Leading a healthy lifestyle shouldn’t feel more complicated than a mission to the Moon. Make these simple changes to your daily routine to be healthier and happier like it was second nature.
Tame stress by checking email less. Shut off your “new mail” notification. A study from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver found that when participants were only allowed to check their email three times a day, they felt significantly less stressed than when they could peek in their inbox at any time. If you’re worried you’ll miss something urgent, tell friends and coworkers to call or instant message you if something truly needs an ASAP response.
Don’t shop on an empty stomach. Grabbing groceries on your way home from work? Eat a healthy snack first. A study in JAMA Internal Medicine asked people to fast for 5 hours, gave some of them a snack, and then had everyone grocery shop online. The hungry people purchased significantly more high-calorie foods than did their satiated counterparts.
Lay off the snooze button. Grabbing a few more minute in the sack may feel blissful, but you’re setting yourself up for an even ruder awakening. When you fall back asleep after waking up, you’re plunging into a new REM cycle. When you finally have to drag yourself out of bed just a few minutes later, you’ll feel even foggier, according to a study in the journal Sleep. The multiple wake-ups also throw off your natural rhythm; your body gets confused as to when it should really wake up. Try setting your alarm for when you actually throw back the covers, so your last few minutes of sleep will be even more restful.
Stick to the paper towels. It might make the trees happy, but that hot air hand dryer in the bathroom could be spreading icky germs. Researchers at the University of Leeds found that the amount of germs in the air near where people were drying their hands was nearly 27 times greater when jet air dryers were used, compared to paper towels. The increased germ count was even seen a few feet away—well within “waiting for the next open stall” distance. Your best option: Grab a paper towel and hightail it out of there.
Eat your lunch in the park. Spending a little quality time with natureimproves your mood. Researchers at Stanford University had one group of people take a stroll through tree-lined fields, while another group walked along a busy street. The nature group said they obsessed less over the things that typically bummed them out, and brain scans revealed they even experienced reduced neural activity in an area of the brain linked to higher risk of mental illness.
Use a smaller plate. What happens when you eat off a big plate? You fill it up, of course. When diners at a Chinese buffet were given large plates to serve themselves, they ate 45 percent more food than people with smaller plates. While you can’t pick your dishware while eating out, at home it’s smart to serve up your entree on a salad plate. Chances are the smaller serving will be satisfying enough, but you can always go back for seconds if you’re still hungry.