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Achievable New Year's Resolutions for Healthier and Happier Living

Updated: Mar 16

There are tips here that will calm you down and ease your stress, help your skin glow, and organize the crazy in your life, maybe you'll even pick up a cute new daily planner to stay on track! You'll find easy ways to squeeze a little more fitness into your busy days and sane strategies for decluttering. And if you are looking for ways to lose weight, we've got some surprising, fresh ideas that will help you get there.



This year, it's time to put you first. Let's have a look at these achievable 2021 new years resolutions.


Build a better budget.

If there's one New Year's resolution that will help you the most in the long run, it's making a vow to save more money. Before you head back to the office, outline a budget that works for you and make a plan for how you'll stick to it. Apps like Mint and You Need a Budget (YNAB) can help you do this as painlessly as possible.


Cook one new thing each week.

Everyone wants to eat healthier in the new year, but you should also try to eat more diverse foods. After all, variety is the spice of life. This year, choose an easy dinner recipe you've never tried before at least once a week.


Read more books.

January is the perfect time of year to snuggle up with a new book. Keep yourself accountable to this New Year's resolution by opening a Goodreads account and reviewing each book you read. By next year, you'll have a clear snapshot of how well you accomplished this goal.


Join a club.

Starting a new hobby is one thing, but joining a club will help you meet new people in the process. Sites like Meetup can help you find a group of people with similar interests, and you can work on creating digital meetups with new friends in the process.


Create a cleaning schedule you'll stick to.

Keeping your home tidy without doing what feels like a deep clean every week can feel like a big ask. It's true that you may be under cleaning some tricky spots, but it's also true that you may be overdoing it elsewhere. Carolyn Forté, the director of the Good Housekeeping Institute's Home Appliances & Cleaning Products Lab, created a printable checklist to make sure keeping the house neat doesn't suck up endless hours of time on weekends anymore.


Drink less alcohol.

You already know you don't need to drink to have fun and so why not make this year the one you cut back and join the sober curious movement? Doing so could improve your mood, sleep, skin, and immune system. Plus, it'll also help you save money.


Quit smoking.

Cigarettes are extremely harmful to your health, particularly your lungs but tobacco products in general (including vapes!) pose a serious threat. There are so many resources to help you get a jumpstart on ditching tobacco: Many are outlined by officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you've tried before but need a bit more help, experts at the American Cancer Society outline a few tools that you can turn to this year.


Eat veggies regularly.

Whether you're slimming down or just staying healthy, vegetables are your friends, says Mehmet Oz, M.D. One woman who appeared on his show — Tiffany, who lost 31 pounds — says, "I sauté onions, peppers, mushrooms, corn — whatever I have in the freezer — and toss that on a bed of baby arugula and spinach." Sounds delicious.


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Share your resolutions one-on-one.

"Some research shows that telling others your goal makes you feel like you've already achieved it," says Dr. Oz. But other studies indicate that sharing progress can help you keep going, he adds. Dr. Oz's advice: Confide in one friend, "then share achievements with others when you're on the road to success."


Try a new diet plan.

There are so many wonderful diet programs for you to explore in the new year, with the best options emphasizing more wholesome plates packed with fiber, essential nutrients, and plenty of greens. While they're not perfect for everyone, Keto diets have become majorly popular for those wishing to shed a few pounds, and fast. But dieters need to know how to do Keto right to avoid packing on the pounds when February arrives, which is where this essential guide (and meal plan!) comes in.


Book all your doctor's visits for the year.

Open your calendar app and make your appointments for the year in one sitting — not only will you get the anxiety-inducing nuisance over with, but exams will be less likely to get squeezed out as life gets bonkers. Start with your primary care provider, and ask which screenings (e.g., mammogram, colonoscopy) you're due for. Slot those in, then move on to the dentist's office, etc.


Take the stairs.

Take 10 minutes to run up the stairs in your office or home. A published study in the journal Physiology & Behavior found that tired women who climbed stairs for 10 minutes got a bigger energy boost than those who had the caffeine equivalent of a can of soda or half a cup of coffee (and burned calories too!).


Become a plant owner.

Swing by the garden center after brunch this weekend. Just the presence of indoor plants can lower human stress levels, research shows, and one study found that actively caring for plants calmed the autonomic nervous system and lowered blood pressure. And when people work near plants, they report greater concentration, satisfaction, and perceived air quality.


Plan a vacation ...

... when it feels safe to do so. Women who vacation at least twice a year have a lower heart attack risk than those who do so rarely. And researchers have found that even thinking about an upcoming trip can boost happiness for weeks.


Start doing yoga with your partner.

A Sunday morning couples' class could make Sunday afternoon much more fun. Experts at Loyola's Sexual Wellness Clinic believe partner yoga helps couples get more comfortable with each other's bodies, a boon for better sex. Solo yoga can increase enjoyment as well, affecting arousal, desire, and satisfaction — the practice helps relax your mind and strengthen pelvic muscles.


Drink more water.

You know you need to hydrate but it's especially important when you get only six hours of sleep (or less!). You’re more likely to be dehydrated the day after a short night of zzz's because a hormone that regulates your body’s water conservation is released in later stages of sleep. So down some extra water on those days.


Listen to novels while you work out.

Exercisers who saved an audiobook for the gym worked out 51% more often than those who didn't, per a study in Management Science. Sweat while listening to an intense thriller, and the treadmill time will fly by.


Lift weights.

If you're already nailed your cardio workouts in the past few years, why not try incorporating a new routine? A quality set of dumbbells can help elevate your workout, improve your stamina, and build muscle. Plus, they work well with many of the other gadgets in your home gym to reinvigorate your workout.


Decorate with family history.

In happy and long-lived cultures, people often display items from their families' pasts, says The Blue Zones of Happiness author Dan Buettner. "They remember and honor where they come from," he says. "We find that in happier cultures around the world, folks feel like part of a continuum." So hang your grandparents' wedding portrait, or put meaningful memorabilia on shelves.


Sanitize your phone weekly.

Like, now! We check our phones a gazillion times a day, and if you've taken yours into the ladies' room, you're not the only one. But that means phones carry about 10 times as much bacteria as most toilet seats, says Charles Gerba, Ph.D., a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona, Tucson. The GH Cleaning Lab likes Lysol Disinfectant Wipes, which kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria. They don't contain bleach, so they're safe to use on smartphones and tablets. Follow our expert's guide to cleaning your phone to ensure you do so safely.


Try hydrotherapy.

Feeling sore? Clients at The Spa at Rancho Valencia in Rancho Santa Fe, California, switch between 10 minutes in a hot sauna and 30 seconds in a 60°F bath, a treatment known as hydrotherapy. "The drastic temperature change increases blood flow and flushes out lactic acid," says spa director Kristi Dickinson, making them feel energized. Research suggests that hydrotherapy may aid in muscle recovery more than a day of rest. For at-home treatment, end a hot shower with a burst of ice-cold water.


Keep clutter out of the kitchen.

If you can hardly see your counters through all the papers, Post-its, and not-yet-put-away groceries, you may pay for that chaos on the scale. In one study, researchers found that when women were surrounded by clutter, they tended to eat more cookies, especially when stressed. Take 20 minutes to whisk it all where it belongs, and it can help you eat more mindfully in the days to come.


Explore new hobbies.

Another sleepy Sunday? Today's the day you try Ethiopian food, attend a ballet, or take a painting class — whatever feels fun. When researchers followed 7,500 people for 25 years, they found that those who complained of major boredom were roughly twice as likely to die from heart disease.


Give yourself a new look.

Working on your look is just as refreshing as turning over a new leaf internally. Taking off a few inches can make you feel (literally and figuratively) so much lighter in the new year. Even a simple new style or hair color could brighten your days and put the pep back into your step in 2021.


Invest in your skincare routine.

And no, we don't mean load up on foundation. Streamline your daily routine to allow yourself some time to incorporate products that really replenish your skin, not weigh it down. Rather than focusing on covering up, these kinds of tips and tricks can help you bare all — and feel really good about it.


Play upbeat music.

Blasting any happy-making tune can work multiple mind-body wonders including reducing pain during exercise, elevating mood, and lowering stress, research shows. So make a playlist, any songs that oat your spirit will do the job.


Write to yourself.

When your inner critic picks up her bullhorn, jot down the kind words you'd say to a friend in the same situation. "We have such a hard time channeling compassion for ourselves," says Emma Seppala, Ph.D., of Stanford's Center for Compassion and Altruism Research. "Writing it down makes it easier to shift perspective."


Do one thing at a time.

Multitasking doesn't make you more efficient, but it does stress you out, says mindfulness expert Pedram Shojai, author of Focus: Bringing Time, Energy, and Money Into Flow. "If your focus is fragmented, you'll likely find yourself getting anxious as new items come up when old ones are still incomplete," he says. Instead, he suggests, organize your activities into chunks of time, such as kid time and cooking time, and then "commit to being focused in those allotted minutes and see what happens."


Switch up your routine.

Any exercise is good for you, but one study found that people who worked out in multiple ways were less likely to have shortened telomeres, the DNA segments on the ends of chromosomes that tend to break down as we age (longer telomeres are thought to be an indication that a body is aging slowly). Sign up for remote tai chi, rock climbing, crew, and Pilates... so many choices!


Take more walks.

Even if you can't keep track of a new fitness routine, keeping yourself moving on a simple walk around the neighborhood is a must. The US Department of Health and Human Services maintains that adults should spend as much time moving each day as possible — and some physical activity (even just walking!) is better than none.


Make your bed every morning.

Yes, it's time to grow past the messy bed look! Mastering the art of making your bed will simply transform your space, but also kickstart a productive morning routine. Taking care of your pillows, sheets, and comforter is easy when you have an expert to show you how.


Give yourself more compliments.

Repeat after us: "Today is my day. I'm thankful for me." Positive self-talk can help you focus on what's good in your life, says psychologist Joy Harden Bradford, Ph.D. Research shows that a little vitamin G (for gratitude) can make you feel happier and more satisfied and even improve your sleep. "If you repeat an affirmation related to gratitude in the morning, you're likely to show and feel more of it throughout that day," Bradford says. You're so welcome!


nye resolutions

In a GH survey, 83% of people told us they lost track of how long they spent on their devices. But short of deleting all social apps, it can be hard to trade screen time for more productive pastimes like walking the dog and coffee with friends. Whether you’re Team iPhone or Team Android, download the latest software to access built-in tools that help you track your personal app usage.


Be current about current events.

It can be hard to keep up with what’s going on in the world given the lightning-fast news cycle, #fakenews, and our own hectic lives. But it’s more important than ever to stay informed. If you’re sick of sifting through clutter on Facebook or Twitter, join Flipboard. Think of it as your personal news hub. Download the app, then list your interests, pick outlets to get updates from, follow your fave Twitter users, and more. The app curates it all in one place with a smart, stunning design that makes scrolling easy.


Add more citrus to your grocery cart.

When you see all those gorgeous in-season grapefruits, oranges, clementines, and pomelos in the produce aisle, grab an armful. Winter citrus can help keep skin looking healthy thanks to vitamin C, which aids in collagen production. In fact, an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study found that people who ate foods high in C had fewer wrinkles and less age-related dry skin than those who didn't. Try clementine sections sprinkled with pistachios or sweet grapefruit dipped in Greek yogurt for a snack.


Try this trick for a better night's sleep.

Next time you have trouble nodding off, there’s a research-backed idea that could help: Take a hot bath! It helped people fall asleep about 10 minutes earlier and have a better quality snooze. The best time to do it? About an hour or two before bedtime, says other research.


Take more trips with no destination in mind.

This year is going to be all about the road trip — simply getting out into the world around you for quiet time alone in nature. Travel overseas might be off the itinerary for a while, but a solo trip in the car is a great way to get out for a change of pace. Hit the road and forget social media!


Ease stress with kindness

Kindness toward yourself! Recent research shows that practicing self-compassion slowed people’s heart rate and sweating, two symptoms our bodies produce when under chronic stress. So take some time each day to focus on something you love about yourself.


Get artsy. To help ward off the blues, engage in a bit of culture, a trip to the museum, a night at the theater, or attending a concert. A new study found that people who make regular trips to these types of attractions have a lower risk of developing depression than those who don’t.

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