The new year is a common time to think about self-improvement.
Luckily, there are lots of ways to better your lifestyle without throwing your daily routine out of whack.
We’ve put together a list of some relatively small changes you can make to your life right now to start living healthier.
Eat fruit instead of candy.
Candy is sweet because it contains processed sugar, usually high-fructose corn syrup. Fruit is sweet because it contains natural sugar, but it’sstill good for youbecause it’s also rich in fiber, which helpsyou digest the sugar more slowly.
Shop on a full stomach.
Studies showthat people who snack before a grocery trip buy fewer unhealthy foods, possibly because they aren’t driven to make impulse buys out of hunger.
While you’re at it, learn how to cook.
Studies have shown thatdieting doesn’t work, because cutting out entire foods only makes you want to eat more of them. Butcooking at homeis linked to eating healthier, saving money on dining out, and boosting self-esteem.
Drink your coffee black.
Studies suggest thatcoffee is good for you some even suggest that drinking three to five cups a day could lead to alonger life. Eliminating milk, cream, sugar, or flavorings will cut calories and maximize coffee’s health benefits. And don’t worry drinking black coffee won’tmake you a psychopath!
Swap the butter on your toast with mashed avocado.
Avocados are a good source of healthy fats. The fleshy green fruit is amainstay on the “superfood” list it’shigh in nutrientslike potassium, magnesium, vitamins C and E, and fiber.
Substitute your white bread with whole wheat.
Whole-wheat bread is higher in fiber than regular white bread, and fiber fills you up andhelps with digestionby slowing down the absorption of sugars.
Drink plenty of water.
You’ve heard this before, but the benefits of staying hydrated are numerous, from keeping yourbody fluids balancedto havingmore energy. Some fitness experts even claim you canlose weightif you drink water before every meal.
Pick up the pace.
Power walking won’t just get youto your destination sooner. One2013 studyof nearly 40,000 regular walkers found that slower walkers had a higher risk of dying than their more briskly paced peers.
Park farther away from your destination (or get off your bus or train one stop early).
This is an easy way to squeeze more physical activity into your daily routine. Walking burns calories, may help reduce anxiety, and evenstrengthens bones. And exercise isn’t just good for your body it can helpkeep your brain healthy, too.
Take the stairs.
This is an easy way to burn calories and tone leg muscles when you can’t find time to squeeze in a traditional workout.
Stand on one leg while brushing your teeth.
This is an easy multitasking activity that can improve your balance, which iscritical to your health, especially as you get older.
Wash and dry your hands regularly.
Washing your hands with soap and watergets rids of germs and drying off prevents the spread of bacteria, and is one of the most effective ways toprevent infection. Just make sure you aredoing it the right way.
It may smell funny, but it’s one of the best ways toprevent skin cancer. After all,you don’t want to end uplooking like this.
Wear sunglasses, too.
Sunglasses aren’t just a fashion accessory.Protecting your eyes from the sun’s UV radiationis just as important as protecting your skin, whether you’re mowing the lawn, going for a bike ride, or playing a sport outside.
Buy a plant.
Is your office kind of drab? Bringing plantsinto the office canmake you feel happier at work,according to study that monitored the effects of plantson two large commercialoffices in the UK and The Netherlands.
A good moisturizing regimen can prevent dry, flaky skin. But moisturizers comein different typesthat have varying effects, so it’s important to know what type or types you’re using.
Meditate for about 30 minutes a day.
At least adozen executives swear bythe relaxing technique.Researchsuggeststhat meditation can help you handle stress, improve memory and awareness, and lower blood pressure. One study found that people who meditatedfor 30 minutes a day, five days a week,for a month (11 hours total) sawchangesin a part of the brain involved in self-regulation.
Read a book.
Expand your knowledge, reduce stress, and briefly cut ties with the internet. A small2012 studyfound that reading about someone else’s awe-inspiring experience made people more satisfied, less stressed, and more willing to volunteer than other people.
Turn off your phone from time to time.
Occasionally unplugging mayhelp stressed individualsachieve a state of complete relaxation. It’s especially a good idea to avoid phones in the hour or so before bed, since the light fromphones can interferewith your ability to fall asleep.
Go to bed at the same time every day, even on weekends.
When you go to bed and wake up at a different time during the week and on weekends, it can lead to a phenomenon calledsocial jet lag, which can throw off your body’s natural sleep schedule.
Move your work desk near a window.
Avery small 2014 studyfound that people who worked in offices with windows did more physical activity and slept longer during the night than people in windowless offices.
Finally, nourish those close relationships.
A75-year studyby Harvard psychologists found that close relationships were the key to living happier, healthier lives. What’s more, alack of social connections could be as big a risk to your health as smoking, scientists say.