Would you like to feel healthier and happier?
Feeling healthier and happier does not require a lot of money or time – it just takes a little desire, motivation and planning. Have a read of some of my suggested lifestyle changes below, decide which ones appeals to you the most, then work them gradually into your life.
Be giving to others
Find ways, even if they are small, to give to others. Stop to talk with someone and lend an ear, offer to assist a friend in need or volunteer at a local charity. You will begin to view your own problems with a new perspective. You will feel better about yourself by realising that you can make a difference to the lives of others.
Nourish your friendships
Just like a loving relationship, friendships take nurturing. Neglect a friendship and you will lose a friend. See your friends on a regular basis or when it fits in with your schedule. If you are single or seeing friends as a couple, you might like a weekly get-together. The important thing is that you have strong friendships to help buffer life’s challenges.
Reach out and touch someone
Being in physical contact with someone you care about is an automatic stress reliever. Hugs and holding hands with the people you love is therapeutic for both of you. It is extremely effective at healing sickness, loneliness, depression and anxiety. But did you know that a massage can also boost your immune system?
Do something different
New experiences make us much happier than possessions. Weekend activities are like mini holidays. They are important to recharge your mind and body. They do not need to be expensive to be effective. The important thing is to do something new and have a change of scenery. You could go for a walk at a park you haven’t been to before or seek out new social interactions.
Reconnect with yourself
Reconnecting with yourself is about slowing down and taking time out so you can get to know you. Ask yourself daily: ‘How am I doing?’ Then sit in silence without scrolling on your phone, without listening to music – without doing anything other than listening to your heartbeat and learning about what makes you happy.
Be active at work
Sitting all day is unhealthy for both your mind and body. Get up and walk around every hour for a couple of minutes. Make a cup of tea or get a glass of water. How about starting a walking group with your co-workers? If you are unable to take a walk during your lunch hour, at least take a break away from your work environment.
Did you know that you can trick your brain into feeling happy with a very easy exercise? Just smile. Don’t believe it? Try it. A smile triggers the brain to feel the same feelings it did the last time your smiling muscles were used. This releases endorphins, immediately improving your mood. Smiling also helps your immune system to function more effectively.
Declutter your home
Declutter your bedroom for a more comfortable, relaxing place to sleep. Clean your desk or pay those bills you keep putting off. Set aside 15 minutes a day for decluttering. Remember, the most difficult step is getting started. You will be amazed at how great you’ll begin to feel as your life becomes less cluttered.
As an adult, your body needs seven hours of sleep each night. Getting enough sleep will enable you to do your best work and help you to handle daily challenges. If you sleep for less than seven hours per night, it can greatly affect your health, even if you are just a little sleep-deprived.
Relax for an hour before bedtime
Turn off the internet at least an hour before you go to bed. Try not to exercise just before bedtime, as this increases your circulation. You need to clear your mind, so read a book or magazine to wind down. Consider switching your shower to the morning and in the evening take a relaxing bath with some magnesium salts.
Monitor your caffeine intake
If you have difficulty sleeping, caffeine could be the culprit. Try cutting back on caffeinated drinks and limit yourself to drinking them early in the day. If that doesn’t help, try cutting out caffeine altogether and substituting caffeinated beverages with products such as decaffeinated coffee or herbal tea.
Avoid trans fats. Eating foods containing trans fats can make you feel depressed. Trans fats are used in many processed foods. Have a read of the label, as trans fats are contained within ingredients with the word ‘hydrogenated’ in them. Instead, choose to eat a colourful array of locally produced fresh fruits and vegetables.
Eat more superfoods
Plan to include more vitamin-packed superfoods in your diet. These foods not only keep you healthier and more energised, but many of them combat stress. Once a week, try a new recipe using a superfood and add it to your meal planning. Try foods such as salmon, kale, mushrooms, broccoli, avocados, beans, walnuts and wholegrains.
Spend time with nature
Your local park is a great place to spend some time. But the less manicured and more ‘natural’ the area, the better it is for your wellbeing. While you are there, take time to look up and pay attention to the sounds, sights, and smells. Find five things that are unusual enough to tell someone about and take photos or videos.
Dig in the dirt
Getting your hands dirty can make you feel happier – honestly! There is a naturally occurring microbiome in garden soil containing mycobacterium vaccae. Exposing yourself to this microbe by digging around in the dirt impacts happiness by triggering your brain to produce more serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps to improve mood. Also, your gut has its own microbiome and a healthy one can improve your cognitive function, so up your intake of fermented foods to give it a boost.
Get some vitamin D
Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This can cause depression during the winter months. Even if you don’t suffer with SAD, you can be affected by the lack of sunshine. Go outside for at least 15 minutes a day and get some sun on your face. The sun helps your body produce vitamin D, which many people have a deficiency of.
Lighten up a little
Blow off a little steam occasionally. Start a water fight, run a race for life, blow bubbles, throw a frisbee, go sledging or practise using a skipping rope. If that doesn’t appeal to you, then organise a family games night – play board games that make you laugh. Whatever it is that makes you smile spontaneously, do it. Don’t take life or yourself too seriously!
How are you going to bring a little bit of health and happiness into your life?
How about keeping a journal and noting the changes you have made? Write down how these changes have made you feel. When you start to feel discouraged, read back over your entries to remind yourself of all the things you have accomplished.
Have a healthy and happy 2020!