YOU HAVE 365 DAYS. HERE’S HOW TO TAKE CHARGE OF EVERY ONE
Mondays: Start Off Right
- Stretch like a cat
According to the Mayo Clinic, stretching improves posture, promotes blood flow and relieves body tension.
- Crank the tunes
Blast out of the gate on Monday by listening to up-tempo music before your workout. Israeli scientists say this can raise your heart rate, rev you up for an intense exercise session and temporarily
- Pump out the anger
Repeat your workout on Wednesday and Friday. A University of Alabama study found that men who completed three weight workouts a week for 6 months improved scores on tests of tension, anger and overall mood.
- Don’t talk with your thumbs
Strive for quality social time this week by talking, not texting. Frequent texters are more likely to experience loneliness and social anxiety, says an Alliant University study.
- Turbocharge your turkey
Commit yourself to healthy, varied lunches, and start by topping your turkey club sandwich with broccoli sprouts. Compared with mature broccoli, these have up to 100 times the potent compound sulforaphane, which is shown to fight cancer.
- Clear the air
Women who keep the tension corked are more likely to die of heart disease, say Boston University researchers. If you are worried about something, talk it out with a friend, relative or member of clergy.
Tuesdays: Hit Your Stride
- Write it down
Think about how the prospect of your own death makes you feel. Now express that feeling in writing. A study in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Physiology found that this simple act can boost your motivation to exercise.
- Break some eggs
Wayne State University researchers found that eggs at breakfast put the kibosh on hunger and reduce calorie intake later in the day.
- Clear the decks
Hit critical projects early. A Harvard study found you become progressively less alert after lunch, so save nonessentials for day’s end.
- Go Easy
Japanese researchers found that going easy at the end of your heavy strength workout causes your body to pump out more fat-burning and muscle-building hormones. Do 20 reps with 50 percent of your one-rep max.
- Save your Face
Commit to sleeping 8 hours a night, says David Bank, M.D., director of the Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery in Mount Kisco, New York. While you’re asleep, your body produces collagen and elastin, two proteins that help your skin stay smooth.
Wednesdays: Survive Hump Day
- Make a mad dash
Burn off negative energy and bust out of a mid-day slump with a 30-second sprint. British researchers found this can reduce tension, anger and confusion for 75 minutes.
- Say “we,” not “you”
If midweek stress leads to a fight with your significant other, use the collective pronoun “we” (“I think we will be happier if your mom stays at a hotel”), which inspires compromise, according to a study in the journal Psychological Science.
- Call Him a Fight
If stress lingers, discuss a sticky situation on the phone. This reduces tension, say University of Florida researchers, because eye-rolling and head-shaking are offline.
- Eat something yucky
Sardines, anyone? Try one food you hated as a kid. Our palates change with age as our 9,000 taste buds’ reactions to stimulants mature.
- Say “I’m Sorry”
There’s really no better way to end a fight than to ask for forgiveness.
- Spice up dinner
Keep the energy level high with an exciting evening meal: Make a dish like chili with 10 different spices and herbs, which are full of disease-fighting chemicals.
Thursdays: Keep Your Momentum
- See the TV docs
Go ahead and take your mind off the workday by vegging out with ER. A USC study shows that watching well-crafted medical dramas improves health habits in men.
- Pop some chocolate
You’ll stay sharp and focused for that final lunge toward the weekend. (And give yourself a much-needed treat.) Milk chocolate has been shown to boost verbal and visual memory, impulse control and reaction time.
- Sign up for a race
If you find a better reason to work out than pure weight loss, you’ll be more likely to maintain an exercise program, found a University of Michigan study.
- Take a few deep breaths
The less your brain is occupied by dealing with stress, the more time it’ll have for creative thinking. Studies show that slow, deep breathing is probably the best anti-stress treatment we have.
- Play a symphony
Listening to works that aren’t familiar or have a lot of transitions (try Beethoven’s 6th) helps you focus, say Stanford University researchers.
- Pick your battles
Select four tasks and set the rest aside for late afternoon. Too many choices in front of you can stop you from focusing on any of them, say University of Missouri researchers.
- Take a nap
Stay fresh by backing off a bit. Greek researchers say a midday snooze can protect you from bad health and heart-related illnesses.
Fridays: End the Week Strong
- Step on the scale
People who weigh themselves on a regular basis are less likely to gain weight.
- Mow through a salad
Eating nutrient-dense, low-calorie vegetables before a main course can keep calorie intake in check, say Penn State researchers.
- Have some Joe
Week’s almost over—now bring it home. Austrian researchers found that a cup of java resulted in a 45-minute boost of brain activity in the regions responsible for attention, concentration and short-term memory.
- Quit procrastinating
Now that you’re juiced, tee up a strong Monday. Use 30 minutes to work on a task you’ve been dreading for the past month. You may find you can do it in 15.
- Pretend it’s your first date
A University of British Columbia study shows that partners feel better about themselves and often have more fun when meeting their mates as if they were total strangers.
Saturdays: Make it count
- Wake up early
Australian scientists found that dozing late on weekends leaves you more tired on Monday.
- Watch and learn
Simply watching professional athletes will help you perform better at the same sport, say Brandeis University researchers.
- Flip a disc
What piece of athletic gear sells more than baseballs, basketballs and footballs combined? Frisbees. You can burn 330 calories in 30 minutes playing Ultimate Frisbee.
- Check your pillow
A good pillow supports your head as you move during the night. Fold your pillow in half; if it doesn’t return to its original shape when you release it, go shopping.
- Sneak in some red
Smuggle a bottle of wine, two glasses and a corkscrew into a long matinee. Red wine is rich in life-extending anti-oxidants, and the caper will add a little zest to even a bad movie.
Sundays: Relax and Unwind
Studies show that people who attend church regularly live 3 years longer on average than heathens do.
- Order pancakes
Reward yourself for a week of healthful eating with breakfast at a greasy spoon. Nutritionists say an occasional cheat meal can make it easier to stick with a healthy diet.
- Root for buffalo
Enjoy the game with a bison or ostrich burger. These lean alternatives to ground beef are packed with muscle-building nutrients.
- Do the laundry
A survey of 2,000 people revealed that sharing chores ups your odds of having a happy marriage.
- Toss the air guitar
Playing a musical instrument could protect your brain from Alzheimer’s disease, says an Albert Einstein College of Medicine study. Set aside an hour to learn guitar or piano.
- Train for change
On Sunday night, assess what change you can tackle in the next week. Take little steps. “Change is disruptive and requires effort,” says Carlo DiClemente, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of Maryland. “Small successes are always better than large failures.”
Download A Printer Friendly Version Of This Section