At the beginning of each year, people always start with the same kind of resolutions.

  • exercise more
  • eat healthily
  • drink less alcohol

If you’ve followed me for some time, you know I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions but choose a Word of the Year instead.

Besides the word of the year, the secret to a happy and healthy life are your daily habits. They may be small habits, but they can alter your life tremendously. So below are few simple tips to stay (or become) happy and healthy.

• Eat your fruit and vegetables.

I admit that the recommended 5 a day are not always easy to attain. But you can be creative and turn the fruit into a smoothie or the vegetable into a puree which makes them easier to eat. Especially rich in all sorts of vitamins and other good stuff are Kiwi’s, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, etc.

Mix a kiwi with a banana and eat it on a sandwich or bagel.

Eat the fresh spinach leaves as a salad with cherry tomatoes, nuts and raisins.

It doesn’t always have to come the original boring way.

Have meals devoid of meat and replace it with tofu.

Eat like an Okinawan as they seem to be the healthiest and longest living people on our planet.

• Drink

Drink lots of water.

Drink before you get thirsty.

Drink a lot after you wake up in the morning to cleanse your body.

If you find still water bland, drink sparkling.

Drink (green) tea.

Put some fruit through the juicer and add sparkling water or buy fresh fruit juices.

Avoid sodas at all cost.

• Work out

Walk.

At least 30 minutes a day. Walking or running is the cheapest sport in the world as you don’t need to buy any equipment.

Don’t take the elevator – see the stairs as free exercise for which you would have to pay in a gym.

If you are heavy or have leg problems, go swimming instead. Advantage: no weight on your knees and ankles and you don’t sweat

Believe me, after a while this becomes a drug. You can also clean the house (washing windows, vacuuming energetically etc) or work in the garden. Alternate cardio days (running, swimming etc) with muscle training (arms, legs, abs, butt) to reinforce your stature and help avoid back pain. I personally alternate running through the woods with yoga.

• Reconnect with nature

Go outside, walk through the fields and the woods. Don’t come back until your cheeks are red (in winter) or your skin feels warmed by the sun (in summer). Human beings need daylight – it lifts your spirit and gets you in a good mood. A walk during a cold or windy day can do wonders for a headache. Breathe in all the smells of nature, hug a tree, feel the mossy ground beneath your feet.

• Pamper your body

Schedule a full body massage, get a pedicure or a foot reflexology treatment, get a chiropractor to check your back, get a new haircut, take a bath, do some stretching or yoga. Your body needs time to relax and refill its batteries and your mind will benefit from it at the same time.

• Sleep

If you feel tired in the afternoon, you probably did not get enough sleep during the night. For some a good night’s sleep may be 8 hours, for others 6 are enough. Listen to your body and make it easier by eating light and preferably 3 hours before going to bed. Make sure the room is dark enough.

If you tend to wake up a lot at night try changing the orientation of the bed. Put a glass of water on the bedside table (you loose a whole lot of fluids during the night). Calm your mind before going to sleep (by reading etc). If you can and feel like it, take an afternoon nap. 20-30 minutes are enough. Have a light lunch to avoid the afternoon dip.

• Stimulate your brain

Memorize a poem, song or quote every other day.

Ask a childlike question and look it up to learn a new fact every day (why is the sky blue? What sound does a giraffe make etc).

Do calculations such as 53 + 98 without using a calculator.

Do some exercises on optical illusions.

Don’t watch television at least one evening per week and come up with something else to do (play monopoly with your kids, read a book, call your mom).

• Be creative

Paint, sing, write. Create a creative journal. Start scrapbooking.

Take a course to learn how to draw with the right side of your brain.

Get inspiration from SARK.

• Smile and laugh

Smile. A lot. Use those muscles that pull up the corners of your mouth.

Smile when you answer the phone: it can be heard in your voice.

Smile at the person you dislike (not a smile from between clenched teeth, but an honest one).

Smile at everyone at work and let them think what they want.

The more you smile the better your mood becomes.

Laugh. A lot. Watch a lot of funny shows or films. Read funny stories or jokes. Laughing can cure the worst diseases.

More links:

Do the wellness inventory

Scientific study on how happiness affects our health

Play your stress away and enjoy peace of mind with these games