Lay out this week’s workout clothes
Decide how many times you’ll exercise this week, then stack up the same number of sets of gear and lay them out, ready. The fewer decisions you have to make about exercising, the more likely you are to do it. “Your goal is to get each outfit sweaty and in the laundry basket by the end of the week,” says personal trainer Cheri Paige Fogleman. And if you’re a morning exerciser, waking up to your gear laid out makes it easier to say “Yes” than “No”.
Stare at kittens
It might be the secret to your next promotion: seeing pictures of kittens or puppies boosts performance, a study published in US scientific journal, PLOS One, has found. “Looking at cute images narrows your focus, allowing you to perform tasks with greater care,” says study author Hiroshi Nittono, PhD, of Osaka University. But don’t overdo it. “Viewing too many is just a waste of time,” he says. Take a peek before a tough task, then get it done.
Taking today off might help give you a longer, healthier life. Research shows that women who work 41 to 50 hours a week are 1.6 times as likely to develop heart disease and 1.5 times as likely to get cancer compared with those who work 30 to 40 hours a week (averaged over a 32-year period). The more hours you toil, the higher your risk. “Women perform dual roles, working long hours at work and at home,” says Allard Dembe, an expert in public health. “That added stress may set the stage for disease.”
But taking a midweek break from work every now and then – to see a movie, get your nails done, or just snooze – could help counter that.
Go to a concert
Listening to music with other people, especially friends, reduces stress, according to an international study. One possible reason is that group toe-tapping, head-bobbing, and singing – all of which happen spontaneously and involuntarily – lead to feelings of togetherness and community, which contribute to greater feelings of happiness. If you can’t make it to a concert, just host a dinner party at home, and play lots of fun music everyone can bop along to.
Conjure up more quality time
A recent study found that one in 10 Aussies spend as much as half an hour a day searching for misplaced things like car keys, lost phones and wallets. That lost half an hour of free time coud be used for exercise, ”me” time, or settling in with Netflix. Reclaim that time with tracking apps like Find My iPhone or others like Tile or Pixie, which allow you to attach a tracker to your most precious things, so when they’re lost, you can make them ring or geo-locate them.
Grow good feelings
A desk plant, a small bouquet, even a nature shot as your screen saver may have the power to improve mood and blunt the effects of stress, according to a new study. “Exposure to nature involves fascination, which restores the mind and counters fatigue,” says psychologist Dr Stephen Colarelli, PhD. For a plant that’s hard to kill, try mother-in-law’s tongue (it’s prettier than it sounds!).
Make tomorrow’s breakfast tonight
In a glass jar, mix ½ cup rolled oats, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 1 tablespoon honey and ⅔ cup milk or unsweetened plant-based milk. Add fruit or nuts.
Cover and shake; pop it in the fridge overnight – then just wake up, grab it and go! “Raw oats contain prebiotic fibre, which helps stimulate the growth of the good bacteria in our bodies,” says dietitian Willow Jarosh.
Have fun with your passwords
Rather than using your usual string of characters to unlock your digital devices, create new passwords that make you both more secure and happier. “Choose mantra words like ‘serenity’, ‘peace’, and ‘patience’, ” suggests executive coach Karen Elizaga. “Every time you log in, you’ll get a little hit of inspiration.” Of course, for security, it’s always wise to add numbers and characters into your new password.
Pay attention to your breath today, allowing it to slow you down so you can better focus on conversations you’re having, meals you’re eating, and the way you’re moving throughout your day, rather than racing through the hours on autopilot. “When you’re able to consider what’s really important to you, you can see how much time you spend worrying about unimportant things,” says family medicine specialist Dr Maryanna Klatt.
Block bad vibes
You can’t totally avoid people who you find annoying, but you can neutralise their negative energy with this calming exercise. Gently curl your hands into fists, with your fingers wrapped around your thumbs. (Hands not free? Curl your toes instead.) “People who suck positive energy from us disrupt our bodies’ balance at the cellular level, weakening the immune system and leaving us susceptible to illness,” says Dr Florence Comite, an endocrinologist. “This practice heightens our awareness and control of our internal energy.”