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22 Simple Ways To Live A Healthier, Happier Life (Who Doesn’t Want That?!)
More than likely, you made a great many New Year’s resolutions this year. How many of them did you actually keep?
Don’t feel bad, you aren’t alone.
Unfortunately, most people made general resolutions that they could never fulfill. Things like “I will save money this year.” Or “I will lose 75 pounds by summer.” Those are not realistic goals.
If you look at most people’s desires, they are mainly focused in the areas of happiness, health, and money. Who doesn’t want to be happier, healthier, and wealthier?
We have 22 of the best ways you can attain those things. Better still, they are simple to do. You don’t have to do every single one of these, and you don’t have to try to do them all at one time. Try adding just one or two of the following each week. Prepare to be amazed!
1. Stay In Touch — Literally
Scientific studies have shown that being in physical contact with someone you love is a great way to relieve stress and feel happier. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a study finding that even a simple massage can leave people not only feeling more content, but actually increased their immune system. Get and give more hugs from those you care about. Stay in touch with those you care about — literally!
2. Look Up From The Phone
Smart phones are super fun and convenient, but they seriously messed up our ability to look up. Be present where you are; look up at the sky, look people in the eye, look around at the people who are sitting or standing close by (they won’t notice, they are probably on their phones), notice the weather, birds, flowers, and everything around you, rather than staring at your phone. Cell phones are kinda like a supermarket, you can get substantial brain food form them, or you can cruise the junk aisles.
3. Be Generous
Look for way in your day to day life to give to others. You don’t have to give hundreds of dollars to charity or spend hours helping friends move, it’s the little things that go a long way. Listen to a friend who needs a sympathetic ear. Help an elderly person carry groceries to the car. Offer to babysit one night for a single mother. Offer to help out at a local school or charity. Donate items to a homeless shelter. This puts our problems in a new light and allows us to feel good about making a difference, not matter how small, in the lives of others.
4. Buy These Each Week
Want to be healthier in an instant? Print out this list and buy these things each week:
- Walnuts or almonds
- Cruciferous veggies such as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower
- Dark leafy greens such as spinach, bok choy, and kale
- Blueberries or raspberries or strawberries
- Salmon or tuna
Oh yes, don’t forget to eat them, not just buy them!
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5. Maintain Friendships
Friendships take work. Neglect a friend for too long and you will lose that friend. Studies show that maintaining healthy friendships can lead to a longer, more satisfying life. Whether you are single or not, try to see your friends on a regular basis. Try some weekly get togethers to go walking, biking, or even just watch a game on TV. Having good, strong friendships help to buffer the difficulties everyone goes through in life.
You know the old saying: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” It makes Jill just as dull. Play like kids do every now and then — blow bubbles on your front porch, skip rope, play on the swing set, make mud pies, set up a lemonade stand, run a race just for fun, have family game night, play tug-of-war. Whatever makes you smile and LOL is the right thing to do.
7. Dump the Weekend Rut
Your weekend is supposed to be like a mini-vacation, not a time to try to get all your chores done. Break up your chores during the week so that you are mostly free during the weekend. Weekends don’t need to be expensive, but they should be fun. Try to avoid doing the same old things like sleeping in, going grocery shopping, watching television in the evenings or going out to the movies. Shake things up. Check out free or inexpensive events sponsored around your town, go hiking, go surfing, look for seashells, or go to a museum. Try to do something different at least two weekends out of every month. You will really feel refreshed and renewed!
8. Dig In The Dirt
Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty! Playing in the dirt will improve your physical condition as well as boost your immune system. Whether you decide to start a vegetable garden or do some landscaping, digging in the dirt and getting in touch with Mother Nature will make you feel better. Dirt contains microscopic organisms called M. vaccae, which get absorbed by your skin and trigger serotonin, a neurotransmitter which will help you improve your mood. This is why many gardeners are so hardcore — it makes them feel good! Put away those gardening gloves and dig in! If you are an apartment dweller, try growing a few veggies and flowers in pots.
9. Get Crazy
Whether it’s dressing up for your favorite sports team or going a little crazy with the holiday decorations, letting yourself go a little crazy from time to time is a good thing. In Europe, during the Middle Ages, the holidays (which, back then, were designed to honor a particular saint) allowed peasants to go crazy, blow horns, dance all night long in the streets, and act like clowns to release stress and vent frustrations. This helped stop the peasants from rioting or revolting. Of course, no one wants to be a revolting peasant, but don’t be afraid to go a little whack-o every now and then.
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10. Build Memories
Numerous studies show that it is experiences, not stuff, that makes people happier. Even when our plans don’t always turn out exactly the way we wanted, people remember the good times, the amazing things they saw, and laugh at all the mishaps, even if they weren’t funny at the time. Go more places, buy less stuff.
11. Eat More Super Foods
Simply by adding more super foods into your diet, you will be automatically improving your health. Super foods keep you healthier by packing tons of nutrition into a small package while fighting stress and providing you with more energy. Make a plan to try one new recipe each week that includes a new super food.
12. Relax Before Bedtime
Many of us try to cram in as many things as possible into every minute of every day. Then we plop into bed and wonder why we don’t fall asleep. You need to prepare your body by letting it know that you plan to fall asleep within the hour. Shut off all of your screens (including television, cell phones, and tablets) at least one hour before bedtime. Dim the lights and enjoy a relaxing cup of tea, take a warm bath, or try reading before heading off to bed.
13. Enliven Traditions (Or Make Your Own)
Family traditions can help build feelings of solidarity with friends and family. This helps people feel more secure, as if someone has your back, when hard time hit. Feeling that you are not alone in the world is a great way to build your confidence. The holidays are full of traditions and are a great way to feel closer to your family. If you don’t have extended family or if you don’t like some of the typical holiday traditions, feel free to create your own. For example, you might want to start having everyone make five predictions for the coming year and then pack those away with the Christmas decorations. Take turns reading everyone’s predictions on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve for an evening of laughs.
Over time, most of us tend to accumulate tons of stuff that we really don’t need. Clutter makes it difficult to find things and does not promote a relaxing or enjoyable space. Find ways to declutter just a little bit each day. Start with your bedroom or by cleaning out a desk or closet. Try just one drawer or five minutes each day to remove junk and clutter that you no longer want in your life.
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15. Move It
Sitting on your butt all day (or all night) is unhealthy for the mind and body, the old and the young. When you have a desk job, you can’t help but sit there all day, but you should get up and walk around every 30 to 60 minutes. In fact, why not walk during your lunch hour? Why not invite co-workers or friends to go walking with you?
16. Exercise More Than the Body
While we are talking about exercise, why not try exercising your smile? You can trick your brain into feeling happy when you smile. Your brain has something called neuro-linguistic programming where a trigger (such as a hot stove) will cause the brain to remember what happened the last time you used those same muscles or had the experience. This is why looking at a hot stove causes you to be cautious, even though you are at a safe distance. Your brain will automatically remember that smiling means you are happy, so you will instantly feel happier just by exercising those mouth muscles.
17. Get Your Sunshine On
Vitamin D is often called “the sunshine vitamin” because our bodies turn sunlight into vitamin D. A growing number of recent studies show that vitamin D is much more important than previously believed. Low levels of vitamin D are linked to certain types of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and even heart disease. Aim towards getting between fifteen to thirty minutes of sunshine every single day.
18. Avoid Trans-Fats
Consumer Reports recently cited research show found that eating foods that contain trans-fats make most people feel depressed. Trans-fats are used in many processed foods and fast foods, but in some cases you need to read food labels because trans-fats are cleverly hidden by the word “hydrogenated”. Many baked goods and cooking mixes, such as cake mix or brownies, contain trans-fats. Try baking from scratch, rather than use mixes.
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19. Think Rainbow Colors
Some fruits and almost all vegetables come in a wide range of deep, glorious colors, which you should add to your diet every single day. Produce that has very intense, vibrant colors indicates that these food items are full of phytonutirents, which are biologically active compounds that protect these plants from disease. The good news is that when you eat those plants, you get the same type of protection. Add one or two bright colored or deep colored (such as beets and sweet potatoes) vegetables to your meals every single day.
20. Discover Your Sleep Number
Everyone has a certain number of hours of sleep which make them feel refreshed the next morning. For most adults, this number seems to vary between nine and seven hours. Sleeping less than seven hours each night can negatively affect your health. Find out what your “magic” sleep number is, and aim to get that amount of sleep each night.
21. Limit Caffeine
If you should find that you have trouble falling asleep at night, it could be that caffeine is the demon behind your problem. Many people drink caffeinated drinks all day long and then wonder why they can’t fall asleep. Coffee has numerous health benefits but you shouldn’t be drinking it all day long. Enjoy your morning cup or two of Joe, and then switch to herbal teas, decaf coffee, and water with lemon juice.
22. Take A Walk On The Wild Side
Walking or exercising in green spaces has been proven in numerous studies to provide more health benefits, to both mind and body, then exercising in the gym or walking on a treadmill. Although beautifully manicured parks are fine, the more “natural” and wild the setting is the better it is for your mind. Don’t blast music in the wild, pay attention to the sights, sounds, and smells of Mother Nature. One trick is to look for five things that are interesting enough or unusual enough that you will want to tell someone about it. Feel free to take videos and/or photos. If you can’t get out to more remote areas, at least take time to notice the squirrels in the trees and the flowers that were planted at your local park.
Being happy and healthy doesn’t take a great deal of time or money, just some motivation, a little action, and some desire.
To coin a phrase: Just Do It!