out that digital hoard
Your home may be nice and tidy, but what about your digital life? How many pictures of your beloved cat or dog do you really need? If you are already paying for cloud storage, the answer is probably ‘fewer’.
Like the clutter clearing above, commit to deleting ten unwanted emails or documents each day and hitting unsubscribe on unwanted emails. If emails and images aren’t your problem, what about clearing out all those old CDs, DVDs, or even video tapes you don’t watch anymore?
8. Snuggle down with a story
In the name of relaxation, why not pick up a book, or even download a podcast or audiobook? Research shows that reading for as little as six minutes a day can reduce your stress levels by 60%.
You can, of course, borrow books for free from your local library, and many allow you to borrow films, audiobooks, and read some magazines online for free, too.
9. Seasonalise your home and garden
Invest in a fan for the summer months, add cosy rugs and throws in winter, and consider installing some decent draught-proofing as the colder months set in. If you have a chimney and a real fire, now’s the time to get it swept, and if you can’t remember the last time your boiler was serviced, book a service now. As it starts to warm up, open the windows and let fresh air fill the house.
If you’re feeling more ambitious, what about a bit of decorating? Social media is festooned with groups where people post before and after shots of projects, and they give friendly information, too.
Outside, it might be time to prepare the garden for the colder months – or get planting bulbs and sowing seeds in spring. Have a good clear out, de-head and collect seeds ready for next year, or do some final weeding. And how does the lawn look? Could it do with some patching and a final weed?
Look at your ‘inside outside’. Tidy up sheds and conservatories, clean and store the garden furniture, and clear out the barbecue and put it away – or prepare it for plenty of summer feasts ahead. And while you’re there, check the gutters and drains, and give the windows a spring clean.
10. Prepare your wardrobe
Is it time to pack away your summer clothes and dig out the woolly jumpers? Or maybe your winter coat can be stored away for next year and it’s time to unbox your sandals. Keep decluttering in mind at the same time – did you honestly wear all the items in your wardrobe this year? Why not take this opportunity to save those things you really need for next year and lose the ones you didn’t wear. And as you unpack, do the same in reverse. Will you honestly wear it, or does it go in and out of storage each year unworn? Perhaps someone else can enjoy your preloved outfits? Time to donate them to friends or charity.
Into the kitchen and it’s time to sort through those cans, packets and containers. Check through your food cupboards and ditch things that are out of date. Defrost the freezer and tidy up all the old jars in the fridge, giving it a wipe down as you go.
Refreshing and resetting your life doesn’t have to cost money – in fact, it can save you some pennies. The value it can bring to your mental and physical health is invaluable though, giving you motivation and a new-found positive outlook.