You’re probably sick of hearing about all the things you should do. You should eat more broccoli, plan a trip, clean your car, and do about a million other things. Between trying to stay physically healthy and taking care of yourself mentally, it seems there is never enough time in the day. The last thing you need is yet another article compiling more daily to-dos.
However, I like to think of the following ideas as personal habits more than tasks. Habits are a part of our day whether we like it or not, and the more time we take to actively work towards having a happy day, the more content we will feel. If you do it enough, suddenly they aren’t tasks you have to consider: they’re a part of your daily routine. So, here are some teensy tiny little things you can (not should) do to place a little spring in your step.
Wake Up Early
Part of me cringed internally as I typed those words. No one enjoys dragging themselves out of their warm beds to face an early morning, and for most of us, it certainly isn’t a habit. There’s a reason so many of us are addicted to coffee and racing to work at the last minute. So, I don’t mean wake up early just for the heck of it, but when you set your alarm, don’t set it for the last possible second. Don’t hit snooze ten times before reluctantly rolling out of your warm cocoon. Grant yourself more than enough time to get ready. Listen to your favorite radio show as you get dressed and actually take the time to eat breakfast instead of inhaling a pop tart as you drive. A smooth, relaxed start can set the tone for the rest of the day.
Consciously Make an Effort to Smile at Someone
I’m sure I’m not the first one to tell you that smiling is incredibly contagious, and it doesn’t require that much effort. Not the smiley type? Just pick at least one person and flash them a quick grin. Even a fake smile will encourage your mind to feel happier and friendlier. You owe it to your coworkers and yourself to make the effort, even if it’s just for part of the day.
Spend Thirty Minutes Outside
Research has proven time and time again that people who spend more time outdoors are happier and healthier. In fact, visiting mother nature frequently can improve your memory, vision, stress levels, and risk of an early death. You don’t have to take up mountain biking or anything: simply make an effort to be outside for about half an hour each day. Sit outside on your porch, take a walk, go for a long drive with the windows down. Thirty minutes might sound like a long time, but it’s much easier to set aside the time than you think it is.
Do Something That Makes YOU Happy
If you’re like most people, then the bulk of your day is often spent doing things for others. Whether you’re parenting children or working on something for your boss, it seems difficult to find time for you in the mix of the chaos. Even living with a significant other can prevent you from setting aside a moment of your own. Having said that, psychologists have found that it is extremely important to pick at least one time a day that is for you and you alone. Believe it or not, being alone can help relieve stress and make you a more enjoyable person to be around. Read a book, take a long shower, go for a run. Just make sure that the activity is for you and no one else.
Clean an Area of Your House
Researchers have said time and time again that doing little things around your house, such as making the bed and unloading the dishwasher, can make you feel more productive and at ease. The phrase “clean home, clean mind” exists for a reason. Psychologists have even gone as far as to say that cleaning your house can increase your confidence and encourage you to stay fit. Now, no one expects you to dust every inch of your house every evening. However, it doesn’t take much time or energy to just pick one room/area to tackle each night. Before you know it, your home will be looking happier, just like you.
Turn Off Your Phone for a Little While
It’s no secret that almost every American is utterly addicted to technology. We leap from Facebook to Twitter to e-mail to Instagram, then repeat over and over again. Additionally, we text and call our contacts on a regular basis. Sadly, this obsession often leads to unhealthy needs and emotions. Staying constantly connected increases stress levels and prevents you from engaging in the moment. Don’t worry, I’m not saying anything insane like leave your phone at home for the day. Instead, consider leaving your phone in the other room while you eat dinner or set it aside while you read a book for an hour. Just make sure your phone isn’t attached to your hip 24/7.
Pick One Thing to Be Grateful For
This habit is perhaps the easiest (and least time-consuming) item on the list. Simply close your eyes for a second and decide which part of your life you are truly appreciative of today. It can be anything from the great coffee you drank to a person you love. It has been shown that practicing gratitude on a daily basis can improve your relationships and mental health, so go ahead and take those few seconds to really evaluate your life in a positive light.
See, not so bad, right? Nothing too excruciating. Still, these seemingly small habits can have a huge impact on your day-to-day life, especially if you practice them regularly. Pick one and try it, then see if you feel even a tiny bit happier each day.