The most effective way to meet any goal, experts say, is through a series of tiny changes. Here are 100 that work.
1. Wipe down your office doorknob.
Using disinfectant wipes on commonly touched objects like doorknobs can reduce the spread of cold- and flu-causing viruses by up to 90%, according to researchers from the University of Arizona.
2. Meditate in the morning.
"I start my day with a simple meditation practice; it sets the tone for my day and clears my head to prepare for what's ahead," says Tiffany Cruikshank, an internationally renowned yoga instructor and the founder of Yoga Medicine.
3. Eat sardines twice a week.
They're packed with protein and omega-3s, and most worthy of a place on your plate. Try these 3 easy recipes with sardines—your heart will thank you.
4. Make your own salad dressing.
Skip the not-so-healthy bottled stuff; all you need are a handful of ingredients to bring out the best in your greens. Try these easy 5-ingredient salad dressings.
6. Get Sugar Smart.
Americans eat an insane amount of sugar—and much of that sugar is hidden in foods without you realizing it. Take back control with The Sugar Smart Diet, written by Prevention's own Anne Alexander (published by Rodale, which also published Prevention).
7. Do a sun salutation each morning.
Sukanya Mahajan, a retired city clerk from Chicago (shown above), runs through the postures 6 times for 10 minutes. It will start your day with some stretching and strengthening—and it just plain feels good.
8. Ease anxiety with a Tibetan sky-gazing meditation.
Look out the window (or look upward), relax your whole body, and let your gaze expand into the spaciousness of the sky, says Dean Sluyter, author Natural Meditation: A Guide To Effortless Meditative Practice. Repeat the ahhh sound silently—it's the most open sound you can make, and it amplifies the feeling. Let your attention go, and sit for a few minutes.
9. Play that calming music.
The body's internal rhythms entrain to the external rhythms of music, like when you go to the sea and you start breathing slower and your heart rate slows down and starts moving closer to the rhythm and pace of the ocean. It's the same with music, especially reggae, says Frank Lipman, MD.
10. Plan a trip.
Travel happiness actually spikes in the planning stage, according to research.
11. Put down your smartphone.
When that impulse to whip out the phone strikes, resist. You're going to feel a wave of anxiety, says Sluyter, but don't panic—that wave is supposed to happen. Once it rolls through, you'll see that there's something good in its wake: silence. Freedom.
12. Boost your memory while you grocery shop.
In lieu of a list, take a page out of US Memory Champ Chester Santos and think up a crazy story that features the items you need to buy. (Try these6 simple brain boosters to keep your thinker thinking.)
13. Breathe deeply.
For fast focus, sit in a comfortable place, breathe naturally, and settle your attention on your breath, says Sharon Salzberg, author of Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation. With each inhale and exhale, mentally repeat the words "in" and "out." If your mind wanders, just let go without judgment, and bring your attention back to it.
14. Don't check your email when you wake up.
And don't turn on the news or the radio—just sit silently and have a cup of coffee or tea and allow your mind to wander. This 10-minute cocoon of time is a calming, centering way to start the day.
15. Try frozen brown rice.
Packed with all the whole grains and fiber of freshly cooked rice, frozen brown can be ready in minutes—just microwave per package directions.
16. Focus on your mentors.
To feel a deeper connection to those around you, Sluyter suggests this ancient Tibetan technique: Sit quietly and think of someone who has unconditionally supported you. Close your eyes and visualize that person behind and slightly above you. Imagine her radiating love in the form of beautiful, golden light. Then visualize someone in front of you who you want to share the light with. Let it pour down through you and bathe the person in front of you.
17. Start foam rolling.
Business owner Carolina Caywood (shown above) does a trigger-point massage with a foam roller on her legs and feet every morning to easepain and improve flexibility. Try these 10 feel-good foam-rolling moves.
18. Get creative with yogurt.
Not only is it the fastest clean breakfast around, but it also makes an instant creamy addition to savory dishes. Use to marinate meat, as the base for dips, soups, and sauces, or these 6 other surprising uses for yogurt.
19. Add rotisserie chicken to your grocery list.
Using rotisserie birds in your recipes can be just as healthy (not to mention faster!) as home-roasting your own when you opt for organic (meaning no water, sodium, or artificial flavors were injected).
20. Try a loving-kindness meditation.
Sit quietly, breathe normally, and repeat the phrase "May I be happy, may I be peaceful," says Salzberg. Whenever your attention wanders, gently let those thoughts go and come back to the phrase. After repeating that phrase for yourself, offer it up to include all beings everywhere, saying "May all things be happy, may all things be peaceful."
21. Use a netti pot.
"Every morning, wherever I am in the world, I do a netti pot 'session' to rinse my sinuses and stave off nasty bacteria and germs," says Valerie Orsoni, health and wellness expert and founder of LeBootCamp. "Since I started this regimen, I have caught no cold during the winter or after traveling by plane."
22. Brew a cup of afternoon tea.
The process forces you to take a break and will put you in a Zen mood, says Khalil Hymore, Prevention contributing food editor. (Follow these steps for the perfect cup of tea.)
23. Have eggs for dinner.
Eggs turn into dinner faster than any other protein in the fridge (think beef, chicken, or tofu), saving you about 20 minutes. This superfood has endless uses, including in quiches, sandwiches, and soups. Try these 10 easy egg recipes made with just 5 ingredients.
24. Scrub your scalp in the shower.
Improving circulation to the follicles is one of your best bets for keeping the hair on your head healthy. While shampooing, use your fingertips to apply light, steady pressure along the center of your scalp (right where your middle part would fall) for 3 to 5 minutes, then rinse.
25. "Deal" with a difficult person.
Visualize the person with whom you're having difficulty as a perfect, enlightened being radiating a pure, tranquil light, says Sluyter. But she's stuck in an eggshell, and all the actions you find difficult or problematic are just this person trying to peck away at that shell. Now visualize yourself gently helping to peel away that shell so she can become her best, enlightened self. Next time you see that individual, you'll frame your relationship in this new context.
26. Press a spot on your face to relax.
Relieve tension and get your blood pumping with DIY acupressure. Find the base of each cheekbone and press lightly for 30 seconds—it's long been tied to a brightening effect on the complexion. (Also try this feel-good facial acupressure technique.)
27. Use quick-cooking oats.
They're still whole grains—they've just been pressed slimmer than traditional oats for faster cooking. Look for organic varieties to keep pesticides out of your morning meal.
28. Remember what you want.
Sometimes we're so distracted by stresses that we never take time to settle down and listen to what our body, mind, and soul are telling us, says Malika Chopra, founder and CEO of Intent.com. Try this: Sit in a comfortable position, settle your breath, close your eyes, and, as you breathe, mentally repeat the words "I am" for 5 minutes. Next, ask yourself "What do I want?" 2 to 4 times—don't feel like you have to answer it, let your mind settle down and see what bubbles up.
29. Dry brush your whole body.
Do this for better circulation and glowing skin: Before your next shower, start at the tops of your feet, working your way up your body and brushing with long, straight strokes in the direction of your heart. Each stroke should take 2 seconds, skipping the too-delicate skin on your neck, décolletage, and face. Watch this short video for a quick demo.
30. Have coffee…
Women who drink at least four cups a day have a 20% lower risk of depression, a 65% lower risk of late-in-life dementia, and, per the most recent research, a 21% less likelihood of developing tinnitus, of all things.
31. …And make it this kind of coffee
Mold-free coffee with butter and coconut oil gives you clean energy and a complete lack of cravings for about 6 hours, says Dave Asprey, author ofThe Bulletproof Diet (Rodale). Here's his recipe.
32. Shiver for more burn.
Exercising in temps between 62° and 65° activates brown fat, a metabolically active type of fat that cranks up calorie burn and helps your body regulate insulin, says George King, chief scientific officer at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.
33. Turn down the music.
If you work out with headphones, set the volume at 60% of max. Studies show consistent exposure to sounds above 100 decibels (normal conversation is 60dB) can leave your with a permanent "huh?" reflex.
34. Stock up on frozen veggies.
Frozen veggies can save time and be healthier: Produce picked at its peak and then frozen often adds more nutrients than fresh that sits out too long.
35. Pop a daily probiotic.
People who regularly supplement with probiotics report fewer coldsymptoms and faster recovery, per research. Try a supplement with at least 1 billion colony-forming units of either Lactobacillus rhamnosus GGor Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis BB-12.
36. Cook your kale.
Cooking it and draining the water will remove much of its oxalic acid, which can contribute to kidney stones, says Asprey. Choose kale that's lower in oxalic acid, like dinosaur kale, and boil until tender.
37. Visit the bathroom, even if it means being a few minutes late for work.
When poop sits in your colon, it becomes drier and harder, and that can plug you up, which causes pain (not to mention a pretty foul mood), says Alex Ky, associate professor of surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
38. Trade the cookie for a squat.
Exercising in short bursts has completely changed Sadie Lincoln, wellness expert and founder of barre3 fitness (shown above). She says, "I do a quick 10 minute workout at around 3 pm every day. This time of day is when I used to grab sweets or reach for a cup of coffee—both were sabotaging my weight loss goals and didn't help my productivity in the long run. This way of exercising has changed my life so much that I have created an entire company around it!"
39. Sit up straight!
When you move from poor posture to good posture, you increase levels of energizing hormones, as well as feel-good serotonin, plus you decrease the stress hormone cortisol, says spinal surgeon Kenneth Hansraj. (Try these 6 quick posture fixes to stop the slumping.)
40. Take a peek at your pee.
It should be pale yellow to clear. If it's not, drink more water. Researchers at the University of Connecticut founds that even mild dehydration zaps energy and lowers concentration among otherwise healthy women.
41. Jump in place 10 times.
In a Brigham Young University study, women ages 25 to 50 who jumped 10 times twice daily upped their hip-bone density after 16 weeks. (Here are 12 more ways to get break-proof bones for life.)
42. Give your coworker a mega-watt grin, even if you'd rather throttle him.
Even a fake smile can lower heart rate after a stressful event, according to a study from the University of Kansas.
43. Daydream of superfoods.
People who called to mind sensible food instead of indulgent junk had smaller spikes in ghrelin, the hunger hormone, according to the new book20 Pounds Younger (Rodale).
44. Relieve a headache in 30 seconds.
Ease tension and relieve an achy head by searching for tender spots on your forehead and scalp, and then rubbing them in a circular motion with the pad of your thumb and knuckles, says Maureen Moon, past president of the American Massage Therapy Association.
45. Resist the urge to stifle that big afternoon yawn.
Yawning helps cool your brain, which in turn improves alertness and performance, according to research from University of Vienna in Austria.
46. Indulge in a mini marathon of hilarious animal videos.
Laughing lowers stress and blood pressure and gives some sparkle to your frame of mind.
47. Crush an afternoon slump with this 30-second yoga move.
Stand and ground your feet by pressing into all four corners of each sole. Bend knees and fold forward from hips, keeping back straight. Hang for 10 to 30 deep breaths, then slowly rise back up. You'll improve blood flow to your brain and stretch your oh-so-tight spine, says yoga instructor Elissa Lappostato.
48. Fill up your tank after dark.
Gasoline emissions evaporate as you fill your tank, contributing to the formation of ozone, which is a component of smog—bad for your lungs and the environment. The sun facilitates this, so filling up postsunset keeps emissions from turning into pollutants.
49. Take off your shoes at your front door.
This keeps all kinds of grossness out of your home. When researches tested shoes for germs, they found a disturbing array of pathogens, including E.coli. (Check out these 10 worst germ hot spots you touch every day.)
50. Brush your tongue.
That bit of flesh harbors a lot of bacteria, which can spread to teeth and up the risks of cavities and gingivitis.
51. Keep your bedroom between 65° and 70°.
A cool bedroom helps promote the drop in core body temperature necessary to induce restful, uninterrupted slumber.
52. Shop on Sundays for smoothies.
To make throwing together a daily smoothie super simple, stock up on ingredients from each of these categories: liquids, fresh leafy greens, fresh or frozen fruit, nuts and seeds, and boosters, says The Blender GirlTess Masters. (Have fun trying these 25 mix-and-match smoothie ideas!)
53. Prep smoothie packs for the week.
Load all measured solid ingredients into zip-top bags, starting with hard heavy ingredients, followed by leafy greens, and finally soft foods. Write the liquid you'll need to add on the front of each bag and freeze until you're ready to blend. Try these 5 smoothie pack ideas.
54. Say good-bye.
Ginger Zee, chief meteorologist for Good Morning America, says she always kisses her husband and dog good-bye (even though they're asleep!) before she leaves for work. "Then on the ride to the studio, I take a moment to set my intention for the day. The routine has made me settled and focused."
55. Make smoothie cleanup easier.
After you pour your drink, fill the pitcher halfway with warm water and a drop of dish soap. Blend on high for 30 seconds, rinse, and air-dry. Voila!
56. Take a bath.
Feel the stress leave your body while you soak. Cristina Ferrare (shown above), a model, actress, chef and host on Hallmark Channel's "Home & Family" (weekdays at 10 am ET/PT) adds salts, soothing lavender, and grapefruit essential oils, and puts on soft spa music. "I do this for myself at night to calm down and it definitely has an impact on my life because it helps me to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep through the night," she says.
57. Consider avocado a food group.
Eating an avocado or two per day gives you omega-3s, which help your body build healthy cell membranes, says Asprey. The dark part of theavocado closest to the peel has the most vitamins, so get out your scraping spoon—just discard any brown parts. Try these 29 amazing avocado recipes.
58. Soak your face in ice water for 1 to 2 minutes.
Exposure to ice water allows you to reset levels of the appetite hormone leptin, which leads to faster fat loss, says Asprey.
59. Say a prayer.
"Taking a few moments a day for prayer and breathing has been very impactful for me," says Monica Potter, Star of Parenthood and Founder of MrsPotter.com. "I used to be very mindful of prayer when I was younger and it just gets more necessary as I get older."
60. Breathe with intention for 2 minutes.
Inhale for 4 counts while saying "I am" in your mind. Then exhale for 4 counts while saying "at peace" to yourself. Repeat the cycle at least 4 times to ground yourself, says Aviva Romm, MD, herbalist and midwife.
61. Push your pressure points.
Daniel Hsu, doctor of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, says key acupressure spots on the head, face, and hands are really close to bundles of nerves, so pressing on them can help relax the nervous system. Apply pressure to the meaty part of your hand between the thumb and forefinger anytime you're stressed.
62. Align your chakras.
Getting your 7 so-called energy centers in line could ease your pain and up your happiness, among other things. (Check out one writer's crazy experience with her chakras.)
63. Throw a mini dance party with your partner.
Research shows that romance reduces the production of stress-related hormones, says Elaine Wyllie, MD. Dancing around the house for a few minutes leaves you feeling youthful and excited.
64. Note 3 things you're grateful for every night.
"I 'practice gratitude' for a few minutes a day," says Gail Saltz, MD, bestselling author and associate professor of psychiatry at The New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornel School of Medicine. "I note three things for which I am grateful that day, they can be small, like a delicious cup of coffee, or big like my husband totally supported my book project. Over time this has changed my feeling about how full my life is and how much I appreciate it."
65. Boost immunity with saline nasal spray.
Travis Stork, MD, uses one or two squirts every morning and night—it immediately moisturizes nasal passages and washes away congestion, allergens, and other irritants.
66. Eat cleaner.
Cutting out artificial sweeteners, refined carbs, or anything that comes from a box changed Lisa Lenz, an office case manager in Auburn, CA (shown above). She says old friends barely recognize the new her.
67. Do 100 push-ups every day.
It sounds like a lot, but Jim Sears, MD, says you can break it up into 20 reps 5 times a day. If you're not used to push-ups, do them on your knees, or start with 2, 3, or 5 and add one each week.
68. Ground yourself.
Stand and feel your feet on the ground, the distribution of weight between them, and with your eyes open, begin walking at a normal pace. Slow down and notice the sensation of your legs moving up and down. Your mind will wander, says Salzberg, but that's OK—when it does, bring it back to those sensations.
69. Drink a cold glass of water with freshly squeezed lemon every morning.
It hydrates, gives a dose of vitamin C, boosts the immune system, and has fat-burning benefits, says Andrew P. Ordon, MD. Bonus: when skin is hydrated, fine lines and wrinkles are less obvious. (Not a fan of plain water? Consider these 25 slimming add-ins.)
70. End your day with a guided meditation.
Search YouTube and select whatever guided meditation you need that day: relaxation, love, or health, says Jennifer Berman, MD. You'll wake up happy and go to sleep with a quiet mind and calm stomach.
71. Indulge your sweet tooth.
Try this healthy dessert from Rachael Ross, MD: Slather a toasted slice of whole grain bread with 1 Tbsp of almond butter, and top with sliced banana, blackberries, a drizzle of melted dark chocolate, and ground flaxseed. It satisfies cravings while providing protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, potassium, and tons of antioxidants.
72. Exfoliate nightly, then apply a retinol or coconut oil.
Exfoliating allows the next product to penetrate deeply, and alternating the powerful anti-ager retinol with natural coconut oil is like a one-two punch for skin, says Jennifer Ashton, MD.
73. Eat like a caveman.
Following the Paleo diet forces artificial sugars and packaged foods out of your life—and replaces them with high fiber fruits and veggies. Want a formal introduction? Give these 5-ingredient Paleo recipes a try and see what the trend is all about.
74. Soak in some Epsom salts.
Once dissolved in warm water, they're absorbed by the skin and replenish your body's magnesium levels, which can be depleted by stress, says Deborah Levy, MS, RD.
75. Turn off your devices long before bed.
These devices emit light in the blue spectrum, which disrupts sleep. It shuts down production of the sleep-enhancing hormone melatonin when it hits your retina, explains Robert Rosenberg, DO, of the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, Arizona. (Give these 20 other ways to sleep better every night a try.)
76. Answer an email in person.
Not only is it friendlier, but it also forces you to walk around, which you should do at least once every hour if you have desk job, says Martha Gulati, MD, director for preventive cardiology at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Studies link sitting to weight gain and poor heart health.
77. Unleash your inner artist.
Research shows creative pursuits outside the workplace can noticeably increase your on-the-job performance. Researchers say the rush you get from creating something boosts self esteem and the belief you can succeed at anything. (Here are 9 ways to boost your own creativity.)
78. Chew gum to improve memory.
Chewing Think Gum ($2, thinkgum.com), which contains caffeine, peppermint, and ginkgo biloba, improves aspects of memory, according to research published in the journal Appetite.
79. Do a high intensity AM workout.
Serious, kick-butt workouts can increase the number of calories you burn at rest (called after burn) for up to 72 hours after your workout ends, finds research in the European Journal of Applied Physiology. Do thisslimming 7-minute workout while your coffee brews.
80. If it hurts, just treat it.
It's that easy. It took Prevention editor-in-chief weeks to call the podiatrist after his new puppy chewed up his fancy orthotics. He could have saved himself (and his freaky-high arches) a whole lot of pain.
81. Make a food plan for the week.
Chalkboards are trendy, but they're also good for guiding your mind and your mouth toward a healthy meal at the end of the day. (Fill your menu with these freezer-friendly recipes you can make ahead of time.)
82. Volunteer your time.
You get what you give: Research shows volunteering regularly can lower your risk for death by up to 24%. All that usefulness and altruism might cause your brain to produce more oxytocin and progesterone—good-vibe chemicals that curb stress and reduce harmful inflammation. (Here's how to find the good deed that matches your personality.)
83. Layer products for radiant skin.
Never struggle to choose between two creams again: Apply lighter products like water-based serums first, followed by any oils or lotions, and finish with sunscreen, waiting a couple minutes between each step, says Jessica Wu, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at USC.
84. Firm up your neck with one move.
Grasp your neck so your palms are touching your neck and the insides of your wrists touch. Then, simply jut your head forward using the muscles in the front of your neck and release. Do 20 repetitions twice daily for full effect, says Carole Maggio, a licensed esthetician and author of Ultimate Facercise.
85. Wake up tired eyes with chamomile tea.
Steep two bags in hot water for 5 minutes, then let chill for a few minutes. Once tepid, close your eyes and place one bag over each eye (you'll want to cover both upper and lower lids) for 10 minutes. Chamomile's anti-inflammatory qualities will soothe the sensitive skin around your eyes for a brighter, tighter look.
86. Wear sunscreen every single day.
With a reduced risk of skin cancer, and fewer wrinkles and sunspots, there are a million reasons to protect your skin, says Alison Sweeney, author of Scared Scriptless and host of The Biggest Loser. "Each morning, I make a point of taking care of my skin by applying moisturizing sunscreen. It gives me a few minutes of quiet and I'm protecting myself for that day and the years ahead."
87. Try hand and foot therapy balls.
When used like a foam roller, they can relieve soreness, pain, and increase circulation in your hardest to reach places. These 10 pain-fighting tennis ball moves are the next best thing to a professional massage.
88. Spike your breakfast with cinnamon.
The spice has been shown to reduce insulin resistance and may help lower cholesterol and triglycerides, blood fats that could contribute to diabetes risk. Find it in these 12 energy-boosting breakfasts.
89. Drink water with apple cider vinegar.
The stuff has been shown to lower blood sugar levels, soothe digestive issues, and even treat dandruff, thanks to its anti-fungal properties. It's also a gut-healthy prebiotic, giving your microbiome a dose of healthy bacteria.
90. Take the time to craft your mantra.
Especially when you're using one for fitness. Your mantra should be something that stirs you into action when things feel tough, so it should hit on the deeper reason you're exercising, says Jeff Halevy, a behavioral health and fitness expert. Find the best one for your workout.
91. Use clean food as a flavor booster.
Research shows that certain spices, herbs, and spreads not only boost flavor but can also help curb appetite, ease digestion, promote better memory, and even fight heart disease and cancer. Here are 9 clean condiments to keep on hand.
92. Keep peppermints in your purse.
They can ease ill-timed digestive issues, bring you back from a bout of light-headedness, soothe frustration during rush hour traffic, and give you a good afternoon pick-me-up.
93. Laugh your way through meditation.
If ohm-ing isn't your style, trade yoga class for a comedy club: A good laugh now and then may give you a mental boost similar to meditation, suggests new research presented at the Experimental Biology 2014 conference in San Diego. (Learn more about making laughter your own type of meditation.)
94. Take your walk to greener pastures.
The University of Essex in the UK found 30 minutes of walking in a green scene reduced depression in 71% of participants.
95. Bulk up on B12.
Low blood levels of B12 can lead to depression. The good news: it works the other way around, too. In one study, depressed people on antidepressants felt much better after taking B12 supplements for just 3 months.
96. Take advantage of morning air.
"I wake up, go outside, and I breathe fresh air morning air," says Dolvett Quince, author of The Biggest Loser Bootcamp (on sale January 6 wherever books are sold). "It rejuvenates me and gives me good energy—I feel like I can take on anything!"
97. Trade your after-work sweatpants for workout gear.
Even if you stay home, donning workout clothes will give you an increased range of motion, so you'll probably put more energy into your chores.
98. Switch the channels on the TV without the remote.
You could easily burn 200 extra calories a day if you stop using the remote, garage door opener, electric can opener, and other labor-saving devices.
99. Trade that pat of butter for some olive oil.
In one study, those who dipped bread in oil ate a total of 52 fewer calories on average than those who used butter.
100. Sip some green tea before you walk.
The caffeine frees fatty acids so that you burn fat more easily, while the antioxidants appear to work with caffeine to increase calorie burn.