Depression and other mental health issues are serious and need to be treated by an appropriate health care professional. But for those not dealing with depression or other issues, there's likely still room for increasing your happiness. Fortunately, there are several lifestyle choices and practices that can put a happier life within our control. Take a hold of your happiness and try some of these practices and you’re sure to see your outlook on life improve:
- Get enough sleep. Most adults need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep every night. It's a crucial part of life that affects your physical, mental and emotional well-being. Prioritize quality sleep by setting a schedule and creating a nighttime routine. If you have chronic issues regarding sleep, speak with a doctor. A well-rested body is a well-rested mind.
- Gratitude. During hard times it's natural to turn inwards. Although it may sound counterintuitive, reflecting on aspects of life you appreciate may end up lightening your load and alleviating stress. Keep a gratitude list on your phone or jot down something in a small journal every day.
- Find ways to give back. This goes hand-in-hand with gratitude. Find small, simple ways to reach out. Whether it's to a stranger or people you know and love, giving back doesn't have to be complicated. Send a quick, uplifting text to a friend, or make donations to your local second hand store or school.
- Exercise regularly. On average, adults should get about 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day. But, exercise doesn't have to be stressful. Walking is one of the best forms of activity to incorporate into your daily routine, and the benefits are endless. Consistent movement decreases your risk for heart disease and diabetes while increasing energy and improving cholesterol levels.
- Start your day with a healthy breakfast. Start each day with a filling, nutritious meal. Eating a good breakfast can kick off your metabolism for the day, give you energy and strengthen your body for the tasks ahead.
- Limit your time on social media. Set a goal to spend less time on social media. Whether you have a daily or weekly goal, set-aside time to disconnect from your phone and do something else like meditation, breathing exercises or reading a book. Doing so can relieve stress.
- Develop a new hobby. Find something fun and relaxing to do that requires creativity and imagination. Learn how to knit, or make a mini terrarium. Step out of your comfort zone and attend a dance class, pottery class or cooking class. Find an outlet that you can easily incorporate into your routine.
- Find a reason to laugh. According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter has more benefits than we may think it does. Finding moments of amusement can invigorate your organs, ease stress and even improve your immune system! Whether you find enjoyment from funny movies, books or comics, seek ways to brighten your day.
- Pick up journaling. Journaling is an excellent way to process emotions, improve memory and alleviate stress. It can also help you set and achieve goals as you document your process.
- Acknowledge your feelings. While we can take steps to alleviate negative feelings, it's also okay, and even healthy, to acknowledge the sadness and disappointments we encounter in life. Don't bottle up your feelings. Find healthy ways to manage your emotions when you feel overwhelmed. Turn to a trusted friend, a loved one or a licensed therapist. You are not alone.
Did you know that it takes approximately 66 days to form a habit? While it takes time and effort to instill a new habit into your life, positive changes are worth the work. Prioritize your mental health and personal peace by instilling some of these practices. You might even consider making your own '10 Healthy Habits' list. For ideas, visit El Camino Health's calendar to see free classes and events.
This article first appeared in the September 2022 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.