Hourly suggestions for making your day—and maybe someone else’s—better.
6 a.m.: LOSE THE SNOOZE. The standard nine-minute-reprieve you get every time you slap the snooze button isn’t long enough to provide restful sleep. If that’s not reason enough to kick the snooze habit, consider this: If you snooze just twice a day, in one workweek you’ll accrue 90 minutes of lost time. That’s enough for three 30-minute workouts.
8 a.m.: EAT BREAKFAST. Brain images presented at the Neuroscience 2012 conference suggest that your brain’s pleasure-seeking cortex is more likely to be activated by pictures of high-calorie food when you skip the day’s first meal and that you’re more likely to consume more and higher-calorie food at lunchtime. For a great carrot breakfast bread recipe turn to page 30.
9 a.m.: MAKE A NEW FRIEND. Strike up a conversation with another customer or the barista while you’re standing in line at the coffee shop. A University of British Columbia study found that interacting with strangers can boost your mood—and theirs—which is also good for your health.
12 p.m.: DITCH YOUR DESK. According to studies published in the journals Circulation and Diabetologia, the more time a person spends seated every day, the greater his or her risk of developing coronary heart disease and diabetes. Use your lunch hour to get up from your desk and take a walk—even if it’s just around the building or to the picnic table outside.
3 p.m.: SNIFF AWAY THE STRESS. When afternoon tension begins to peak, take a whiff of lemon, basil, juniper or lavender. Studies conducted in Japan suggest that linalool extract, which is present in all of those substances, can normalize levels of neutrophils and lymphocytes, which elevate in stressful situations and can lead to dangerous inflammation.
5 p.m.: CLEAN YOUR OFFICE. A 2004 study by NEC-Mitsubishi determined that messy or chaotic workspaces contribute to ill health. Toward the end of the day, take five minutes to organize your desk, and wipe down surfaces with a cleanser so they’re clean when you get to work the next morning.
6 p.m.: TAKE YOUR FIBER. Eating a high-fiber food such as a cup of raspberries or taking a fiber supplement 15 minutes before you eat dinner will help you feel fuller, so you won’t overeat your evening meal.
8 p.m.: FEED THE HOMESLESS. You don’t have to volunteer at a soup kitchen to help the needy. Get your family together in the kitchen, make a dozen PB&J sandwiches, and place them in plastic sandwich bags with inspirational or heartwarming notes. Then go for an evening drive and hand them out to the homeless in your town. For less than $10 in groceries and an hour of your time, you can make sure those people won’t go to bed hungry tonight.
10 p.m.: SOCK IT UP. A 1999 study published in the journal Nature found that warm feet promote the rapid onset of sleep. If counting sheep doesn’t help you catch some Zs, consider slumbering in stocking feet.