Boost your energy and stress less.
1Add more citrus to your grocery cart.
When you see all those gorgeous in-season grapefruits, oranges, clementines, and pomelos in the produce aisle, grab an armful! Winter citrus can help keep skin looking healthy thanks to vitamin C, which aids in collagen production. In fact, an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study found that people who ate foods high in C had fewer wrinkles and less age-related dry skin than those who didn’t. Try clementine sections sprinkled with pistachios or sweet grapefruit dipped in Greek yogurt for a snack.
2Eat veggies regularly.
Whether you’re slimming down or just staying well, vegetables are your friends, says Good Housekeeping‘s M.D., Dr. Mehmet Oz. He had women try 10 diets for the Great Diet Showdown episode of his show. Tiffany, who lost 31 pounds, says, “I sauté onions, peppers, mushrooms, corn — whatever I have in the freezer — and toss that on a bed of baby arugula and spinach,” she says. (Sounds delicious!)
3Book all your doctor’s visits for the year.
Open your calendar app and make your appointments for the year in one sitting — not only will you get the anxiety-inducing nuisance over with, but exams will be less likely to get squeezed out as life gets bonkers. Start with your GP, and ask which screenings (e.g., mammogram, colonoscopy) you’re due for. Slot those in, then move on to the dentist’s office, etc.
4Outsmart belly bloat.
5Share your resolutions one-on-one.
This year you’re gonna drop 10 pounds! But before you post your intent on Facebook, hold up: “Some research shows that telling others your goal makes you feel like you’ve already achieved it,” says Dr. Oz. But other studies indicate that sharing progress can help you keep going, he adds. Dr. Oz’s advice: Confide in one friend, “then share achievements with others when you’re on the road to success.”
6Become a plant owner.
Swing by the garden center after brunch this weekend. Just the presence of indoor plants can lower human stress levels, research shows, and one study found that actively caring for plants calmed the autonomic nervous system and lowered blood pressure. And when people work near plants, they report greater concentration, satisfaction, and perceived air quality.
7Do one thing at a time.
Multitasking doesn’t make you more efficient, but it does stress you out, says mindfulness expert Pedram Shojai, author of The Art of Stopping Time. “If your focus is fragmented, you’ll likely find yourself getting anxious as new items come up when old ones are still incomplete,” he says. Instead, he suggests, organize your activities into chunks of time, such as kid time and cooking time, and then “commit to being focused in that allotted time and see what happens.”
8Make your home more fragrant.
Because smell is associated with the parts of the brain that process emotion and store memories, certain aromas can affect mood, says olfactory expert Rachel Herz, Ph.D., author of The Scent of Desire. Research shows that vanilla makes people more relaxed and joyful (mmm, baking), while peppermint can boost energy and lavender can zap stress.
9Master the stairs.
Take 10 minutes to run up the stairs in your office or home. A 2017 study in the journal Physiology & Behavior found that tired women who climbed stairs for 10 minutes got a bigger energy boost than those who had the caffeine equivalent of a can of soda or half a cup of coffee (and burned calories too!).
10Decorate with family history.
In happy and long-lived cultures, people often display items from their families’ pasts, says The Blue Zones of Happiness author Dan Buettner. “They remember and honor where they come from,” he says. “We find that in happier cultures around the world, folks feel like part of a continuum.” So hang your grandparents’ wedding portrait, or put meaningful memorabilia on shelves.
11Sanitize your phone weekly.
Like, now! We check our phones 47 times a day on average, according to a recent survey from the professional services firm Deloitte, and if you’ve taken yours into the ladies’ room, you’re not the only one. But that means phones carry about 10 times as much bacteria as most toilet seats, says Charles Gerba, Ph.D., a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona, Tucson. (British researchers even found that one in six devices was contaminated with E. coli — blech!). The GH Cleaning Lab likes Lysol Disinfectant Wipes ($5 for a three-pack, amazon.com), which kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria. They don’t contain bleach, so they’re safe to use on smartphones and tablets (but double-check your phone manufacturer’s recs).
12Plan a vacation.
Women who vacation at least twice a year have a lower heart attack risk than those do so rarely. And researchers have found that even thinking about an upcoming trip can boost happiness for weeks. REI’s Outessa weekend retreats for women are relaxing and active: Enjoy sunrise yoga, kayaking, rock climbing, and hiking with your crew.
13Start doing yoga with your partner.
A Sunday morning couples’ class could make Sunday afternoon much more fun. Experts at Loyola’s Sexual Wellness Clinic believe partner yoga helps couples get more comfortable with each other’s bodies, a boon for better sex. Solo yoga can increase enjoyment as well, affecting arousal, desire, and satisfaction — the practice helps relax your mind and strengthen pelvic muscles.
14Listen to novels while you workout.
Exercisers who saved an audiobook for the gym worked out 51% more often than those who didn’t, per a study in Management Science. Sweat while listening to an intense thriller like The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, and the treadmill time will fly by.
15Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is also the National Day of Service, so it’s a great time to volunteer to clean up a park or help at an animal shelter. And research shows that pitching in regularly can lead to less stress and lower blood pressure. So use this day to jumpstart a longer-term personal commitment. We recommend a community message board or Facebook group that can help you connect with others nearby.
Feeling sore? Clients at The Spa at Rancho Valencia in Rancho Santa Fe, California, switch between 10 minutes in a hot sauna and 30 seconds in a 60°F bath, a treatment known as hydrotherapy. “The drastic temperature change increases blood flow and flushes out lactic acid,” says spa director Kristi Dickinson, making them feel energized. Research suggests that hydrotherapy may aid in muscle recovery more than a day of rest. For at-home treatment, end a hot shower with a burst of ice-cold water.
Plyometric exercises — like burpee push-ups — get you fast results, says GH fitness partner Jillian Michaels:
1. Squat and place hands on floor (as shown).
2. Jump feet into plank.
3. Drop chest to ground and perform a push-up.
4. Jump feet forward into squat position.
5. Jump up, reaching hands over head, and repeat sequence for 30 seconds. Rest. Do two more sets.
Make it easier: Step back instead of jumping and do push-up on knees.
18Delegate more chores.
Money can’t buy happiness — but it can buy time, which is the next best thing. A large 2017 study found that people who spent money on time-saving services, such as using GH Lab-tested TaskRabbit to get someone to clean out the garage, obtained greater life satisfaction and happiness than those who shelled out for material goods. If money is tight, take on the least favorite chore of a friend and have her do the same for you.
19Keep clutter out of the kitchen.
If you can hardly see your counters through all the papers, Post-its, and not-yet-put-away groceries, you may pay for that chaos on the scale. In one study, researchers found that when women were surrounded by clutter, they tended to eat more cookies — especially when stressed. Take 20 minutes to whisk it all where it belongs, and you may eat more mindfully in days to come.
20Explore new hobbies.
Another sleepy Sunday? Today’s the day you try Ethiopian food, attend a ballet, or take a painting class — whatever feels fun. When researchers followed 7,500 people for 25 years, they found that those who complained of major boredom were roughly twice as likely to die from heart disease.
21Play upbeat music.
Blasting any happy-making tune can work multiple mind-body wonders including reducing pain during exercise, elevating mood, and lowering stress, research shows. So make a playlist — any songs that oat your spirit will do the job.
22Take back your lunch break.
If you scarf your sammie at your desk while skimming the web, you’re in good company: Only one in five Americans actually takes a lunch break, according to a survey, even though doing so has been linked to increased productivity. Grab a copy of Gone for Lunch by Laura Archer, a pocket-size guide featuring 52 fun ways to spend your midday hiatus, from scoping out cool architecture to making a film on your smartphone to getting your steps in for 30 minutes.
23Donate old clothes.
Bye-bye, too-tight jeans. “Keeping smaller clothes as motivation to slim down is baloney,” says Kit Yarrow, Ph.D., a psychologist at Golden Gate University, “and it tends to backfire.” Studies show that muffin-top shaming doesn’t help, but focusing on being healthy does. After doing your Goodwill drop-off, take a lighter-cooking class or meet a pal for a hike.
24Write to yourself.
When your inner critic picks up her bullhorn, jot down the kind words you’d say to a friend in the same situation. “We have such a hard time channeling compassion for ourselves,” says Emma Seppala, Ph.D., of Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research. “Writing it down makes it easier to shift perspective.”
25Shop for new sneakers.
Check out these GH Wellness Lab tips to start 2018 on the right foot.
Shop in the p.m. When feet are slightly swollen, it’s easier to find the right size and avoid pinchy shoes.
Bring your old pair. Staff at specialty stores can assess which areas are most worn so as to suggest a pair with appropriate support for your gait.
Do squats. Lace up and do a couple of knee bends. If the shoes are properly supportive, your knee should move over your foot, not inward.
26Go to bed on time, with your partner.
Getting sufficient zzz’s can make you feel ready for action. A study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that women who got more sleep had more desire the next day and an overall easier time becoming aroused. Every additional hour they slept increased their likelihood of having sex by 14%. So skip late-night web searches and hit the hay.3
27Treat yourself to affordable facials.
Give your skin a spa-level nutrient infusion. Yes to Coconut Moisturizing DIY Power-to-Clay Mask ($1.32, target.com) comes with a mini mixing bowl and a spatula. Just add avocado (to moisturize), yogurt (to soothe), honey (to smooth), or green tea (to reduce redness). As the clay dries, it draws dirt and oil from skin. More pampering? Yes, please!