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20 New Year's Resolutions You Can Really Keep

Downscale your expectations and supercharge the results by taking five easy steps in just four areas of your life.

TAKE 5 for Your Mind

Rise and sing. Set your iPod or alarm clock to wake you with your favorite song so you start every morning humming a happy tune. Music is a great stress-buster, especially when you listen to songs you really like.

Be kind. Before you climb out of bed each morning, "Spend 20 seconds thinking of one nice thing you can do for yourself that day," advises Alice Domar, PhD, executive director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health and co-author of Live a Little. Promise to call your best friend, soak in a hot bath, or treat yourself to a skinny latte at your favorite café. Whatever you do, give back to yourself for at least a half hour each day.

Take a breather. When your job or kids are driving you crazy, go somewhere quiet, close your eyes, and count backward from 10 to zero, taking one deep breath for each number. When you breathe deeply, your heart doesn't have to work as hard and your mind is too focused to race, Domar says.

Phone a funny friend. Laughter is a powerful healer. It can soothe your mind and help heal your body. Cracking up with your BFF for just 15 minutes has the same kind of blood-vessel-relaxing and blood-pressure-lowering benefits as 30 minutes of aerobics, Andersen says.

Strike a pose. Yoga is good for mind and body. It simultaneously stretches away stress and strengthens muscles. "Choose a yoga pose you like that feels comforting," Domar suggests. Assume the tree pose for balance or the downward-facing dog for a full-body stretch. Hold the pose for a few seconds, and feel stress drift away.

TAKE 5 for Your Health

Recruit a buddy. It's harder to bail out on your diet and exercise plan when you've got a friend egging you on. Partnering will help both of you achieve your goals.

Catch a catnap. Can't get your full seven to nine hours of sleep at night? Recharge with a catnap. Set your alarm for 20 to 30 minutes and enjoy some blissful midday slumber. Don't hit the snooze button, though. Napping too long in the daytime can interrupt your nighttime sleep.

Revisit your doctor. If you haven't seen your primary care doctor in a while, make an appointment. Discuss your weight, diet, and any problems you're having, and ask what screenings -- including blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar -- and vaccines you'll need in the coming year.

Drink up. "Staying hydrated is important for your skin as well as for your overall health," Friedman says. Every morning, fill a large bottle with 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of water. By the end of the day, you should be seeing bottom.

Work out. A 30-minute workout each day will keep your body looking and feeling its best. And getting that exercise early in the day will help you sleep better at night. 

Reviewed on December 02, 2011

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