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Set yourself up for success with these self-care steps

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After months of holiday indulgence and doing things for others, isn’t it time for a little healthy self-care? A few easy steps can set yourself up for a year (or at least a month—or however long you manage to keep it up) of good habits that benefit you physically and mentally. Here’s a handful of very manageable and positive actions to take.

Set yourself up for successful sleep

Scientific studies have shown  that people who sleep seven hours a night are healthier and live longer. And not getting enough sleep is associated with health problems ranging from obesity and heart disease to depression and immune dysfunction.

So get your bedtime act in gear by making sure you’ve got a perfect pillow like Nest Bedding’s shredded foam Easy Breather Pillow ($85.60 on nestbedding.com), and treat yourself to some of the softest and warmest flannel sheets ever in Willow Supima Flannel Bedding (starting at $49 on garnethill.com).

And what about a pair of beyond-cozy pajamas? Check out the Women’s Super-Soft Shrink-Free Button Front Pajama Set ($79.99 on llbean.com) for that. Meanwhile, many swear by special sounds to drift off to. If white noise is your go-to, consider the Adaptive Sound Technologies LectroFan Premium White Noise Sound Machine ($46.44 on amazon.com).

Set yourself up for a successful beauty regimen

My bathroom sink is my personal sanctuary, so I want it to be well outfitted with plenty of gear for personal care. Everything I need—from my Waterpik Cordless Plus Waterflosser ($55.99 on bedbathandbeyond.com) and face masks (my current favorite is La Mer’s Hydrating Lotion Treatment, $35 for a single on bergdorfgoodman.com)–is within easy reach. But some of these routines take time, and I don’t like to get bored. So I put a TV on the wall and a speaker in my shower (the AquaAudio QZ-2Q0H-R3GO Cube Waterproof Bluetooth Wireless Speaker is $29.99 on amazon.com), which means I can sing along or even answer my phone while shaving my legs.

Set yourself up for friendships

An ongoing, 85-year study at Harvard shows that far more than wealth, intelligence, or income, it is our relationships that determine how happy we are. And that determines lots of other health factors. “Ample research shows that people who are more socially connected live longer and are more protected against stress, depression, and declines in memory and language,” reports The New York Times in a piece about the study. So carve out time to see old friends and make new ones, and to deepen your existing relationships. Join a club around an activity—from stitch ’n bitch sessions with knitters (my friends at thirdpiece.com in Wellesley do a great job setting up fun local events) to improv classes (there are great ones at improvboston.com). Or start up your own—a friend just decided to organize a twice-monthly weeknight poker game with friends.

Set yourself up to move

All you have to do to be healthier is just move more throughout the day. Get up and stretch and walk around every hour if you’re working at a desk. Stand and move from room to room if you get stuck on long phone calls. Put some music on and dance around the kitchen while you’re making dinner. And best of all, at lunchtime or on weekends, take a walk and catch up with a friend—this is a two-birds-with-one-stone winner, when you consider the above-described benefits of spending time with friends. Consider that a New Year’s self care bingo!

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