We have times in our lives when we feel restless, frustrated or just…off. Times when we get so busy we forget to take care of ourselves, or are in a small depression over something. Sometimes, we just need to change something, and we don’t know where to start, or the idea of a major change is overwhelming. We all take steps to grow, mature, and better ourselves. Many of these steps and habits develop slowly over time, but some of them are conscious small choices, changes of focus and efforts we make every day. Even something small that becomes a regular habit can have a huge effect on your overall health and well being. Here’s a list of 25 Small Changes To Be A Happier Healthier Version Of Yourself.
Waking up even half an hour earlier can set your whole day on the right path. It gives you time to not rush in the morning, and therefore feel more in control of your entire day, and as a result, be less stressed.
Taking a bath or a long warm shower not only relaxes you and eases your stress, it can actually help you feel less lonely. Some experiences we have in social company such as love and acceptance give us a 'warm' physical sensation, and according to researchers at Yale University, taking a warm shower or bath can help return those normal social feelings. So if you're feeling rejected or unsupported, take a bath.
Trying something is new good for a whole host of reasons: it gives you a reason to be brave; it gives you a chance to overcome fear; it gives you a legitimate reason to be darn proud of yourself; it gives you a chance to meet new people you might not have otherwise; and, bonus, you might actually find a new extreme sport/food/hobby/band/religion that you really enjoy. Remember, Bob Ross was terrible at painting before he tried.
Eating and drinking the good stuff – dark chocolate, red wine, spicy food – can release endorphins. Obviously, all good things in moderation, but it makes you wonder if those spicy food people are just craving the endorphin high. Dark Chocolate also contains magnesium, which is good for headaches and stress in general. So if you feel a piece of dark chocolate and a glass of red wine is a good reward at the end of a hard day, you're right. If you're religiously inclined, the bible even says so in Ecclesiastes! "Seize life! Eat bread with gusto, Drink wine with a robust heart!"
Unplugging from social media and only picking up your cell phone to make or answer actual phone calls can be surprisingly beneficial to your mental health. Being too plugged in can lead to things like jealousy and envy, as well as feelings of loneliness and a fear of missing out. Not to mention being connected on social media or staring at your phone means your missing the life happening right in front of you. You could have a beautiful conversation with the mom and toddler in front of you in line, or brighten the cashier's day by asking how they are and meaning it. Don't miss those small but important human interactions, like eye contact and a shared laugh. Unplug a little. It's good for you.
Practice good hygiene as a habit. For someone people this is a big "DUH" and for others, they simply may not have been taught good habits growing up. Society is quick to jump on these people, but it's often lack of knowledge, not laziness. When you're well groomed, you feel better about yourself and that confidence shows in everything you do. You don't need a lot of money to make a face mask, or for simple things for a good skin care routine. Keep your nails trimmed and clean, exfoliate your body once a week and use a moisturizer. Some people can get by without any sort of antiperspirant or deodorant, but honestly, not many. Remember that by the time you smell your own body odor, everyone else has been able to smell it for about an hour. All primates – including humans – have grooming habits. It's an important way to take care of yourself daily.
Learning to say no is an important and powerful skill. We simply can't do everything, even things we really want to, even things people might imply we're obligated to do. Personal boundaries are a necessity and allow us to be in control of our own lives instead of just saying "yes" to anything that's asked of us. Learn what you can realistically handle. Learn how to identify what you want to do instead of what you feel obligated to do, and learn to say no without apologizing.
Laugh! Loud and often. Find a comedian or few you like that you can listen to when you're having a really bad or frustrating day. In India, they have groups of people that just stand around and LAUGH for the sake of laughter because it's THAT good for you! It reduces stress and releases a flood of happy endorphins into the the body and promotes bonding when shared.
We lose water for our system constantly. When we sweat, when we use the bathroom, and when you breathe. Even moderate dehydration can cause headaches and sleepiness, even in the middle of the day. Make sure you're drinking enough, and drink more water than anything else. If you're overweight, cutting soda or sugary coffee drinks from your diet can help you lose weight and feel better without making a huge change. Your body craves water; give it what it needs.
Getting at least 8 hours of sleep is vital to mental and physical health. People who don't get enough sleep suffer from a host of issues from hormone imbalance, weight gain, greater risk of heart disease and even, some studies have suggested, some types of cancer. Go to bed. Nothing good happens after 2 am anyway.
Read a book. It helps you relax, builds your vocabulary, gives you something to talk to others about, improves your memory, and recent studies have even shown that reading increases one's empathy towards others.
Eating well fuels your body and your brain. Complex carbohydrates like whole grains and vegetables are needed for us to think clearly and perform mental tasks well; protein is needed to maintain the body's muscle mass as well as provide amino acids for the brain. Fruits and vegetables provide a whole host of vitamins and minerals essential to us. Eat your veggies and don't skip breakfast!
The "lipstick effect" can be traced back to the great depression, and it basically boils down to people being willing to spend money on fancy lipstick to make themselves feel good, even when the economy is in the tank. Lipstick and cosmetic sales always do well during an economic decline because there's a psychological effect between looking your best and feeling your best. So buy a new tube of lipstick or get a haircut, even when things are tough. If you can't afford that, spend some time at home pampering yourself. You'll feel better.
Set goals and work towards them. Achievable, realistic goals. Write them down with a date and a three step plan, and then celebrate your victories. Writing down our goals gives us focus and a game plan, and according to a study of Harvard graduate students, it's a lot easier to fail if you don't have clearly defined, written down goals.
Try yoga. You know who can do yoga? Anyone. Fat people to thin people, toddler to geriatric, there's an adaptation or 15 minute beginners yoga routine on youtube somewhere that will fit your life and body, I promise. Doing yoga increases your flexibility and stamina, helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and helps you be in the moment – not tomorrow and not the rest of today's to do list. Try it for a week, see if you don't feel better.
Travel. Because everyone needs to step outside of the comfort zone, their culture, and their ideas. Traveling gives you a wonderful bit of perspective, teaches you to be resourceful in ways you wouldn't expect, and lets you disconnect from your daily grind and relax.
It could be a weekend retreat hiking in the mountains, a night out with friends, something as simple as taking a break to go grab a cup of coffee to clear your head, or reading over old journals to see how far you've come, but taking a step back and getting some perspective is a wonderful and important thing to learn to do.
Being able to cook for yourself, meal plan, and grocery shop are fundamental life skills that sadly, some people were not blessed to learn as children. Cooking for yourself is cheaper, healthier, and fun activity that can allow you to provide a basic need to people you care about. There are many sites online that have videos and tutorials to help you get started in the basics, learn to make meal plans, and feed yourself for very few dollars per day.
Don't make excuses for yourself or for anyone else. Own your mistakes and learn from them instead of making excuses. Be mature enough to aplogize without explination when you've done someone wrong. We all make mistakes; it's how we handle them and learn from them that makes us better people. Plus, when you turn a mistake into a valuable learning experience, you can stop feeling guilty over it because you've gained wisdom and moved on.
Learning to disagree well, and respectfully, is a skill that shows maturity and strength of character. It's also a skill that it seems like a large part of the US population may have forgotten to practice for the time being. When you can disagree respectfully, not only are you treating the other person like, you know, a person who's allowed to have different options. Even if you hate their opinions, you're releasing yourself from having to care beyond your one discussion.
Here’s a cute video explaining how and why learning to disagree is so important.