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5 Little Changes, 5-Plus Big Results

By Sheryl Kraft

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Most of the time, we go about our days routinely and with little thought. We wake up, brush our teeth, pour ourselves some coffee or tea, eat breakfast (or not) and head off to work (or play).

Wash, rinse and repeat.

Sure, having a morning routine—or any routine for that matter—is an essential part of living a healthy life. But, did you ever stop to reexamine those everyday habits?

You may ask: Why fix it if it ain't broke?

Good reason: A few conscious changes to your routine can reap really big health benefits. Here are small tweaks or add-ons to consider the next time you're looking to kick your health up a notch—and they all require little to no effort!

1. Keep you cell phone out of reach for safer driving. Multitasking doesn't work—especially when you're driving. That can be serious and potentially dangerous. To resist the urge to email, text or make a call, keep your phone in a place where you won't be tempted to reach for it, like in your glove compartment.

If you must make a call, make sure you're using a hands-free feature (like Bluetooth or a headset) and use voice-activated dialing. Try to avoid complex or emotional conversations, which can be particularly draining and require a lot of your attention. Your full attention is needed to navigate the roads. Better yet, pull into a safe area where you can park your car and talk.

2. Try a new pillow to improve your sleep. The right pillow can be just as important as the right mattress—and make you just as comfortable or uncomfortable. Because there are so many types of pillows out there—down, foam, buckwheat, micro beads and more—it pays to find the best one for you. The right pillow should provide adequate cushioning for your head and neck and keep your head aligned with your shoulders and spine (as if you were standing upright with perfect posture). When buying a pillow, consider what type of sleeper you are—side, stomach or back.

3. Practice regular self-massage. Massage is undeniable in the benefits it brings to your health and well-being. Consider it a gift whose benefits go way beyond the obvious relief of muscle tension and pain: Studies have also found massage helpful in managing anxiety, headaches, temporomandibular joint pain, fibromyalgia, insomnia and soft tissue strains or injuries. This indulgence doesn't need to be occasionally relegated to a masseuse at an upscale health club or luxury spa. It's easy and handy (pun intended) to do it yourself and rub out your pain by using your thumb, palm or fingertips or a tennis ball or a foam roller. Or empower yourself further and try one of the excellent home products from Wahl, like its Hot/Cold Massager, which incorporates heat and cold and seven attachments so you can individualize your treatment to handle every body part that needs attention. Why two temperatures? Heat increases blood flow and loosens muscles, while cold reduces muscle swelling and inflammation.

4. Drink a full glass of water before each meal. Who can't use an extra glass or two of water? Water is an easy way to stay energized and focused. It also helps keep your skin looking good, helps maintain normal bowel function and can reduce your risk for kidney stones. Drinking before each meal is an easy way to remember to increase your fluid intake. An extra health perk of that added H20: it makes you feel a little fuller, so you're not tempted to overeat.

5. Use your TV time to be active. Just because you binge-watch Orange Is the New Black doesn't mean you have to be chained to your couch. Make that time count: stand (or sit) up; grab some light hand weights or a resistance band or use your own body weight to perform some squats and push-ups to get your muscles in on the action.

What are you doing to improve your health today and every day?

This post originally appeared on mysocalledmidlife.net.