Tag: motivational issues

40 little things to feel happy In daily life

40 little things to feel happy In daily life

What makes you happy? Apparently it really is the little things in life that make us happy, according to research by DoubleTree involving 2,000 adults.

It may surprise you to learn humans are generally optimistic, with over half of the adults saying they have a “glass half full” attitude to life, and 56% describing themselves as particularly happy.

Over a quarter said a few little things will cheer them up, and the research determined that little surprises provide us with the greatest amount of happiness, with 82% saying the best things in life are unexpected.

Dr. Glenn Williams, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Nottingham Trent University said: “An effective route to happiness is not necessarily through experiencing major events that we might have planned out such as getting married, moving house, getting that all-important promotion, or even being on a holiday.”

“Rather it is the small, and often unexpected, pleasures in life that can make us smile each and every day to help us build happier and more meaningful lives for ourselves and for others.”

40 little things to feel happy In daily life

40 Daily Life Happiness Sources

Check out 40 little things in daily life that bring us true happiness.

  1. Finding money in your pocket that you didn’t know you had.

  2. Being asked by someone who cares how you are doing.

  3. Climbing into bed when you have fresh sheets.

  4. Taking an extra-long bath or shower when you have some free time.

  5. Smiling at a child you see in public.

  6. Receiving a 10 minute massage from your partner or friend.

  7. Cuddling someone before you have to get up and start your day.

  8. Waking up and realizing it is a sunny, beautiful day.

  9. Having a long phone conversation with someone you care about and haven’t spoken to in a while.

  10. Watching the rain fall when you have nowhere to be, and you can curl up on the sofa.

  11. Watching children playing and laughing together, reminding you of the joy in the world.

  12. Spending some time with your pets – or animals in general!

  13. A stranger giving you a genuine smile.

  14. Having a nice, long stretch when you first wake up to get your body moving.

  15. Laughing out loud at a funny memory.

  16. A gesture of kindness from someone in your life – as simple as your child helping you cook dinner.

  17. A smell you love, from baked bread to a freshly mowed lawn.

  18. A meaningful, long hug from somebody you care about.

  19. Putting on clothes after they have been warmed on the radiator.

  20. Taking a few moments alone when things get hectic.

  21. Watching the sunset or the sunrise.

  22. The smell outside after the rain has stopped.

  23. Listening to your favorite artist or album.

  24. Receiving an email or a letter from a friend.

  25. The chance to be creative, from painting an old set of drawers to doodling a picture.

  26. Holding hands with someone you love.

  27. Eating your breakfast in bed.

  28. Playing a game you used to love when you were younger.

  29. Eating healthy, tasty food that makes you feel good about yourself.

  30. An extra half an hour to snooze in bed.

  31. Having some time to yourself to read a book you love.

  32. Buying your favorite drink or snack and savoring it.

  33. Receiving flowers from someone who cares about you.

  34. Eating your lunch outside in the sun.

  35. Trying out a new recipe and creating something delicious.

  36. A gesture of support from your friends or family.

  37. Listening to a song you used to love and haven’t heard in years.

  38. Taking the time to help someone with their problems.

  39. Spending time in your home when it is tidy and clean.

  40. Achieving a small victory, like fixing the washing machine or replacing a light bulb.

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Use your mind to be a happier person

Use your mind to be a happier person

These mental tweaks help cheery types live longer, stay healthier, and even look younger.

Fret Less

To banish worries, put stressors on paper. Writing them down and stashing the note in a “worry jar” (or a drawer) makes it easier to compartmentalize and move on, says Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., a psychologist in Washington, D.C. Limiting anxiety is healthy. A surfeit of the stress hormone cortisol may lead to chronic pain, depression, cognitive issues and even heart problems, potentially shortening your life. Not to mention that constant worry is no fun.

Keep Your Sunny Side Up

Optimists live longer, plain and simple. In a 15-year study of more than 100,000 women, cheery types were 14 percent less likely to die in an eight-year period than gloomy gals were, the National Institutes of Health Women’s Health Initiative finds. To change your thinking, visualize a happy moment: “Imagining yourself in a hammock on the beach can have an immediate, relaxing effect on the body that makes it more difficult to stay focused on the negative,” Bonior says.

If All Else Fails, Take a Nap

When life starts getting you down, catch 40 winks. If you’re stressed out, a 45-minute daytime snooze may lower your blood pressure, a study from Allegheny College reports. Siestas also help you catch up on much-needed sleep. That’s crucial, because chronic sleep deprivation can cause aging at the cellular level. So give yourself permission to nap like a kid. We predict you’ll start feeling like one, too.

Your Relaxation Rx

Which mind / body treatments have the most rock-solid science backing them up? Brent Bauer, M.D., director of the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, provides the big picture.

For: Back pain Try: Yoga
For: High cholesterol Try: Qigong
For: Depression Try: Music therapy, qigong, yoga
For: Eating disorders Try: Meditation, yoga
For: Fertility Try: Visualization, yoga
For: Heart health Try: Deep breathing, qigong, yoga
For: Immunity Try: Breathing, chants, meditation, qigong
For: Insomnia Try: Acupuncture, visualization, yoga
For: Joint pain Try: Music therapy, qigong, yoga
For: Migraines Try: Acupuncture, yoga

The Science

The latest cutting-edge research proves your mind can heal your body. Here’s how:

Your body dials down stress. Dr. Benson’s research has found that mind/body practices—meditation, yoga, tai chi, deep breathing, visualization—all elicit the relaxation response, quelling the release of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Your heart slows, blood pressure falls and digestion eases.

The relaxation response causes cells to release micropuffs of nitric oxide, a gas that dilates blood vessels and stabilizes the immune system, Dr. Benson reported in Medical Science Monitor. Mind/body methods worked as well as drugs designed to do the same thing, without the side effects.

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The anytime, anywhere workout

The anytime, anywhere workout

Seventeen Magazine beauty editor, Annmarie lverson, reveals her own very personal fitness routine-one that you can do when and where you like.

1. Warm Up

Okay, I admit it. I do work out almost everyday. And no, I’m not crazy. I’m just really interested in feeling distressed and looking streamlined in my clothes. But I also have to admit I wasn’t always a jock.

In high school (in Wisconsin, where I’m from) I never had the nerve to try out for volleyball or cheerleading. College at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee was the same story-no intramural sports, no rahrah activities. But in freshman-required PE, I discovered that being in shape didn’t depend on making the team, scoring big points, or showing up for practices.

Instead, the instructor showed me how to become my own personal trainer and create my own routine. How easy is it? You just do an aerobic activity to get your heart going and calisthenics to tone and shape your entire body. You can do it alone, or with a friend. So here’s the workout that works for me… where I want, when I want.

You have to ease your body into a workout. All it takes is TEN MINUTES of nonstop brisk walking, easy jogging, or cycling. Your PORTABLEGYM should include a Jump rope, resistance bands, weights (one to three pounds) and sport shoes.

2. Stretch

Go directly from the warm-up to stretches while your muscles are still warm and you have a maximum range of motion.

1 Sit on ground with legs spread to sides. “Walk” hands out from body as far as is comfortable. (If you exercise with a friend, you can ease each other into a stretch by putting your feet together and clasping hands.)

2 While still sitting, place soles of feet together. Grasp ankles with hands, and use elbows to push knees toward ground. Don’t bounce-just press up and down gently.

3 While standing, wrap a band (or a towel) across up per back, and pull while TWISTING torso from left to right until movement feels easy.

4 Slide band up, behind shoulders, and pull shoulders from side to side.

3. Aerobic

This is the key calorie-burning, fattrimming part of the workout. The trick is to get your heart rate up to an aerobic level for about twenty minutes. Do this with one activity (like running, cycling, or swimming) or do a COMBINATION of two or more activities.

1 Jump back and forth over a friend or a small table. Jumping in the air exerts an amazing amount of ENERGY and sends the heart rate up-just be sure to keep up the pace.

2 When you jump rope, keep feet together and shoulders relaxed. Jump just high enough to clear the rope.

Related Link: Beauty, Health, Fitness & Family

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Hit the Road, Girls

Hit the Road, Girls

Sportsmen who include running in their fitness program may wonder what longterm effect the pounding will have on their weight-bearing joints. Isn’t there a danger that the wear and tear on the joints could ultimately result in cartilage damage, arthritis and other problems?

Actually, the latest research indicates just the opposite: Runners develop healthier, denser bones than nonrunners and appear to have a lower incidence of wear-and-tear arthritis and osteoarthritis in the knees and hips.

The Stanford Arthritis Center in Stanford, California, conducted a study recently comparing 41 veteran runners and 41 nonrunners. The people in both groups ranged in age from 50-72. The purpose of the study was to determine whether long-term running produces a healthy heart but a worn-out skeletal system.

Hit the Road, Girls

Researchers found that the runners displayed no sign of cartilage loss in the joints and actually had slightly more joint space than nonrunners. Which is desirable, since decreased joint space is perhaps the most notable feature of osteoarthritis. Also, both male and female runners had 40% greater bone density than nonrunners. Which is desirable again, since loss of bone density is a sign of bone weakening.

At least two other studies have produced similar results, proving that our knees and hips not only stand up to the stress of running but seem to almost thrive on it!

Source: Muscle & Fitness Magazine

Related Link: Beauty, Health, Fitness & Family

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Are you a caffeine addict?

Are you a caffeine addict?

You may love caffeine’s feel-good effects, but overdosing can harm your health. Here’s how to tell if you’re overdoing it

You know you’re a caffeine addict when your eyes won’t open before you’ve taken your first sip of morning Joe, or if your co-workers call you “Crabby” when you skip your afternoon Diet Coke. While the best part of waking up may indeed be Folgers in your cup, being over-caffeinated may also be harmful. “Studies have found that some caffeine can improve mental acuity and performance throughout the day, but too much caffeine can negatively impact your mood, energy, and even health,” says Erin Palinski, RD, CDE, CPT, who has a private practice in New Jersey.

Enjoying a latte probably won’t hurt you, and may even have surprising health benefits such as lowering your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Just keep in mind that—as with most delicious things in life—it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

“Some research has linked high doses of coffee to infertility and increased risk of hip fractures in older women,” says Keri M. Gans, MS, RD, CDN and author of The Small Change Diet. “If you stop drinking coffee abruptly, you may experience irritability, fatigue, headaches, and even depression.”

So how much caffeine is too much? The American Dietetic Association recommends having no more than 300 mg a day, or the amount in about two or three 8-ounce cups of coffee. Even if you’re not a java lover, you may be getting caffeine from sneaky sources unknowingly: Sports drinks, supplements, and even certain medications contain caffeine. Sneaky sources of caffeine include:

• 2 tablets Excedrin for headaches; 130 mg
• Vital Energy water; 150 mg
• 16-ounce Snapple ice tea; 42 mg
• 1 cup Ben & Jerry’s No Fat Fudge Frozen Yogurt; 85 mg
• 1 cup Dannon Coffee Yogurt; 45 mg
• Barq’s Root Beer; 22 mg
• Hershey’s chocolate bar, 12 mg
For perspective, one 8-ounce cup of coffee can have anywhere from 125 to 150 mg.

While caffeine’s effects may be different for different people, here are some common warning signs that you may have overdosed.

1. You hit an afternoon slump.

If you can’t get through the day without a Diet Coke fix, you may be hooked on the caffeine. “There is about as much caffeine in one can of Diet Coke as there is in a shot of espresso,” says David J. Clayton, MD, author of The Healthy Guide to Unhealthy Living. Having a few cans a day could leave you feeling high, and then low when you come down from the caffeine buzz.” Besides triggering major dips in energy, the acidity in soda can damage tooth enamel if sipped daily. Limit your Diet Cokes to one a day to avoid hitting a wall in the afternoon, and brush your teeth if possible after drinking soda to help reduce its enamel-eroding effects.

2. You’re peeing orange.

Urine that is dark yellow or orange is a telltale sign of dehydration. “Coffee is actually a diuretic that can lead to dehydration by increasing the amount you urinate so you lose too much body fluids,” says Amy Gross, MPH, RD, CDN and a clinical dietician at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Caffeine usually doesn’t trigger dehydration until after you’ve had about 500 mg, so you should be safe if you stick to a cup or two of coffee a day.

3. You can’t sleep.

“Caffeine takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour to get absorbed and has a very long half-life, meaning it lingers in the body for several hours and can affect your sleep cycle,” says Molly Morgan, R.D., owner of Creative Nutrition Solutions in Vestal, New York, and author of The Skinny Rules. If it takes you longer than 30 minutes to doze off at night, you might try cutting out caffeine once the clock strikes 12 p.m. to see if it helps you get more restful sleep. That applies to all caffeine-containing substances: Sipping green or Chai tea may be a sleep stealer, too, because both beverages contain caffeine. Also keep in mind that decaf coffee and decaf tea are not caffeine-free: both have about one-third the amount of caffeine as the regular kind.

4. You feel anxious.

Sweaty palms, a racing heart, restlessness, and feeling jittery are all clues that you’ve overdosed on caffeine. “Caffeine can exacerbate stress and depression because it interferes with a tranquilizing neurotransmitter chemical in the brain called adenosine,” says Palinski. Caffeine can also act as a stimulant that triggers the adrenal gland to excrete more stress hormones like adrenaline, which can increase heart rate, making you feel more anxious.

5. You have heartburn.

Acid reflux happens when the muscle at the end of the esophagus, known as the lower esophageal sphincter, allows food and stomach acid to come back up, causing a burning feeling under your chest. If this happens to you, caffeine could be a culprit. “Caffeine relaxes esophageal sphincter, which allows acid to come up in the throat,” says Gross. Try cutting out caffeine altogether to see if it soothes your throat.

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8 daily habits that will make you happier

8 daily habits that will make you happier

Making this your first thought when you wake up can make a big difference in your day.

Happiness is the only true measure of personal success. Making other people happy is the highest expression of success, but it’s almost impossible to make others happy if you’re not happy yourself. With that in mind, here are nine small changes that you can make to your daily routine that, if you’re like most people, will immediately increase the amount of happiness in your life:

1. Start each day with expectation. If there’s any big truth about life, it’s that it usually lives up to (or down to) your expectations. Therefore, when you rise from bed, make your first thought: “something wonderful is going to happen today.” Guess what? You’re probably right.

2. Take time to plan and prioritize. The most common source of stress is the perception that you’ve got too much work to do. Rather than obsess about it, pick one thing that, if you get it done today, will move you closer to your highest goal and purpose in life. Then do that first.

3. Give a gift to everyone you meet. I’m not talking about a formal, wrapped-up present. Your gift can be your smile, a word of thanks or encouragement, a gesture of politeness, even a friendly nod. And never pass beggars without leaving them something. Peace of mind is worth the spare change.

4. Deflect partisan conversations. Arguments about politics and religion never have a “right” answer but they definitely get people all riled up over things they can’t control. When such topics surface, bow out by saying something like: “Thinking about that stuff makes my head hurt.”

5. Assume people have good intentions. Since you can’t read minds, you don’t really know the “why” behind the “what” that people do. Imputing evil motives to other people’s weird behaviors adds extra misery to life, while assuming good intentions leaves you open to reconciliation.

6. Eat high quality food slowly. Sometimes we can’t avoid scarfing something quick to keep us up and running. Even so, at least once a day try to eat something really delicious, like a small chunk of fine cheese or an imported chocolate. Focus on it; taste it; savor it.

7. Let go of your results. The big enemy of happiness is worry, which comes from focusing on events that are outside your control. Once you’ve taken action, there’s usually nothing more you can do. Focus on the job at hand rather than some weird fantasy of what might happen.

8. End each day with gratitude. Just before you go to bed, write down at least one wonderful thing that happened. It might be something as small as a making a child laugh or something as huge as a million dollar deal. Whatever it is, be grateful for that day because it will never come again.

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Can chewing gum make you smarter?

Can chewing gum make you smarter?

One study suggests it improves your memory by increasing blood flow to the brain.

While chewing gum may not make you look more intelligent, it actually boosts brainpower, new research shows. People have been chewing gum for about 9,000 years, with ancient Greeks, Mayans and Native Americans popping wads of tree sap or resin in their mouths to freshen their breath. This enduring habit also sharpens our wits in several surprising ways. Here’s a look at the mental benefits:

Better Mental Performance

A 2011 study published in the journal Appetite tested the effects of chewing gum—either sugar-free or sugar-added—on 159 undergraduate students. Half chomped gum before or throughout taking a battery of difficult mental tests, such as reciting lists of random numbers backwards or solving logic puzzles, and the other half (the control group) didn’t.

Those who chewed gum five minutes before the tests significantly outperformed non-chewers on five out of six of the tests, researchers from St. Lawrence University found. However, the benefits only lasted for the first 15 to 20 minutes of the test and chewing during the tests was not helpful, probably because it distracted the students. The sugar content of the gum had no impact on the test performance.

Gum + Math = Higher Grades

Teachers who ban gum in class may want to rethink their rules after checking out the intriguing results of a study at Baylor College of Medicine, involving 8th graders at a charter school.

The researchers found that students who chewed gum during math tests—and while doing their math homework—had a 3 percent rise in standardized math scores and higher final grades, compared to non-chompers. “Chewing gum is an easy tool students can use for an academic edge,” said Craig Johnson, PhD, the lead study researcher.

Revving Up Recall

Munching gum also improves memory, a British review of earlier studies found. However, the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear.

One theory is that the physical act of chewing increases blood flow to the brain, a phenomenon the St. Lawrence researchers call “mastication-induced arousal.” They speculate that munching perks up attention but, since the effect is temporary, chewing gum may be most helpful before tackling the toughest questions on a test.

Is mint gum the new coffee?

In a 2012 study, researchers at Coventry University found that chewing mint gum dramatically reduced daytime sleepiness, without the jitters brought on by coffee.

Study participants were randomly divided into three groups—with one-third of participants chewing gum, one-third “sham chewing” (making chewing motions with no actual gum in their mouth) and the rest not chewing—as they underwent a pupillographic sleepiness test (measuring the diameter of the eye’s pupils for 11 minutes while the person sits in a darkened room).

The researchers theorize that the higher alertness of the gum chewers may be due to the arousing effects of the mint flavor or increased brain activity during chewing.

Smarter, Less Stressed, and Happier

In a quirky study at Cardiff University in the UK, 133 volunteers were given demanding mental tests with and without chewing gum of randomly assigned fruit or mint flavors. To make the mental tests even more challenging, half the volunteers were forced to listen to a stress-inducing, 75-decibel noise (equivalent to standing next to a lawn mover) while trying to concentrate on the tests. The rest were tested in a quiet room.

Volunteers rated their mood before and after the testing sessions and had their heart rate monitored. Their levels of cortisol (a stress hormone that’s also a good measure of alertness) were also checked using saliva samples.

The researchers found that chewing gum was linked to greater alertness, faster reaction times on the tests, with performance actually improving as the task became harder, and enhanced attention. And here’s something else to chew on: those who munched gum were also in a better mood.

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Banish a bad mood in 15 minutes

Banish a bad mood in 15 minutes

Pull yourself out of a funk, pronto, with these 3 surprisingly simple steps. Ask yourself these key questions to figure out what’s wrong.

What’s really bugging me? You’re irritable and sad, but you’re not sure why. “Think about what happened earlier in the day or in the week,” says Larina Kase, author of Anxious 9 to 5: How to Beat Worry, Stop Second Guessing Yourself, and Work with Confidence. “Keep going back until you hit on the most upsetting thing, something that resonates with you.” This will help you address the underlying problem rather than just focusing on the latest snafu in your life.

Am I avoiding something? It’s easier to pin your bad mood on stalled traffic than on, say, your stalled romantic life. If you still don’t feel that you’ve arrived at the root problem, ask yourself if there’s something big going on that you’re unwilling to address. Is there someone―your new love, for instance, or your best friend―whom you’re reluctant to show anger toward? Is there a nagging problem that has been building for months that you’ve been hoping would simply go away? Merely acknowledging the bigger issue will take some pressure off.

Could it be more than one thing? Say you had a bad fight with your sister. It might be a simple case of cause and effect: You argued, and now you’re angry. But the fight might have been aggravated by a problem you’re dealing with at work or compounded by the fact that your father is sick. In those instances, you might be angry but also feel sad or hopeless. It’s common to have multiple emotions cropping up at the same time. When you have two or more pressing problems bringing you down, try to address them one by one.

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4 quick rituals for a better day

4 quick rituals for a better day

Take a few moments in the morning to savor your coffee and set the tone for what’s ahead.

Eat the Same Breakfast Every Day

There’s something to be said for consistency. Knowing exactly what you’re going to eat-and when-decreases stress and sets you up for a less harried morning. Plus, your mood won’t determine what you put on your plate (making it less likely that you’ll find yourself eating a glazed doughnut). Choose a healthy dish that you enjoy: an omelet with vegetables, oatmeal with seeds and nuts, or Greek yogurt with muesli and fruit, for example. You’ll begin your day with energy as well as certainty.

Savor Your Coffee

How long did it take you to down your last cappuccino? Next time, take a cue from the Japanese, whose formal tea ceremony can last four hours. Before taking a drink, participants raise their bowls in tribute to all the factors that came together to create that moment-from their ancestors to the farmers who grew the tea to the elders who taught them how to prepare it. Try this amended routine: Focus on the drink in front of you. Notice the smell, and relish the flavor. You’ll find it’s a wonderful daily exercise in mindfulness.

Write an “Ignore List”

Most people have a to-do list, but to succeed in today’s distraction-prone world, you also have to ask yourself: What’s not worth doing? Jot down what you’re willing to disregard-e-mails you have no intention of responding to, vacuuming, the guilt of not vacuuming. Review the list from time to time to make sure that nothing on it is getting your undeserved attention.

Turn Off Your Mind for a Few Minutes

A major-league pitcher once told me he wished he could cut off his head and just let his body play the game. Even the best athletes fall apart when they give in to their internal dialogue about what they have to do on the field or the court-especially since much of what goes through their minds may be negative. To help you calm down, you need to quiet your own internal thoughts. It doesn’t need to be a complicated process: Listen to music, play cards, or zone out in front of the television. Ask any player who had a good game what was going through his head and he’ll tell you, “Absolutely nothing.”

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Seven little instant health boosts

Seven little instant health boosts

1. Giggle

Health boost: Improve blood flow by 21%

A good laugh can be good for your heart. One recent study from the University of Texas at Austin found that those who chuckled while watching a comedy increased the dilation of blood vessels by one-fifth for up to 24 hours; when they watched a serious documentary, the arteries actually constricted by 18%. (Constricted blood vessels can lead to high blood pressure.)

“When you’re happy, your body releases feel-good neurochemicals, which can have numerous favorable effects on the body,” says David Katz, MD, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine.

2. Brush and floss

Health boost: Cut risk of head and neck cancer by 400%

Take good care of your smile and you’ll have more than just white teeth to show for it. New research from Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY, shows that people with the chronic gum disease periodontitis have a fourfold risk of developing a type of head or neck cancer (which makes up about 5% of all malignancies in the United States), especially in the mouth and throat. The risk was increased even among patients who never used tobacco. Gum disease occurs when the bacteria that live in plaque infect the gums, so brush and floss regularly to prevent plaque buildup.

3. Brew a pot of tea

Health boost: Cut stroke risk by 21%

Sipping tea may help protect you from a life-threatening stroke, according to a study from UCLA School of Medicine. Researchers there examined data from nine studies detailing almost 4,400 strokes among 195,000 people and found that those who drank at least three cups a day had one-fifth the risk of stroke, compared with those who drank less than one cup. It doesn’t matter if you prefer green or black tea—both are made from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, whose powerful antioxidant EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) and amino acid theanine may protect vessels and arteries.

4. Pen a thank-you note

Health boost: Feel 20% happier

Students who wrote letters expressing gratitude to someone special were happier and more satisfied with their lives, researchers at Kent State University found. Other research has shown that expressive writing may improve immune, lung, and liver function; reduce blood pressure; and provide a greater sense of well-being.

But be sincere: “It has to be a heartfelt sentiment showing significant appreciation,” says researcher Steven Toepfer, PhD, an assistant professor of family and consumer studies. Dashing off a quick e-mail or texting a pal might not have the same effect, adds Toepfer, who says taking the time to put pen to paper allowed students to reflect: “Through the process of writing, they had time to think about the links they established between themselves and others and to count their blessings a bit, which made them feel more grateful.”

5. Hide your TV remote

Health boost: Whittle 2 inches from your belly

When switching TV stations, put down the remote, get up, and do it manually. An Australian study found that people who did the greatest amount of light activity during otherwise sedentary behavior, such as watching TV, had 16% smaller waist circumferences than those who were inclined to stay put. Even the simple act of getting up and walking around for a minute or so was enough to make a difference, regardless of whether they had a regular workout schedule.

They also had lower body mass indexes and triglyceride and glucose levels, all of which are associated with a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome. More ways to break up an otherwise inactive day: Stand up every time the phone rings at your desk; take the long way back to your desk after a bathroom break; do some stretches before reading a new e-mail.

6. Doodle during work meetings

Health boost: Improve memory by 29%

People who doodled while listening to a recorded message had nearly one-third better recall of the details than those who didn’t draw, according to a study published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology. “Doodling acts as a buffer against daydreaming,” explains researcher Jackie Andrade, PhD, a professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Plymouth in England. “It provides just enough distraction to stop you from drifting off, but you can still focus on what is being said.”

7. Keep your doctor on speed dial

Health boost: Slash medical mistakes up to 25%

Don’t assume that no news is good news when you’ve had a checkup: Physicians fail to inform 1 out of every 14 patients whose abnormal test results are clinically significant, according to a recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine; among some doctors, the number of no-calls was as high as 1 in 4. Delayed diagnoses can be linked to thousands of serious injuries and health crises—and even deaths—each year.

“If you are subjecting your vein to a needle, you have a right to know what the test is for and why it matters,” says Katz. Talk with your doctor about when you’ll hear about results, and if she finds something that requires treatment, when you might expect to hear from her again. You can always follow up with her after that date.

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