New Year's Eve is, decidedly, one of the most stressful nights of the year: we pile on the pressure to execute out-of-the-ordinary, over-the-top plans, find the perfect person to kiss at midnight and welcome the new year with an enthusiasm that we hope will foreshadow the next 364 days. Oh, and we need to document it all on social media.
"The bar is set fairly high, and it can be difficult to achieve this as a goal," says Steven Meyers, professor of psychology at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Ill. "To make matters more stressful, this celebration -- and the resolutions that accompany it -- are supposed to have a symbolic value that is a harbinger for the year to come."
What's more, he explains to HuffPost Healthy Living in an email, this night can trigger us to look back on the year before, often in a less-than-positive light: "Many people typically take stock of themselves at New Year's and can easily fall short of their expectations," he says. "They recall failed diets, exercise equipment that has become dusty, and bad habits that have returned."
But with our already over-scheduled lives, why would we want the first moments of the new year to be filled with anxiety and impossible-to-meet expectations? "There is no need for a 'one size fits all' mentality for ringing in the New Year," Meyers says. "If the goal is to be happy, it is important to re-evaluate our self imposed expectations."
In that spirit, the HuffPost Healthy Living editors rounded up 13 things that just aren't worth stressing about this New Year's Eve. We'll toast to a 2013 with less stress, please.
Not having plans. Ordering takeout, buying champagne and watching the ball drop in your warm living room can actually be fun, especially if it's with the people you love. (And the dress code is comfier too.)
Being alone. Just because you're solo for one night doesn't mean you're doomed to a lifetime of loneliness. Don't give New Year's Eve any more significance than any other night of the year.
Staying up past midnight. When you wake up it will be 2013 and you can send all your loved ones happy new year texts in the morning.
The extra few pounds you're carrying from the holidays (or, as The Atlantic Wire is calling it, "holiday bloat"). Everyone has it, and no one is noticing it but you. Let it go, then resolve to resume your healthy lifestyle in 2013.
Having no one to kiss at midnight. It's way better than having the wrong person.
Spending hundreds of dollars. If money's tight, don't blow a month's (or more) worth of going-out money on one night. It'll be over in a few hours.
Drinking champagne -- the bubbly stuff isn't for everyone. Pick a drink you actually like, and enjoy (in moderation, please).
Texting everyone you know. You can say "Happy New Year" when you first see them after January 1. No big deal.
Getting dressed up. Didn't you do that enough over the holidays? Wear your favorite thing -- whether it's a dress, jeans or something else. It'll be easier on the wallet, too.
Documenting every moment on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. You'll have more fun being in the present than on your phone, and surely someone else has snapped a photo for you to have for memory's sake.
Being responsible for anyone else's good time. Just because someone asks you what your plans are doesn't mean you need to invite them along.
Watching the ball drop, if it's not your thing. The same thing happens every year, no need to be glued to the screen.
Buying special 2013 hats and glasses and poppers. It'll all be outdated in a day anyway.
And one more for good measure...
Not having fun. It's just one day. If it's bad, then, hey, 2013 can only get better.
Tell us in the comments: What are you doing for a stress-free New Year's Eve?
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Raspberry ketones, a very popular supplement, were featured on no less than Dr. Oz's show as a healthful fat-buster. The problem? There's no clinical evidence that suggests that ketones -- an aromatic compound found in red raspberries -- <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/29/raspberry-ketone-dr-oz_n_1388258.html">will have their intended effect in humans</a>. All research has been conducted in cell cultures, making any extrapolation for people purely theoretical. In 2013, let's stick to known fat-loss methods, like aerobic exercise and a balanced diet.
Feeding Tube Diet
Also known as the K-E Diet (short for Ketogenic Enteral Nutrition), this short-lived trend diet reached a fever pitch in 2012 after the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/18/k-e-diet-does-it-work_n_1432790.html">New York Times profiled several women who used a nasogastric feeding tube</a> -- developed to feed the gravely ill or injured -- in order to lose weight. The diet, which is only available at one Florida clinic, works by slowly feeding the dieter with a fat- and protein-based solution, accounting for 800-calories per day over a 24-hour period. The developer of the diet, Dr. Oliver R. Di Pietro, allows patients to eat nothing else besides water, unsweetened tea and black coffee. He claims that a person can lose 20 pounds or 10 percent of their weight. In 2013, let's avoid quick weight-loss schemes and instead make undramatic, but lasting changes to our diets, using real food that enters through our mouths.
Don't get us wrong -- isolated muscle contractions aren't <em>bad</em> for you. But they also aren't going to get you a ballet dancer's physique, as many isometric-based "barre" classes promise. And that tell-tale "shake," that barre classes advertise? That doesn't mean you're getting stronger, necessarily -- <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/15/muscle-shaking-causes_n_2140397.html?utm_hp_ref=health-problems">just that your muscles are fatigued</a>. In 2013, let's get the most out of our workouts with a combination of cardio and resistance training. And for any meaningful weight loss, diet is just as important as exercise.
In September, a Stanford University study released data suggesting that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/14/is-organic-food-healthy_n_1881046.html?utm_hp_ref=health-problems">conventionally-grown food was just as nutritious as organically-grown food. </a> But before you ditch the pesticide-free veggies in your grocery aisle, consider several of the complicating factors that rendered the study inconclusive: other studies <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07352689.2011.554417?journalCode=bpts20#tabModule">found different results</a>; many nutrients that other studies found to be more prevalent in organic food than in conventional <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/13/stanford-organics-study-public-health_n_1880441.html?utm_hp_ref=health-news&ir=Health%20News">weren't even included in the study</a>; and other health concerns beside nutrition -- like pesticide-load -- are much less prevalent in organics. In 2013, let's continue to reduce our exposure to pesticides, agricultural hormones and other toxicants in the food supply.
Passing On Vacation
A recent vacation survey found that <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/15/travel/vacation-deprivation-study/index.html">Americans are getting fewer vacation days</a> -- just 12, compared to last year's 14 -- and are taking fewer as well. In 2012, the average person will take just 10 days. And that's not healthy. Vacation, with its opportunity to unplug and recharge, is an important tool for stress management. In 2013, let's take all of our vacation days -- and use them to focus on our and our family's wellbeing.
Sensa sprinkles are tiny crystals made with maltodextrin, tricalcium phosphate and silica, and flavored to taste like a number of unhealthy comfort foods like cheddar cheese, ranch dressing, cocoa and malt. The maker of Sensa, a popular diet supplement this year, purports that its product works by tricking the brain into believing it is eating these unhealthful foods. <a href="http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/truth-about-sensa">Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence to support that claim</a>.
Juice Fasts For Weight Loss
Many celebrities <a href="http://ht.ly/ggkpv">and supermodels</a> swore by the weight-shedding powers of juice cleanses this year. These diets involve consuming nothing but juice, water and sometimes tea for anywhere from three to 14 days. And research shows that while they may cause temporary weight loss -- and even temporary drops in <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/08/are-juice-cleanses-safe_n_1264051.html">LDL "bad" cholesterol and triglyceride levels</a> -- everything returns to normal after returning to food. In 2013, we'll drink juice because it can be a nutrient powerhouse and a great supplement, but not because it will help us lose weight.
Gluten-Free Eating For Weight Loss
Celiac sufferers and those with non-Celiac gluten sensitivity need to avoid the wheat protein for their health. But when Miley Cyrus said earlier this year that she'd lost weight because of a gluten-free diet, she fell into a common misconception about gluten-free eating. If you already have a healthy diet, <a href="http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2012/04/11/is-a-gluten-free-diet-smart-for-weight-loss">gluten-free diets will not aid weight loss</a>. For those who subsist mostly on pasta, pizza and other gluten-filled foods, a change to gluten-free lean proteins and veggies will obviously lead to weight loss -- though it won't be the lack of gluten that's shedding the pounds. In 2013, let's eliminate whole nutrients and food groups only when medically necessary.
Forcing High-Intensity Circuit Training
P90X continued its surge in popularity, thanks to celebrity endorsements and one very publicly pro-P90X Vice Presidential candidate. Offshoots like the DVD program Insanity and in-gym systems that use the same philosophy of high-intensity circuits -- like Crossfit -- <a href="http://if-fit.com/why-is-crossfit-exploding-in-popularity/">also saw increased popularity</a>. And while interval training is a healthy, efficient way to condition, it isn't the only way and it isn't appropriate for everyone. In 2013, let's mix our fitness program with some lifestyle changes that promote activity all day long -- not just at the gym or in front of a fitness DVD, but out in the world too. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/18/low-impact-exercises_n_1434616.html">Even low-impact activities can do wonders</a>.
Diagnosing Via Phone App
Smartphone apps can help us keep track of our workouts, maintain our food diaries, track fertility cycles, remind us to quit smoking and even help monitor our sleep. But that doesn't mean the full knowledge of a medical education has been crammed into the sleek, rectangular machine. And new research suggests that, on balance, those apps spread a great deal of misinformation. For example, one investigation found that one in five <a href="http://www.protectpatientsblog.com/2012/11/want_bad_health_advice_theres_1.html">health and medical apps that were on the market since mid-2011 claimed to cure or treat an actual medical condition</a>. Those claims remained unregulated. In 2013, let's use our cell phones to play great workout mixes and keep track of our running routes and meals. But let's leave the diagnosing to the professionals.