7 ways to trick your brain into making a fresh start — without changing anything big

Is it just us or does everyone get that “back-to-school,” fresh start, “it’s a whole new year” sort of feeling towards the end of summer? Maybe it’s because most of us spent at least 12 years of our lives getting ready for something new each fall we headed back to school. Whether it was just the fresh notebooks, new outfits, or homeroom crushes, the end of summer feels more like the start of a new year than actual New Years for a lot of people well into adulthood. You might not be going back to school anymore, but there are some small things to make you feel like you’re getting a fresh start without having to do something crazy, like quit your job and sail around the world or something (although that doesn’t like a bad idea, either).

Good idea or not, adult responsibilities make it hard to make huge life changes all at once, but switching it up now and again is always highly recommended. According to research done at the University of Pennsylvania, it’s actually better to start fresh at random times, rather than at a huge “temporal landmark,” like New Year’s, a birthday, or even the first Monday of the month.

So right damn now, time is already right to make little tweaks to start fresh. Here are a few ways to do that.

1Rearrange your furniture.

Spend a Saturday doing a super deep cleaning in your room or living room. But don’t stop there: Maybe try putting your bed up against a different wall, or rethinking your bookshelves. If you can swing it, treat yourself to a cool lamp or area rug. Even just getting your home in order and moving the dust around will make you feel like a whole new person.

2Buy a planner.

Is there any better feeling than a fresh AF planner or journal? (Yes, there is, but new notebooks are high up on the list.) Even if it’s the middle of the year, buy a new calendar or planner or way to organize your thoughts. Yes, you might give up on it after a month, but for a short, beautiful, fleeting time, you’ll feel like you got this whole thing down.

3Do a social media purge.

Dedicate some actual time to going through your social networks and deleting people who are offensive, annoying, or simply bore you. If you haven’t talked to someone in years and their cat pics don’t come with hilarious captions, they have to go.

4Clean your closet.

Cleaning your closet is a great way to feel like you’re starting fresh. Throw out things that you can’t give away or are totally worn out, and gather the rest to donate. If you’re feeling festive, invite your friends over for a clothing swap — where everyone brings a few things they don’t wear anymore — or to just dig through your stuff. Fold and hang everything that’s left nice and proper. Ah, doesn’t that feel good?

5Get a new extracurricular activity.

You know you’ve been meaning to try that spin class or volunteer at a non-profit for literally ages. Now that you have a new planner, you can see exactly how it fits into your schedule and pull the trigger on actually signing up for it.

6Organize your fridge.

This is sort of similar to cleaning your closet, but it’s a lot easier to purge that year-old Sriracha bottle than it is to finally toss that pair of Levis you haven’t worn since college. Just clear half an hour out of your day, and empty out your fridge and pantry. Give everything a solid rinse and then refill those bad boys with the stuff you actually can actually eat and use. Until the leftovers start to pile up again, you’ll love opening up the fridge or pantry and actually finding what you need.

7Get your digital life in order.

With so many devices, it’s hard to keep things up-to-date all the time. Whatever your weakness is, go through and clear some megabytes. Delete contacts you don’t use, old screenshots that have somehow synched up to your laptop, and upload everything on your desktop to the cloud. Ugh, it feels cleansing to even read those words, doesn’t it? It’ll feel exponentially better to actually do it.

Whatever you decide to do, a small change can have a tremendous effect on your mental health. Happy New You!

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