10 Small Changes You Can Make Today to Live Happier and Healthier
Creating positive change in our lives can be difficult for many of us.
People yearn for instant gratification, and if the results are going to take too long, most of us give up and move on.
The secret to making change that lasts is accepting that change takes time and patience.
This article contains 10 small changes you can make today to live happier and healthier.
Ready? Let’s get started!
- How Long Does Change Really Take?
- How to Start Living Happier and Healthier?
- #1. Drink Enough Water
- #2. Get Enough Sleep
- #3. Get Moving
- #4. Adopt a Positive Outlook
- #5. Enjoy Some Time Alone
- #6. Eat Organic
- #7. Live With Purpose
- #8. Build Healthy and Supportive Relationships
- #9. Give Back
- #10. Control Your Clutter
How Long Does Change Really Take?
You may have heard that it takes 21 or 28 days for a change to become permanent. But really, the amount of time required to make lasting change depends on the person, the change, and the circumstances.
How to Start Living Happier and Healthier?
Creating a happier, healthier lifestyle will help you enjoy a more fulfilling life, raise your self-esteem and increase your control over your life.
#1. Drink Enough Water
Replenishing your body on a daily basis is vital to proper body function. It helps to carry nutrients to your cells and is important in digestion and flushing toxins from your system. It keeps blood clean and skin soft and stretchy.
The Change: Fill a 32-ounce bottle twice a day and drink it throughout your day.
Drink additional ounces of water for the following situations:
* Exercise: An extra eight ounces of water for every twenty minutes of exercise.
* Alcohol: Consume an equal amount of water.
* Travel: An additional eight ounces of water for every hour in flight.
* Climate: An additional sixteen ounces of water if you live in a dry climate.
* Breast-feeding: An extra eight ounces of water prior to each feeding.
* Pregnancy: An extra eight ounces of water.
In general, a good rule of thumb is to drink enough water so you’re your urine is pale and doesn’t smell strong.
Space out your dose of water. Drink an eight-ounce glass of water every hour.
Drink a glass of water before every meal. It will fill you and prevent you from overeating.
If you find plain water unpalatable, try adding a squeeze of lemon or a slice of cucumber.
To reduce plastic waste, filter your tap water and fill a reusable water bottle that you carry around with you.
#2. Get Enough Sleep
Proper sleep helps to strengthen the immune system, boosts cognitive function and memory, and helps us to look and feel our best.
Lack of sleep, on the other hand, causes irritability and moodiness, decreased attention span, fatigue, and headaches. Long-term effects of lack of sleep include slowed metabolism, which leads to weight gain or diabetes, increased blood pressure, impaired memory, and depression.
The Change: Get seven to eight hours of restful sleep every night.
Here are some tips to ensure you get enough sleep every night:
* Lights: Keep your bedroom dark and use nightlights in hallways and bathrooms.
* Sound: If you can’t isolate your room from the noise, purchase a white noise machine to help mask the noise or use earplugs.
* Linens and Sleepwear: Use quality linens on your bed and sleep in comfortable sleepwear.
* Humidity: Use a humidifier if your room is too dry and a dehumidifier if your room is extremely humid.
* Create a Bedtime Ritual: This will prepare your body and your mind for sleep. A bedtime relaxation ritual can include a bedtime tea, a bath, reading fiction, journaling, etc.
* Eating: Don’t eat at least two hours before bedtime to avoid the risk of being kept up by an active digestive tract. Make sure your dinner is well balanced, and not too high in fat or simple carbohydrates (sugars and foods made with refined flour) and avoid eating foods that cause acid reflux, or excessive gas, or any other discomfort.
* Fluids: To avoid having to run to the bathroom several times during the night, make sure you avoid drinking a lot of liquid two to three hours before bedtime.
#3. Get Moving
Physical activity provides benefits that go way beyond extending your lifespan.
Regular physical activity improves the quality of your life dramatically. It helps to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and heart disease. It also helps to strengthen your bones and muscles, and boost your mood.
Exercise is one way to become physically active, but the change is about becoming mindful of opportunities for activity and opting to move.
The Change: Incorporate regular physical activity into your lifestyle.
These small choices can add up to make a big difference:
* Commuting: If it’s less than 30-minute walk, walk it. Or park farther if you’re not in a hurry.
* At Work: Take breaks to stretch or walk to a colleague’s office down the hall rather than calling him on the phone. Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
* Cardio: Go to the gym or buy an equipment to exercise at home like a stationary bike, a cross-trainer, or even a treadmill.
* Floor Exercises: If you don’t want to spend money on cardio equipment or don’t have the space for it, you can easily do some exercises on the floor like sit-ups or push-ups, or even a 7-minute exercise from YouTube video or an app.
#4. Adopt a Positive Outlook
Positivity is a wonderful quality and a true asset in creating a richer and more fulfilling life. People, who choose to adopt a positive outlook, come off as happy and confident, and are fun to be around.
Countless studies have shown that an optimistic outlook can help reduce the risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure.
Positivity can even help in recovery after surgery. In one study, researchers found that individuals who were optimistic were only half as likely as pessimists to require rehospitalization within six months after surgery.
The Change: Adopt an optimistic outlook.
Here are some tips to shift your mindset to be more positive and productive:
Pay attention to your internal monologues. When you find yourself blaming yourself for things that go wrong, catastrophizing, anticipating the worst, magnifying the negative and diluting the positive, stop yourself. Instead practice self-acceptance and compassion.
Treat yourself as you would treat a dear friend who’s blaming himself and talking negatively about himself. Would you agree with him and tell him that yes it was his fault and he’s stupid? I guess not. Well do the same with yourself.
Affirmation can be useful in cultivating a positive outlook. As you repeat positive statements about yourself and your life, your mind will begin to believe these statements and start thinking more positively.
Make sure your affirmations are positive, present, personal, corrective, brief, and concise.
3. Allow more humor into your life
Get your regular dose of humor by watching a funny video, or reading jokes. Laughing helps to diffuse stress and tension, and allows you to relax.
Try not to take yourself or things and try to see the lighter side to more serious situations.
4. Take Care of Yourself:
Taking good care of yourself helps you build a positive self-image. This in turn, help to minimize negative self-talk and build self-confidence.
5. Practice Gratefulness:
Take a few minutes every day to remind yourself of the good things in your life. Gratitude boosts your positivity and improves your mood. It helps you draw more positive energy you way.
#5. Enjoy Some Time Alone
Life can be hectic at times. We have little to no time for ourselves to hit the reset button and decompress.
Setting aside regular “me time” can help you manage your stress, frustration, fatigue and provide numerous other benefits.
Alone time allows you to reflect on the things that make you who you are and enjoy you hobbies and passions. It forces you to take a break from everyday responsibilities and focus on your own personal needs, explore your personal aspirations and move forward with your goals.
The Change: Set a regular “me time” for yourself.
Here are some suggestions to build time in for yourself, plan it; and more importantly, prioritize it:
Build It In
Get up half an hour earlier or go to bed half an hour later and make that time “me time”. You want to have your seven or eight hours of sleep every night, so try not to sacrifice your sleep time. The point is to find opportunities throughout the day and schedule time for you.
What to Do
Below are some ideas of thing you can do in your time alone but what matters really, is that you do something you enjoy.
Exercise: Go for a walk, go to the gym, or doing some exercises at home.
Read: Whether you needed to catch up on the news before you start your day, or unwind with a good novel, or even learning more about yourself and life from a self-help book.
Bond with Nature: Spending time in nature can help you relax, clear your mind and find inspiration.
Take on a Project: If have been planning on decluttering a closet or starting a DIY project, this could be a good opportunity to do it.
Get Pampered: Do some skin care, get a manicure and pedicure.
#6. Eat Organic
The benefits of organic are undeniable. While conventional farming uses chemical fertilizers and insecticides to reduce pests, organic farming, on the other hand, uses natural fertilizers such as manure or compost, and insects and birds or traps to reduce pests and disease.
The same goes for animal farming. Conventional ones means that animals are given antibiotic and growth hormones, while organic farming provide animals with access to the outdoors so they can roam more freely.
So is organic worth the price? In short, it is.
Synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, and growth hormones are questionable when it comes to your health especially for children who are sensitive to these chemicals and pregnant and breast-feeding women who can pass on these chemicals to their unborn fetuses or newborns.
The Change: Start eating organic fruit, vegetables, and animal products whenever it’s possible.
The following are some tips to make you a smart organic consumer:
1. Check the Label:
Organic food must meet USDA standards to be certified and labeled as organic. For a processed or prepared food product to carry the USDA organic seal, it must be 95 percent or more organic. Whole foods, such as produce, eggs, or other single-ingredient foods must be 100 percent organic.
2. The Dirty Dozen:
In general, thin-skinned fruit, such as apples, pears, and berries, as well as many lettuces and thin-skinned vegetables, such as spinach, peppers, and potatoes, tend to retain pesticides, even after washing.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) published the “Dirty Dozen” which lists the most contaminated produce that should be purchased organic.
- Green beans
- Sweet bell peppers
3. Find Your Farmer:
Eat organic while supporting local farms.
4. Join a CSAs:
CSA (community-supported agriculture) is a great way to get food that is fresh and in season from local farms throughout the year. CSA consists of buying shares in a farm, then, during the season, you get fresh vegetables and fruits (and sometimes eggs and meat) directly delivered to you, or to a drop-off point every week.
To find a CSA near you, check www.localharvest.org or www.csacenter.org.
5. Home Grown:
Whether you have a decent-sized yard or you use home pots, grow your own. Make sure you use natural techniques—not pesticides—to manage pests, weeds, and other issues.
#7. Live With Purpose
– Robert Byrne
Living a life with purpose gives us reason to live and gives our life a meaning. When you live with purpose, you are proactively creating the life you want – a life that has meaning. You take responsibility for your actions and decisions.
A purpose isn’t about tangible things or a job, it’s about who you are as an individual and the legacy you want to leave behind.
A purpose gives you a great clarity in what is important to you and reinforces your core values.
When you find your purpose, you unstuck yourself and find the motivation to live a life without regrets or fear. When things get tough, a purpose help you navigate life’s challenges and stay on course.
The Change: Find your purpose in life and live it every day.
The following are some ways to help you find and living your life purpose:
Before finding a life purpose, it’s important to discover yourself – who you are, what your values are, and what is important to you.
Do not answer this question by considering your need for approval or your need to prove yourself to the world.
Instead, reach deep within and think about what you want out of life and the person that you want to be. Ask yourself what would bring you most pleasure, fulfillment and make you most content and satisfied?
When you’re seventy or eighty, or ninety and you look back on your life, what will you want to have accomplished?
2. Make a Plan
Develop a plan that will help you live your purpose and mission.
Think about what you want to accomplish and set goals for yourself.
Think through the steps you need to take to achieve these goals.
Your goals or the steps you take to reach your goals might change over time, but setting goals around your purpose will help you navigate life in a clearer way.
#8. Build Healthy and Supportive Relationships
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Studies show that people who enjoy healthy, supportive relationships are happier and less stressed than those who don’t.
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, shows that individuals who lacked social and community ties were two to three times more likely to die prematurely than those who were well connected.
The Change: Develop more healthy and supportive relationships, while avoiding those that are toxic.
The following are some ways to help you cultivate better communication and intimacy in your relationships:
1. Quality Control:
If you want to build more supportive relationships, it’s important to know what qualities you deem important in the relationship.
Make a list of the qualities that make you feel loved, and supported the most and another list of qualities that make you feel the opposite.
Connect with people who possess these supportive qualities, and avoid individuals who possess the latter.
Even though you can’t completely cut off certain individuals out of your life, avoiding them and limiting your exposure to those individuals is critical to your mental well-being.
2. Give and Take:
Healthy, supportive relationships require both parties’ involvement. This is why you need to an active role in developing and maintaining your relationships, just as it’s important that your friend or loved one does the same. Otherwise, the relationship can cause resentment and disappointment.
Support your friends and loved ones, but also allow them to support you too.
3. Practice Healthy Communication:
When disappointed, communicate your disappointment honestly and in a respectful way.
Avoid unhealthy behaviors such as the silent treatment or holding grudges.
Related: How To Communicate More Effectively
4. Listen Actively:
Healthy, supportive relationships require that each person feels heard and understood. Take the time to really listen and seek to understand the other person by asking open questions and rephrasing what they said to make sure you got it right.
5. Set Clear Boundaries:
Without clear, healthy boundaries, toxicity can escalate and resentment can creep into your relationships. If someone crosses a line or didn’t respect your boundaries, let him know that although you love and care for him, you can’t accept this behavior.
Explain to him that if they won’t respect your boundaries, then you can’t be around him.
#9. Give Back
– Zig Ziglar
Giving without expecting anything in return has a tremendous impact on our well being. Numerous studies show that providing help to friends, acquaintances, and even strangers can mitigate the impact of daily stressors on our emotions and our mental health.
In fact, individuals battling with disease who volunteer tend to have lower rates of depression and a more positive outlook compared to those who don’t.
Helping others takes your minds off your own problems and helps you gain a healthier perspective.
It also allows you to focus more on the good things in life and less on what seems to be missing, which increases your own level of satisfaction.
The Change: Give back by donating your time, money, or energy to someone in need or to a cause you care about.
The following are some ways to give back:
1. Move to Give:
Many marathons and sporting events take place all over the world that benefit charities, causes and nonprofit organizations.
Participate in walks, runs, bike races, or other events that benefit a cause you care about.
2. Volunteer in School:
Many public schools are asking professionals to get involved in after-school programs, or to come into guest lecture.
Call local schools in your area and ask how you can help.
3. Volunteer with Passion:
Volunteering in something you enjoy. If you love animals, for example, volunteer with an organization that works with animals, or local shelters.
#10. Control Your Clutter
Removing clutter and purging the excess can be therapeutic. Decluttering can make you feel lighter and more in control of your life and bring a sense of accomplishment.
Living in a space free of clutter can help you relax and refocus which will improve your productivity and creativity and lower your stress levels.
The Change: Declutter and organize your home.
The following are some techniques to help make your home clutter-free:
1. Start with the Big Items:
Decide which large items you want to dispose of or give away and get these out of the way before moving on to the smaller things.
If the item is too large for normal disposal, check with local authorities to find out the right way to dispose of it.
2. Go Over Your Clothes:
Clothes that you didn’t wear in a year or that don’t fit anymore, or are outdated, you’re probably never going to wear them. Instead of leaving them hanging, give them away to charities, and for the worn out items repurpose them as cleaning rags or recycle them.
3. Decluttering Rituals:
Create daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal decluttering rituals to help you maintain a clutter-free environment.
Daily rituals might include, washing dishes right after meals, going through mail, put clothes away, etc.
On a weekly basis, clean the house and take out the recyclables.
Monthly, go through things in your office, organize tax documents and bills.
Seasonally, you might declutter your closets and do a once-over on all appliances and electronics.
Did I miss anything?
Now I’d like to hear from you.
Which techniques from today’s post are you going to try first?
Or maybe I didn’t mention one of your favorite techniques.
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now!
Wondering what to read next?
- Take Care of Yourself: (26 Simple Self-Care Practices for a Healthy Mind, Body & Soul)
- 100 Simple Principles to Help You Live a Peaceful Life
- 35 Easy Ways to Relax: Beat Stress in as Little as Five Minutes
- Self-Loathing: How to Stop Self-Hatred and Start Loving Yourself?
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Portions of this article were adapted from the book 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You, © January 3, 2012, by Brett Blumenthal. All rights reserved.