Ever been to the gym the week after New Year’s? Much like the week before spring break (aka swimsuit season), it’s packed. January brings on a burst of motivation that many of us find disappearing by, say, February. Maybe that’s because the long-term goals we set—(e.g. Exercise three times a week! Become a master at yoga!)—lack the short-term results we crave. So why not take a different approach this year and set some goals to attain right now? These quick and easy-to-incorporate strategies will have you feeling better by Friday. Sound like a lofty promise? Give it a try.
Skip the car and walk instead. Sure, the New Year is always a great time to set long-term exercise goals, but don’t underestimate the power of a quick walk. The fresh air, natural light and endorphin boost can work wonders in the short-term. And if you’re really too busy to incorporate a 20-minute walk each day, try walking when you normally wouldn’t or taking the stairs instead of an elevator.
Hug! We know it may sound cheesy, but doling out (and receiving) a few extra hugs each day is good for the soul. Science says so (we promise!): physical contact like a warm hug causes your body to release happy hormones like oxytocin that ward off depression.
Eat some superfood! Instead of all that effort towards eliminating unhealthy foods from your diet, shift the focus to adding some good stuff. Eat foods like salmon, walnuts and eggs, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and try loading up your morning cereal with some antioxidant-packed fruits like blueberries and cherries. Yummy! If you’re wondering, “Where am I going to get fresh blueberries in January?!” Just hit the freezer section. Frozen fruits and vegetables retain their peak nutritional content.
Add a deep breathing session to your daily routine. Deep breathe for at least five minutes a day, or as often as you can. Research shows that just a few minutes of deep breathing can reduce stress. And who wants stress in 2014? Lower stress levels also help fight anxiety and contribute to a better night of zzzz’s. And speaking of sleep…
Create a bedtime routine. “Getting more sleep” is often easier said than done. One tip: create a spa-like experience for yourself at bedtime. Shut off the electronics (NOT helpful for encouraging peaceful shut-eye), and turn down the energizing noise. Opt for some relaxing music instead, grab a book and make yourself a mug of hot herbal tea (no caffeine, ahem). And it helps to do all this at relatively the same time each night. Get those sleep rhythms in order, and wait for Mr. Sandman!
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