April 4, 2014 at 9:20 AM ET
Heading to work and anticipating traffic can stress you out before you even leave the house. These little “routines” can help you face any day...without even thinking about it.
Take five deep breaths before starting your day
Make it a practice to stop at the door (or even in your car, before you turn on the ignition) and take five deep breaths, says Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D, a psychologist based in Chicago and author of the soon-to-be -released Better Than Perfect: 7 Strategies to Crushing your Inner Critic and Creating the Life you Love. “This helps reduce stress, which contributes to or causes over 90 percent of illness.”
Take supplements when you brush your teeth
Do you have trouble remembering to take your vitamins? Keep your daily supplements near your toothbrush in the bathroom, so you’re reminded each morning to take them, suggests JJ Virgin, Ph.D, a nutrition expert in Los Angeles and author of The Virgin Diet. Do the same with medications you take on a regular basis.
Make your “lucky workout clothes” ready to go
You want to wear clothes that make you feel good, says Tom Holland, an exercise physiologist in New York and author of Beat the Gym. “Skip the unflattering, oversized tee-shirt and baggy shorts and find clothes that both flatter your body and enable you to move around according to your activity.” Set them out the night before (yes, like you did with your school clothes) so you’re motivated to hit the gym when you see them and not rummaging through the laundry basket in the morning.
Create “your” spot in class or on the gym floor
Find a spot in your favorite class and get there early to make it “yours,” says Holland. Maybe the lighting’s more flattering there, or you get a view of the rest of the gym, you can hear the instructor more clearly, etc. Having a spot you can call your own where you’re most comfortable makes it more likely that you’ll stick with the workout. There’s no shame in being a little particular about your spot.
Have a cocoa every morning
Need coffee to start the day? Try making it a mocha instead.
Keep a canister of cocoa near your coffee pot and get used to stirring in a tablespoon of it into your coffee suggests Dr. Steven Masley, a Florida physician and nutritionist and author of The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up. By making your daily pick-me-up a mocha coffee, you're getting your caffeine and ensuring that you do something good for your heart every day. Flavonals found in cocoa possess antioxidant properties, which help improve blood flow to the brain and heart, promoting heart health.
Stand up every time the phone rings
When the phone rings, make it a ritual to immediately stand up and walk around, recommends Holland. Sitting for long periods of time (30 to 60 minutes) triggers a cascade of reactions that dramatically drops your calorie burning to next-to-nil. And that's even if you exercise regularly! Sitting also links to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and adds pounds to your waistline.
Use dental floss in the shower
Remembering to floss is more likely to happen if you bring the floss into the shower with you. You’ll be reminded to “clean up” your mouth along with the rest of you. Brush your teeth in the shower, floss and use the shower head to remove bacteria from the front and back surfaces of your teeth, says Dr. Jacquie Fulop-Goodling, a N.Y. orthodontist. “A hand sprayer works as a water pick, and removes bacteria from the teeth.”