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Cut down on social media, spoil yourself and drink more water: Easy lifestyle tweaks anyone can stick to

Mirror logo Mirror 02/01/2018 Caroline Jones
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Tired of too-strict diet and exercise regimes that fail before February? Our easy but effective lifestyle tweaks will keep you healthy all year…

Don’t ban booze

Dry January is great in theory, but there’s no real health gain if you abstain for a month only to go back to drinking just as heavily for the rest of the year.

Also, January can be a tough, cold month when banning things outright will just make you feel miserable.

A healthier, longer term goal is to simply drink a bit less, every week. Aim to stick to the official Government guidelines which recommend no more than 14 units each week.

Integrate exercise into your life

One reason why many people stop going to the gym or ditch a new fitness plan is because they see exercise as an “add-on” – something they only do when they can find the time.

Research shows extra activity is much more likely to become a habit if you find ways to simply incorporate it into your daily routine. Walk the kids to school or cycle to work and use your lunch hour for a brisk walk to run errands.

Make breakfast a happy meal

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Choose a brekkie that’s scientifically shown to lift your mood and boost your health: “Poached eggs on granary toast is the perfect mood-lifting combination,” advises nutritionist Linda Foster.

The high protein hit will also keep you feeling fuller for longer and therefore less likely to snack on sugary treats mid-morning.

Diary in down time

A little pressure every now and again is part of life, but when stress becomes chronic, it can increase your risk of sleep problems, depression and heart disease.

“Long work hours, not switching off and lack of time with family and friends can exacerbate stress,” says Dr Meg Arroll, psychologist for Healthspan. “But all too often relaxation is seen only as an indulgence.”

Make this the year you prioritise down time – be that yoga classes, weekends away or walks in the park.

Designate every day a D-day

Sunlight is the body’s main source of vitamin D, and deficiency can increase your risk of depression and catching colds and flu.

With up to 50% of Britons deficient in this nutrient, the Government now recommends we take a daily vitamin D supplement of 10mcg over the winter. Try Better You DLUX1000 (£6.95, from Betteryou.com)

Reconnect with old friends

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Reconnecting with old pals could be good for your health. Research suggests people with strong social ties live longer than those who don’t. In fact, a lack of social bonds can damage your health as much as excessive drinking and smoking according to a large review study by Brigham Young University in the USA.

Spoil yourself rotten

You don’t have to make January a month of denial. Be extra nice to yourself instead. Book a massage, a meal out or just plan a special movie night in with your family.

Treating yourself releases happy hormones in the brain that can lower blood pressure and help boost immunity.

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Go to sleep – and wake up – at the same time

Many of us worry about getting enough sleep and carefully count how many hours we’re managing each night. But while this is important, some sleep experts say we’d be better off focusing on a consistent sleep/wake schedule.

Our bodies thrive on routine and going to bed at roughly the same time every night will help you get to sleep faster – and wake refreshed.

Drink a bit more water

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There’s no doubt being hydrated is good for our energy levels and can improve concentration and even prevent headaches. And the good news is that many experts no longer think we need to drink eight glasses of water a day, and advise just drinking enough fluid to ensure your pee is light straw-coloured rather than dark and concentrated.

“Drinking one glass of water before each meal is a great start and will also help prevent overeating,” advises Linda.

Book that holiday

Why not take advantage of all those “early bird” deals and book yourself a holiday? Just choosing where to stay and looking at pictures of sunny beaches will help you forget about the misery of January.

In fact, psychologists have found that just looking forward to your holiday boosts your current mood by releasing feel-good brain chemicals.

Have a social media-free day each week

Ever found yourself feeling miserable because everyone on Facebook or Instagram seems to be having better holidays/romance/life than you?

A growing body of research has found a link between excessive use of these sites and depression, with the University of Houston putting this down to us worrying that others are doing better than us.

Try and give yourself one day a week away from social media.

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