Kick-starting a healthy New Year's resolution often involves grand changes like signing up to that tough new workout class or resolving to eliminate nasties from your diet, but sometimes subtle lifestyle shifts can be just as powerful.
Consider you home: The items you surround yourself with might be the result of years of thoughtless accumulation, but your environment can have a big impact on your health. A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that clutter affects your ability to focus and overloads your visual cortex, while another suggests that people who live in a neat space are twice as likely to make healthier food choices.
So, before you resolve to overhaul your diet or transform your workout routine, turn your attention to the home. Toss, recycle, or donate these 13 items for a healthier, happier, clutter-free 2017.
If you've been using the same water filter for more than 60 days, it's time to replace it. Filters lose their ability to remove toxins from the water after too much use, so be sure to mark your calendar when you buy a new one.
The kitchen sponge is one of the dirtiest items in your home, studies reveal. "They get wet and stay moist, so bacteria grow like crazy. The most E. coli and other fecal-based bacteria in the average home are on a sponge or cleaning cloth," says Charles Gerba, MD, a microbiologist and a professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
A Cornell University study found that the size of plates and bowls can have a dramatic impact on the amount of food we eat. Participants who ate from smaller dishes consumed 30% less food without reporting any noticeable change in hunger. Stash away large plates and bowls for special occasions, and replace them with a smaller set for everyday use.
Research suggests that sleeping in total darkness is crucial to let your body rejuvenate and function properly. Block out street lights with think blinds, and turn off any devices that emit an artificial glow for a truly restorative sleep.
If you start each day by staring at your closet and deliberating about what to wear, it's time to cleanse your wares. Put off-season clothing in storage, and donate any items you haven't touched in the last six months. Utilize the space with hangers and clear storage boxes to streamline your morning routine and reduce decision fatigue—CEOs swear by this method.
Take the first step toward improving your diet by tossing high-salt condiments, like ketchup. A tablespoon-size serving has four grams of sugar, which is more than a typical chocolate chip cookie. What's more, many contain high fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to an increase in appetite and weight gain. Instead, swap pre-made sauces for spices or your own homemade dressing.
Scientists agree—your cluttered home could have a serious impact on your stress levels and mental well-being. A UCLA study found that women who live in a messy environment have high levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Set aside an hour to clear countertops, and use trays to sort clutter in high-traffic areas.
Don't let holiday leftovers linger in your fridge and pantry for too long—it'll just delay your efforts to eat healthier in the New Year. Donate pre-packaged entertaining supplies like chips and cookies, and invest in a healthy cookbook to inspire your new meal plan.
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Environmental Working Group investigated more than 2000 cleaning products and found that many contained substances linked to serious health issues. Give your laundry a health-conscious upgrade with all-natural cleaning supplies, like this non-toxic, allergen-free set.
If you're guilty of infrequently washing your sheets, it could be time for a replacement set. Sweat and oil from your skin can stain pillowcases and sheets, making now the opportune time to update them.
Take stock of your medicine cabinet and toss any out-of-date medication and beauty supplies. Invest in matching canisters to keep cotton buds and wipes dust-free.
Clean out your kitchen appliance drawer once and for all, and donate items you haven't used in the last year. Display any devices that might help you achieve your healthy New Year's goals on the countertop, to encourage you to use them more often.
Do you have any other decluttering tips? Let us know in the comments below.