Little things you can do right now to feel happier, live longer, and even lose weight
Move Your Fruit Bowl
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Move your fruit bowl to the middle of your dining table. It not only makes a pretty centerpiece, but you're much more likely to reach for an apple when it's right there in front of you. Research shows that the average American eats less than two servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Plus, we could all use a fiber barrier between us and the ice cream cake in the freezer.
Call Your Sister
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In the famed Harvard longevity study, one of the most surprising correlations found was that people who had a good relationship with a sibling—particularly a sister—lived longer and were happier.
Cook in Cast Iron
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Swap out your Teflon or steel pans for a cast iron skillet and you'll automatically boost your iron intake, according to researchers at Columbia University. Iron is an essential nutrient for all the cells in our body. It helps transport oxygen from the lungs to all parts part of the body, including muscles. Since your muscles need iron to produce energy, if you don't have enough, you'll feel exhausted, weak, and cold. Women should aim to get 15mg iron a day, so use your cast iron skillet to prepare iron-rich foods such as lean beef, fish, and poultry.
Watch Something Funny
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A popular axiom says that babies laugh an average of 50 times a day, and while it fails to mention that they also cry 50 times a day, it's worth noting that we seem to lose some of our good humor with age. A good belly laugh releases a flood of feel-good endorphins, and all that fuzziness counteracts the bad effects of the stress hormone cortisol. What was YouTube invented for if not to make you giggle? A fast connection and plenty of bandwidth and the world is your oyster!
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Meditation’s value as a stress reliever and all around mood booster is impressive. Extensive research has proven that it can lower risk of depression, beat anxiety, and improve mental health. And it doesn’t take much. Studies show that people who practice mindful meditation (sitting quietly with your eyes closed and repeating a word or “mantra” over and over) for just 20 minutes a day has significant benefits.
If sitting and staring at your eyelids isn't for you, try moving through a couple of gentle yoga postures while you focus on your breathing.
Change Up a Simple Routine
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Hold your toothbrush with your left hand tonight. Research shows that doing small tasks like eating or writing with your non-dominant hand or tying your shoelaces backwards is like steroids for your willpower muscle.
Notice 5 New Things
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How often do we rush through our days without really seeing what's around us? Being aware of your surroundings will not only help you avoid tripping over that tree root on your trail run, but it will also help you be grateful for the little wonders in your life. So whether you're noticing the happy baby on the subway or the way the light shines off the lake, taking note of the novelty around you will sharpen your senses, keep you safe, and brighten your day.
Do Something for Someone Else
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Nothing will make you feel better faster than doing something kind for somebody else. And it does more than just make your heart feel warm and fuzzy. A 2007 study found that people who volunteer are less likely to have heart disease than those who don't. Little acts of kindness count too—take a neighbor's garbage cans back in or stick a Post-It note with a compliment on it on a coworker's computer.
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You're probably sitting down as you read this, aren't you? A recent study says that people who sit less than three hours a day live, on average, two years longer! Try standing during meetings or phone calls, catching your favorite TV shows on the treadmill, or even just setting a timer to remind you to get up and walk around during the day.
Pick a Card
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Missing your favorite spinning class or finding all the treadmills taken are no excuse for skipping your workout! Keep a deck of workout cards handy—you can make your own on 3x5 cards or use pre-made ones like these illustrated and laminated workout cards by My Trainer Fitness. Creating a quick and effective workout is as simple as shuffling the deck!