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Be a Healthier, Happier You

We live in what many would describe as a stressful time. I don’t disagree, however we often make things even more stressful by some of our choices. I have a list of 20 things you can do that will enhance your daily experience, make the day a little easier, lighter, and hopefully more joyful. To become a healthier happier you, read on!

1. Hydrate

There are a lot of benefits from drinking enough water. When you’re hydrated, it’s easier to focus on your tasks. Research shows that many people are actually dehydrated and sometimes we mistake the need for fluids as hunger. Drinking your daily eight glasses of water will not only help improve your focus, it may help you feel less fatigued and will help to flush toxins out of your body.

2. Be More Flexible

Be more flexible both mentally and physically. Rigid thinking, needing to always do things a certain way, wanting to control the way others do things just creates stress on everyone. It can make you feel really frustrated or angry when you want things to go a certain way and that doesn’t happen.things. So check in, are you being a bit too controlling, are your expectations realistic, will it really matter if the forks are in the dishwasher with the tines down or up?

Physical flexibility is also important and yoga is a great way to get there. Not only is it good for your joints yoga increases stamina and tones your muscles. Yoga can be a great stress relieving workout, it increases bone strength, which helps prevent osteoporosis. Plus, yoga has been shown to boost your immune system. It is also a great way to practice mindfulness.

3. Get Some Sleep

Lack of sleep can lead to fatigue, weight gain, and bad moods. Any one of these can lead to having a bad day. Most of us need a minimum of 7 hours, but shoot for 8 and even 9 on occasion. If you can’t do that right now, focus on setting your bedtime fifteen minutes earlier each night until you’re snoozing for eight hours.

Trouble sleeping? Try working on your sleep hygiene. Thirty minutes before you want to go to bed, turn off all your electronics, wash your face, brush your teeth, drink a cup of chamomile tea. Do the same routine the last 30 minutes before you head hits the pillow and you will be soon start to send a signal to your brain that it’s bedtime as soon as you start the bedtime routine. Some people find it helpful to read something positive before they sleep. Others enjoy listening to music or nature sounds. You may also want to play a guided meditation once you’re in bed to help you relax.

4. Energize Your Body, Try Some Zumba

Finding fun ways to move your body like Zumba for example help lower your stress level, lower your blood sugar, strengthen your muscles and may even help you lose some weight. It will also likely put a smile on your face and lighten your mood leaving you feeling uplifted and in good place mentally and emotionally.

Even if you can’t fit in a zumba class, getting up and walking around throughout the day for a couple of minutes will help you stay energized and lessen fatigue.

5. Get Organized

If you are constantly feeling like you are burning the candle at both ends getting organized will be one of the nicest gifts you can give yourself towards better mental, emotional, and physical health. For instance planning meals can take away the evening stress of what do we eat and can really help if you desire to have a healthier lifestyle. Meal planning helps you to develop a shopping list so you’re prepared at the grocery store and have all the ingredients at home when it’s time to cook.

If your environment is cluttered, it can be challenging to keep your focus or feel relaxed. Create a project list to start to reclaim your home or office space by getting rid of things you no longer need or want. It can be done over time so it doesn’t feel like an overwhelming task. Just starting the process will likely help you feel a sense of accomplishment. If the budget allows, a professional organizer might be worth it.

6. Be Mindful

Mindfulness is present moment awareness without judging the situation, just being here in the now and being in acceptance of what is. A great place to experiment with the idea of mindfulness is meal time. It’s easy to overeat if you’re multi-tasking and not paying attention to your body’s natural hunger and satiety cues. Instead enjoy the sensations around food, the smell, sight, the taste, savor your food and listen to your body, stay focused on the moment.

When you catch yourself off in the future worried about the what ifs. Try to bring yourself back into the now. What is right about the present moment? What if you allowed yourself to be here and now and let go of the fear of the unknown future?

7. Get Creative

Creativity releases stress. Creativity comes in many forms, we tend to think of artistic projects, but playing a musical instrument, writing, photography, or even rearranging the room can be creative. The act of creating is not only fun, but also satisfying. So try getting out of the box and let your creative side play.

If getting creative seems like too much of a stretch, just think of something you love doing and give yourself permission to do that. Whether it’s exercising, reading, or putting together puzzles, you’ll feel more joyful doing something you love daily even if it is for a short time.

8. Start A Happiness Journal

Just keeping a journal in general can be a great way to help improve your mood. Taking the time to write out thoughts has proven to be a great strategy for many. A happiness journal focuses on the things that are going well in your life, the things you are grateful for, the positive experiencesyou remember from the past. You can even put in pictures of friends, pets, favorite places. Consider keeping a list of things that make you happy each day. When you are feeling like you need a smile, pull it out and open it up.

9. Learn to Say “No”

Having difficulty saying no to others is also a huge stressor for many people. Saying yes to everyone often leads to feeling taken advantage of and feeling unappreciated. Think of saying no to others as saying Yes to Yourself. When you can say yes to yourself you will have more to give to others.

Let go of the idea that it’s selfish to put you first, it is actually an act of self care and self-love, something many of us struggle with. If you have real difficulty saying no, start with, “Let me think about it and I will get back to you tomorrow”, and do just that, think about does this serve me to do this. If it doesn’t, it is okay to say no and not feel the need to give an excuse. It just doesn’t fit in my schedule right now, is all you need to say.

10. Disconnect Once In Awhile

I know people that are checking their e-mail until their head hits the pillow at night. I know some people who sleep with the phone next to them so they are still hearing the ping when they get e-mails or they are available for texts or calls 24/7. I may be showing my age, but there was a time before cell phones when you could actually miss a call and the world did not end.

Set a boundary with friends, family, coworkers and let them know you are working towards more life balance and that unplugging from email, texts, social media at the end of the day is where you are starting. Let coworkers and or clients know that you won’t be responding to e-mails or texts after 7:00 at night. Working way over your 40 hours has become a common problem. If your employer’s expectation is that you eat, sleep, and breathe work maybe it is time to look for another job. If it is just you, maybe you want to look at what you are avoiding by spending so much time on the job.

11. Mini Meditations or Visualizations to Recharge

Stopping and quieting your mind for even a few minutes can help you to feel more relaxed and focused. The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, close your eyes and focus on your breathing, or imagine sitting on your favorite beach, or walking through a flower filled meadow. You’ll come back to whatever the task at hand is feeling recharged. Imagine you are sitting in nature, see it, smell it, hear it.

12. Smile More

Smiling, even if it is fake, will release endorphins into your system. The brain reads the muscular movement that happens when you smile and automatically release the feel good chemicals. Smiling naturally relaxes you and enhances your mood. Look at some favorite photos, read a joke, it’s free, quick, and easy so give it a try.

13. Subscribe to Positive Podcasts

You Tube has everything. Subscribe to some inspirational podcasts. One of my favorites is Be Inspired. Put in a topic or just search for inspiration and you will find hundreds of potential videos. You can put one on in the morning while getting ready for the day, listen to one on the way to work, or put one in before bedtime.

We are inundated with so much negativity during the day, starting your morning off with a positive message can really set the tone for the day.

14. Self Acceptance Through Self-Reflection

Self-reflection is a great way to give your emotional health a boost. Self reflection is the key to self awareness, which is the beginning of any change. If it feels like you are in a bit of a rut spend some time looking at where you are in life, where do you want to be, what are the things that make you happy, what do you want? Start with a list of questions and then really just sit quietly, grab your journal, and do some self exploration. Concentrate on the good things about yourself, and don’t be afraid to change something if you’re not happy with it.

15. Be Responsible with Your Finances

Nothing causes more stress than feeling out of control over your money situation. If you find you are swimming in debt pick a small debt and make a plan to pay it off. It will feel good to accomplish this and may give you the motivation to tackle some bigger financial obligations. It may even set in motion a desire to learn to budget and plan your financial future. A plan in place will definitely lower your stress.

16. Set Daily Goals

Having some goals for yourself can help you stay motivated and give you a sense of purpose and direction. You can break your goals down into smaller steps and set some daily tasks. Completing the action steps will fuel a sense of accomplishment and increase your confidence and self-esteem.

17. Take Personal Responsibility In Your Life

Instead of blaming others for things not working out for you try turning the tables and ask “How am I creating this situation?” or “Why am I allowing this situation?”. Checking in to see if you have a role in the way things are puts you in a place of power to change it. If it truly feels as though this is not your doing, remember you do not have to be a victim, you have a choice, what are some possible solutions, how can this situation be made better, are good questions to start with. Spending energy on solutions is a much healthier and productive place than being stuck in blame.

18. Choose a Daily Affirmation

Affirmations allow you to stay inspired throughout the day. When you’re feeling motivated, it helps you stay focused and accomplish more. Try a positive mantra like, “I can accomplish anything I set my mind to” or “I am overcoming all of the obstacles in my path”. With affirmations you not only want to repeat them to yourself you want to take a few seconds to sit with the feeling of the affirmation. If I were living this affirmation how would I be feeling. Once you can feel that in your body, repeat the affirmation, close your eyes and feel the energy of the affirmation as though it were a done deal in your life. Do this repeatedly throughout the day.

19. Spend Time In Nature

Time in nature can really help to refresh you and help you feel more connected with the world around you. Stopping to watch a beautiful sunset, smelling fresh cut grass, watching a lizard run under a rock all bring you back into the present moment. It is difficult to stay in a state of worry and anxiety when you are present in the here and now. There are a lot of gifts that come with spending time in nature. It can be healing both emotionally and physically.

20. Practice Random Acts of Kindness

Putting a smile on someone else’s face, feeling someone’s gratitude because you stopped and did something kind is a very rewarding feeling. Even if you don’t get the smile or recognition for your act of kindness you can feel good that you did something nice. So many people feel invisible today and you may touch them in a way that you can’t even imagine. Helping others by doing random acts of kindness also is a way to stop focusing on your own problems, when we take the time to help others we feel more connected and joyful.

Conclusion

This is by no means an exhaustive list of things that you can do to be healthier and happier and I don’ expect you to just jump into adding all of them into your life. You may actually be doing some of them already and some may not appeal to you. Pick one that does sound like it might be a good fit and spend 30 days incorporating it into your life. At the end of 30 days evaluate and if it is enjoyable keep it and add another thing from the list. If you are doing the journaling and or self reflection you will likely come up with a few ideas of your own.

The topic might spark the need to learn a little more, for example you may want to get a book on organization or mindfulness. If you need a little more information to be successful in adding something in your life take that step. Learning new things is also good for the brain and a way to feel healthier and happier.

I hope this was helpful and gave you something to think about and even more a place to change things up in your life. Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

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