It’s that time of year when healthy living magazines and websites start promoting their annual cleanses. This usually involves some sort of elimination diet, juice cleanse or other unsustainable nutrition plan. While following these plans for 5 days may make you feel healthy at the time, it’s not realistic to think that you could live like that forever. Healthy living starts with happiness, energy, fulfillment and self-care, but not diet-style detoxes. That’s why this year I want to encourage you to skip the juice cleanse, and try a whole-life-cleanse that establishes simple daily habits to keep you healthy and happy all year long.

Start your whole-life-cleanse by following the four simple steps below:

  1. Cook a New Recipe Instead of Ordering Takeout

Home cooking is at the top of my list, because it’s one of the most important healthy living choices that you can make. While cooking at home keeps you aware of what you’re putting into your body, (and let’s avoid those unhealthy trans fats and highly processed “Franken foods”), it’s also really fun and rewarding. Start by choosing one new dish to try this week, and expand your repertoire once you feel more confident in the kitchen!

  1. Read a Novel Instead of Watching Television

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good TV show as much as the next girl. But the simple switch of picking up a book, instead of a remote, can have major lifestyle benefits.

Reading is an active mental process that boosts creativity, increases vocabulary, and improves concentration and focus. Compared to watching television at night, which can overstimulate the brain, reading calms your mind and can improve the quality of your sleep. Reading is my favorite way to detach from a day of digital distraction and feel centered and content; it is not only relaxing, but helps you overcome those less than healthy nightly habits, such as boredom-induced overeating.

  1. Go for Walk Instead of Surfing the Internet

Chances are that you spend hours on your computer each day; so once you get home, the last thing your eyes and brain need is to log on to another screen. Taking an afternoon or evening walk is a great way to signal to yourself that you’ve left your work day behind, and are ready to start a relaxing evening routine.

In all honesty, it can be hard to make yourself step away from the computer. I know that those emails can feel urgent, or you just want to check Instagram one more time, so you literally might need to set an alarm that reminds you to stop what you’re doing, and head out for a stroll around the block! It leads me to my final whole-life-cleanse challenge for you …

  1. Leave Your To-Do-List and Make a Date with Friends

Your health and happiness will skyrocket this year by taking control of how you spend your time. When you feel like a slave to your list of errands, chores and work deadlines, you’re missing out on the lifestyle moments that bring you the most joy. Believe me, those to-do-lists will never end, so it will be up to you to decide when you’re going to put them down, and pick up the phone to make a date with family or friends.

I hope that you try my four tips for a 2016 whole-life-cleanse, and I’d love to hear about your favorite one in the comments below.

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