What really makes you happy?
Mounting obligations and hectic schedules can make it all too easy to lose track. But whether it's the little things in life that make you smile, or the joy of working toward a larger goal, focusing on your happiness each day can help protect your emotional well-being and your physical health.
Follow these simple steps to rediscover your passion for life.
1. Value Your Daily Diversions
When you're adding items to your to-do list, don't forget the good stuff. If you look forward to reading in bed, going out to breakfast, taking long walks, listening to music, or just sitting quietly outside, make time for at least one of your favorite diversions every day.
Consider crossing out pesky items on your list that you keep saying you're going to do but haven't gotten to in over a year, like alphabetizing your bills or organizing your sock drawer. Or get rid of a time-consuming chore that isn't enhancing your life one bit.
2. Build Your Strength and Independence
We all have low-energy days, but if you can resist the urge to skip your daily workout when you're feeling low, you'll be rewarded both now and later. Try this trick: Tell yourself that you need to do only 10 minutes of exercise. Once you're up and moving (and feeling better) you'll most likely want to finish your workout. Even if you can't push past the 10-minute mark on the occasional bad day, you'll feel good about doing at least a little something. Sticking with an exercise plan helps you feel good about yourself, strengthens your immune system, and enhances production of mood-boosting hormones.
3. Squash Your Stressors
Defuse daily hassles by practicing stress-reduction strategies. Try taking deep-breathing breaks throughout the day, inhaling through your nose and then exhaling slowly through your mouth. Repeating this action three or four times allows more oxygen to get into your bloodstream, creating a feeling of calm. Progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, and meditation also are effective ways of reducing tension, stress, depression, and anxiety. And a brisk 10-minute walk will do far more to dissipate your stress and lift your spirits than eating the bad-for-you snacks you might crave when feeling frantic.
4. Celebrate and Share Your Skills
Volunteer at a local school, club, or community organization. Not only will sharing your unique talents and expertise benefit others, but research shows that volunteering can make you happier and improve your well-being, too. Feeling engaged and involved in your local community is good for your emotional health. It's also an opportunity to learn new skills and meet new people. Win-win.
5. Appreciate the People Around You
Unwind and share a few laughs with your family or friends at least once or twice each month. The openness and trust you share with the important people in your life can help give you the perspective you need to cope with everyday challenges. These regular connections will also have a positive impact on your health, especially when you share a good laugh. Laughing lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, and releases endorphins that can ease pain.
Also, don't neglect relationships at work. Colleagues and coworkers can provide valuable support and keep your blood pressure under control during stressful situations.
Feeling satisfied and fulfilled with your life is an essential part of your emotional and physical well-being. As you grow to appreciate your time, independence, self-assurance, skills, and relationships, you will be amazed at just how good you feel, both in body and in spirit.