The Ten Best Things You Can Do RIGHT NOW To Improve Your Health And Happiness
So you want to be happy? Well, joy and runaway success might take a bit of time, but if you just do a couple of the things on this list, you’ll immediately improve your mood – and if you keep on doing them, you’ll soon be blissful!
Moderate exercise gives your immune system a boost, can help with depression, improves circulation, can help you lose weight and get fit, and can quickly and effectively reduce the symptoms of long-term or recurring conditions like sciatica and stress. Research shows that people affected by depression and anxiety felt immediately better after doing moderate exercise (such as walking for instance) for half an hour.
If you’re a seriously committed couch potato, take it slowly at first. Overdoing it can cause injury and pain. Walking is one of the very best, easiest, and cheapest ways to exercise – just going for a walk for half an hour a day will improve your breathing and cut your risk of heart attack or stroke. Walk at a pace that makes you breathe just a little bit harder than normal – you don’t want to be gasping for breath, but you don’t want to be strolling or ambling along, which will have fewer health benefits. If you’re very out of shape, try starting with just a ten minute walk a day, and avoid very steep roads at first, and then build up your exercise each day, pushing your limits a little without exhausting yourself or causing injury, discomfort or pain.
Yoga also has lots of benefits. It can reduce stress and make you more focused, tone your muscles, and the stretches are fantastic for getting rid of aches and pains due to tension. But yoga also causes a lot of injuries when people try to go too far too fast, so find a good yoga teacher who is certified by the appropriate yoga board of your country.
Swimming is great exercise, and has the advantage that if you have health or mobility problems, the water supports your weight and so can help you to exercise where it might otherwise be difficult or impossible. If you can’t already swim, sign up for lessons at your local pool – the feeling of achievement after managing your first length of the pool will be well worth the effort.
Research Resource: Science Daily
Drink Green Tea
Research has shown numerous benefits to drinking green tea. In one study, the memory capacity of people with cognitive difficulties was improved significantly after receiving green tea extract and l-theanine – substances that are found in comparable amounts by drinking 3 or 4 cups of green tea every day. But choose your green tea wisely – loose-leaf from reputable suppliers contains lots of the ‘good stuff’ – antioxidants, polyphenols and amino acids – that give green tea its health benefits, whereas bagged tea, or tea that’s more than 12 months old has lost a lot of these.
Research Resource: PubMed
Eat Fruit and Vegetables
They contain essential nutrients, they can help clear up skin problems like acne, and you can eat them fresh or cook them in a hundred different ways. Vitamin C in fruit and veg is also extremely effective at combating stress and aiding focus, as well as maintaining the immune system. The large amount and variety of antioxidants can also help you looking and feeling young, and if you’re recovering from illness or injury, fruit and veg is a must to help your body repair the damage.
Get Some Good Quality Sleep
A good night’s sleep is essential if you want to be happy, healthy and focused. Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, and avoiding napping in the afternoon can help overcome insomnia and multiple awakenings during the night. Alcohol, caffeine, noise, temperature and light can degrade your sleep, so cut out that nightcap a few times a week, don’t drink tea, coffee and other caffeinated beverages for 8 hours before bedtime, get your bedroom to a comfortable temperature, and fit heavy curtains to help block out the traffic noise and stop the early morning sun from waking you up.
Try Ten Minutes Easy Meditation
Meditation is simply clearing your mind of intrusive thoughts, and creating a little bit of peaceful calm in your day. As little as five or ten minutes quiet, regular breathing, whilst focusing on your breath or picturing a peaceful scene like clouds, a lake or mountains, can help with stress, and can help strengthen your immune system. You don’t have to fight the thoughts that try to get your attention while you’re meditating – just let them go through your mind without attaching any emotion or importance to them, and draw your attention gently back to your breathing.
Choose A New Skill
Change can be a good thing when we feel in control of it, but there are so many things that we can’t control. Learning a new skill is an area where we can regain this control in part of our lives, so choose something that you’ve always wanted to do – whether it’s for fun or with an eye to a future career – and start to improve yourself. It can be quite frustrating at first, but whether you choose to learn a new language, fix cars, or train to be a plumber or ballet dancer, within 12 months, if you stick with it you’ll have gained more confidence, made new friends, and whether you learn to knit or decide to be a sculptor, you can look at your new skill with the satisfaction that you did that.
And in the immediate, right NOW, short-term? Well, choosing a new skill to learn will give you some idea of how many fantastic opportunities and interesting things are out there, waiting for you to try them out, and just learning a little bit more about them while you research your future hobbies, interests or even career, can be fascinating by itself.
Just Do It!
Are the dishes piling up? Do your roses need pruning? Do you look at your garage with despair and always think, ‘tomorrow I’ll take all this to the dump’? We have great ideas all the time – new curtains would make the kitchen seem so much brighter, or that jacket would be fantastic with new buttons, but then we put things off, add it to the ‘To Do’ list, and ‘tomorrow’ never seems to come.
But some people manage to get all these things done, and more. What’s their secret? How do they find the time? Where does their energy come from?
Well … they don’t make lists, they don’t over-think, they spend that ten minute ‘thinking’ time doing the dishes or sewing on buttons. And as for energy, the more you do, the more you’ll feel like doing. Using energy actually breeds energy – have you ever noticed that people with jobs that require a lot of energy – builders, mechanics, gardeners – are often the people who seem to get more done on their own home? This isn’t because they’re ‘naturally practical’, but because what you do determines what you do in a sort of feedback cycle. If you sit in an office all day staring at a computer screen, you’re more likely to come home and sit on the sofa to spend all night staring at a TV screen. Don’t believe me? Spend Saturday morning clipping your hedges, or resealing your bath, and see if you don’t start to do one or two more things around the house.
Freshen Up Your Home
Spring clean your living room, add a plant or two, open the windows wide, and replace the curtains. A fresh, tidy room to relax in can do wonders for your mood, and you might like it so much that you venture into a little DIY or redecorating. Try rearranging your furniture or adding a few throw cushions, covers, or fresh flowers to brighten things up.
Spend the day pampering yourself from top to toe. Give yourself a manicure and pedicure, have a luxurious bubble bath, exfoliate and moisturise, treat yourself to some special hair conditioner or hot oil treatment, buy some new make up, and get some facial masque mud that gives your pores a treat. Do all the things you don’t usually have time to do – from waxing your legs to massaging your nails with nourishing cream. And even if you’re not into very girly things like make up, pampering yourself with some spa treatments can benefit your health by relieving stress and tension and giving you some peaceful ‘me’ time away from the hustle and noise of the world.
Open Your Mind
Read something you wouldn’t normally read. Pick up a different newspaper in the newsagents, pick up a book from the library that isn’t one of your usual favourite authors, pick a topic that you know nothing about and research it on the Internet. Watch the news on a different channel for a change; ask the man in the corner shop something about himself instead of scurrying out with your milk.
Change your mind about a long-held belief – at least for one hour really try to see the other side of the argument, even if you end up going back to your original beliefs. Pick a cause and do something for it that isn’t a monetary gift – volunteer to help out for a morning with a local project to clean up a river bank, or join a local campaign for an issue you care about.