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Embracing the New Year — Ten Ways to Start 2020 Off the Right Way

At the beginning of a new year, a lot of people make an overwhelming list of resolutions they want to keep. However, instead of drastic suggestions, we’ve compiled a list of simple and fun things that are easy to do to help you start off your year in a positive way — let’s beat the January blues!

A new year can be a refreshing time and a wanted relief for some, with the opportunity of new beginnings. Most people choose this time of the year to remember the lessons they learned from the mistakes made in the previous year while also focusing on what they have gained and achieved. Unfortunately, there can be a lot of pressure in January and February to make drastic changes in your life. Everywhere you look, there are articles on how to make this year the best year yet. These can be motivational, but they can also put a lot of pressure on you to set unachievable goals for the upcoming year.

On top of this, the holiday season is over, and the weather is bleak for those in the Northern Hemisphere, making it difficult to stay upbeat. As an expat, you might have spent the holiday season at home and so saying your goodbyes to those nearest and dearest to you can be difficult. Take a look at our suggestions of things to do as a pick-me-up for the new year.

Catch Up with Friends

It may seem like a simple idea but over the course of the year, things crop up and schedules of friends can be difficult to match up with your own. Living abroad as an expat can make it even harder to stay in contact with old friends, especially if there is a time difference. Make the effort to contact some of them again this year.

Not only does it give you something to look forward to, it also allows you to rekindle friendships that you used to value a lot. Even something simple like going for a coffee or taking a walk in your local park with a friend can be that mid-week pick-me-up that you need to boost your mood. For those friends who don’t live nearby, find a time to FaceTime or Skype so that you can catch up with them.

Write a Gratitude List

Writing a list of things you are grateful for might seem like a cliché but it can really help you change your current mindset and outlook on life in general. It can be easy to focus on the negatives of your personal situation, so reflecting on three things every day that you are grateful for can help you recognize the good which is in your life right now.

Especially while living abroad, it can be challenging to face bad times when you’re not with your family. By writing a gratitude list every day, you can learn to appreciate even the little things, and not just the big accomplishments. When you’re having a bad day, you can look back at previous gratitude lists you’ve made to put things into perspective.

Make Travel Plans

Whether it’s a weekend getaway in Europe or a summer vacation in Asia, making plans to visit somewhere new can be the motivation you need to spur you on. The excitement of making plans with a friend, partner, or even on your own is a great mood booster. The world really is your oyster and there are so many destinations across the globe worth visiting. As an expat, you might be new to the country and this provides the perfect opportunity for you to visit new destinations on weekends — make a list of places you want to explore and start putting plans into action.

Declutter Your Home

It might sound like a basic idea but after having a busy festive season, organizing and decluttering your home is a good way to start the year. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or needing a distraction, cleaning and tidying is a therapeutic yet productive pastime. As an expat, returning from Christmas at home with close friends and family might leave you at a loose end. Therefore, decluttering encourages you to put things in order which can then help your thoughts become less scattered, too. This also makes life a lot easier, as a well-kept space saves you a lot of time when you’re looking for things — you might even find some lost treasures that you forgot you had.

Listen to a Podcast

There a variety of podcasts to choose from out there, on a range of different topics. Instead of listening to music, it can be comforting to hear another person’s voice, especially on those days when you’re feeling a little lonely. The topics discussed in podcasts are interesting, relevant, and often quite entertaining. Podcasts are also easy listening, so you can always put one on in the background. Simply play a podcast on your commute to work or while washing the dishes and you might just learn something new.

Visit a Museum or Gallery

If you’ve recently moved to a new city and find yourself with nothing to do on a Sunday afternoon, then visiting a museum or art gallery is the perfect way to spend it. The majority of these places are cheap to enter or sometimes even free. There are few better ways to spend your free time than going with a friend or alone to enjoy the local arts and culture of your new home and help you unwind.

Refresh Your Wardrobe

This may seem like the stereotypical New Year’s resolution, where people tend to try out crazy styles and radically change their hairstyle. However, treating yourself to some new clothes which are perhaps a little out of your comfort zone or even finding clothes you had forgotten about is a fun way to refresh your style. Putting together some nice outfits which make you feel confident is an instant mood booster and will make you more enthusiastic while you’re getting ready for the day. It’s important to remember that little things do add up and can really help you to have a positive attitude towards the day ahead. This is particularly relevant for expats, who initially feel lost starting out in a new place. Planning outfits helps you gain some control and organization in your life.

Learn a New Language

Learning a new language is a challenge, requiring both time and patience. Although, if you’re an expat, this may be the most worthwhile suggestion for you. There are so many mobile apps, online learning tools, and most likely a number of language schools in your local area — you might as well make the most of the tools available to you!

Being able to speak the language of your new home will help you settle in a lot more easily and quickly. Even simple tasks such as shopping for groceries will take half of the time. Also, the process of learning a language is both fun and rewarding, making it a very valuable challenge.

Cook Dinner with Friends

For some people, cooking can be an enjoyable pastime which relaxes them. For others, it can cause more stress and hassle than it’s worth. However, with some friends around to cook together and learn a new recipe and spending time in the kitchen can be lots of fun, even for those who usually do not enjoy it. Having an entertaining evening with your friends can be a real pick-me-up and even a way to bond with each other.

Get Involved in Your Local Community

When you have some spare time and want to become more active and involved in your local community, have a look online at any local events. From weekend markets to local festivals, there is sure to be something going on nearby. If you want to meet new people, joining groups such as a local sports club or a book club are great ways to network and meet some new faces. Those who are passionate about helping their local community can get involved in a number of different volunteering opportunities such as working in a soup kitchen.

Whatever you decide to do to start the new year, remember to not put too much pressure on yourself. New goals are an effective way to motivate yourself, but they can also make you feel like a failure if you can’t achieve them. Ultimately, the most important things to focus on are staying healthy and being happy!



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Jürgen Hofmeister

"When I came to Moscow I barely knew anyone, but now I've got dozens of expat contacts from dozens of countries. "

Chen Ming

"I had my first "mass" of Oktoberfest beer at the InterNations event for the Munich expat community - thank you, InterNations! :) "

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