Life is rough sometimes
It’s hard, and it’s painful, and it’s every day. But it doesn’t have to be hard all the time. You can change your life starting today by setting goals and implementing small changes that add up over time. Start developing good habits with these 19 ways to improve your life.
The secret to a healthier lifestyle
Improving your life is sometimes about building good habits. There are a lot of things on this list, but when we talk about building a healthy lifestyle, we are talking about building good habits that will improve your life.
Every single thing on this list will help you improve your life immediately. However, you may not see results with all of them as quickly as you would like. There are a few things you can do with immediate impacts.
Meditation is on every life improvement list for a reason. It works. Meditating for just 10 minutes a day can make you happier and healthier. It will reduce stress and improve your mindfulness.
Getting started with meditation can be difficult. I was resistant to it because the thought of sitting still with just my thoughts for 10 full minutes (or more!) seemed horrible! What was I supposed to do or think about? How do you even clear your mind?
The key to learning to meditate, like anything, is practice. It’s going to feel weird the first few times. Your brain won’t stop thinking it’s random thoughts, so don’t expect it to. Acknowledge the thoughts and let them flow through you and move on. Don’t linger on anything. As you get used to it, you’ll see that it decreases stress and increases your well-being.
When you’re feeling down, the last thing you want to do is work out. I know. Moving your body in a strenuous work out sounds terrible. But exercising doesn’t have to be strenuous. I’m not telling you to run a marathon or compete in a triathlon. I’m telling you that you can improve your life right now just by getting your blood flowing a little.
You can do this with something low impact, like stretching or Yin Yoga on YouTube every morning (it greatly reduces stress level), or something a little more physical, like jogging. You can even do 20 seconds of jumping jacks.
It doesn’t really matter how long you work out for. Even just a tiny bit of physical activity, if that’s all you can handle, releases endorphins, reduces stress, and is good for your physical health.
3. Eat healthier meals
Eating healthy meals is definitely a habit that you want to develop. I know, sometimes it’s easier to grab a cheap to-go meal at the local burger joint, but that meal is bad for your wallet, your waistline, and your overall health.
Prepare a few healthier meals every week doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. One of my favorite things to eat is a baked sweet potato with a side of spinach. It’s filling, nutritious, and doesn’t take a whole lot of time. The sweet potato takes about an hour to bake, but I can do other things during that time. Another favorite meal is a salad. It takes about ten minutes to chop some lettuce, cucumbers an tomatoes for an easy, healthy dinner salad. Swapping a few fatty meals out healthier meals every week will boost your happiness and help you and your family build healthy habits.
A great way to help you do this is with the Ultimate Healthy Meal Planning Bundle. Unfortunately, you can’t snag yours until January, but I got one two years ago and still find new recipes in it! Read my review, and if you’re interested, you can sign up to be notified when the bundle is released!
4. Go for a walk
Walking has saved my life this summer. An afternoon stroll through the park is a great way to clear your head, reduce stress, and get a tiny bit of physical activity in. Just being outside for a few minutes, breathing the fresh air, is enough to make you feel rejuvenated.
Most people have a small park near their homes, but even if you don’t, a short walk around the block will work as well. Getting outside for even a few minutes each day will greatly improve your life.
5. Take a break from social media
Social media can be extremely toxic. Facebook is by far the worst offender for me. It’s difficult to believe that people I know in real life can be so hateful and anti-science. It’s depressing and sometimes makes me irrationally angry. Turning it off has worked wonders for my mental well-being.
But it’s not just Facebook, and it’s not only the stuff that makes you angry that you have to look out for. Social media can lead to depression. It can be horrible for your mental wellness to see glamourous shots of people in exotic locales, photos of pristine homes, clips of happy families celebrating their togetherness. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember that these brief glimpses we get into someone’s life aren’t real. They are a perfectly curated highlight real.
It’s difficult to scroll through Instagram and not compare the wonderful images to our own lives. Taking a break and trying not to compare your real life with someone else’s highlights will do wonders for your mental wellness.
6. Chat with friends
Every other Tuesday, I have a standing Face time call with my best friend. She lives on the other side of the country, and both our trips to see each other this year were canceled due to COVID. But, that’s not a reason for us to drift apart!
Our calls work wonders to help us stay connected and stay social in these trying times of social distancing. Every call lifts me up and makes me feel rejuvenated. Good friends will do that.
Even if you can’t get together with your friends, stay in touch with them. Have video calls, phone calls, and texts regularly. Staying connected with old friends is a great way to help you feel good about your life.
It’s hard to relax when there is stuff everyone. Take it from me, the queen of clutter! My desk is regularly a mess of books, pens, journals, and post-it notes.
Usually, I work through the clutter. But it’s hard to describe how much cleaning up the mess and decluttering my work space enhances my creativity and productivity. It’s like my desk is a metaphor for my mind, and when it’s clean and organized, my brain is too.
Realizing how much a decluttered work space improved my life motivated me to keep it decluttered. My books and notes now all have their own place, and my clutter free desk makes focusing on my important tasks a whole lot easier.
There’s something magical about turning away from all the hustle and distractions of everyday life and getting lost in a good book. It can take you away from your real life, if only for an hour or two – but sometimes that’s enough to give us a refreshing outlook.
I used to lurk on Reddit for a half hour or so after every shower, but instead, I decided to use that time to catch up on my reading. It’s astonishing how much better I feel after reading a chapter than after being on Reddit. I feel a sense of accomplishment for getting through my list, but I’m also less stressed because I opted out of the online world, if just for a few minutes.
9. Cut out toxic people
Speaking of haters, some of them might be people that are close to us. We all have a toxic friend or family member that never has anything nice to say about our hopes, dreams, passions and achievements.
Some may say that family is the most important thing, but I disagree. If a family member or a friend can’t be civil to you, if they can’t be happy for you, you don’t actually have to engage with them. We have made family out to be so important that we accept all kinds of abuse from folks because they are family. Maybe if we learned to set boundaries with toxic people and stop excusing their behavior, they would learn to be less toxic.
And even if they don’t, you don’t have to deal with their toxic behavior. I can’t tell you how freeing it is to get out of a toxic situation. The sun shines brighter, the sky is bluer, the flowers are more fragrant. Your life will drastically improve when you stop trying to appease toxic people.
10. Embrace the word ‘no’
How much of your life have you wasted doing things you don’t like to do? If you’re like most people, you’ve probably said yes to a ton of things that you don’t actually want to do, either because you felt bad or were peer pressured into it.
A great way to improve your life is to learn to say no. Saying no to a night on the town when drinks aren’t in your budget isn’t going to destroy a friendship. Politely declining a request isn’t going to destroy a relationship (and if it does – the person who is trying to guilt you is probably toxic, and we already talked about removing toxic people from your life).
Don’t take this too far though. There are certain relationships that require sacrifice and doing things we don’t necessarily want to do. Go for that walk through the orchard with your partner. Play that game with your child. But learn to say no to the things that don’t really matter.
11. Start a side hustle
Starting a side hustle isn’t normally on lists about improving your life, but I think that’s a mistake. Starting and working on a side hustle can improve your life in many ways!
First, there’s the financial aspect. If you’re struggling because you don’t have a lot of money, a side hustle can help by increasing your income. But it’s more than that. Starting a side hustle can open you up to an entire world that you never knew existed. It can give you the opportunity to learn new skills and meet new people.
I’ve made tons of new friends through my two side hustles, and have learned so much about networking, web design, writing, SEO, graphic design and more through my side hustles. Even if I never make a huge amount of money from them the personal development has been more than worthwhile.
If you’re ready to start a side hustle, check out the course Launch Your Side Hustle. It has everything you need to know about picking your hustle, getting started, and even paying taxes!
A sister to decluttering is minimizing. Learning to live with less can greatly improve your life. Unfortunately, it took a bookcase collapsing in my house for me to realize this truth of wellness. Why do I have all these books and knickknacks? Surely, I don’t need them all?
I started selling the books I’ve read, the collectibles I no longer need, and all my other extras on Ebay. I also have a bin that’s ready for donation. As I continue going through my old things, listing this and donating that, I get a sense of freedom. I don’t need this stuff. I’ve dragged some of it across the country twice, and why? There’s no reason to keep it other than that I have it. And as it turned out, the stuff became a hindrance to move. Moving is only expensive because I have so much stuff. This stuff now owns me, rather than the other way around.
Getting rid of things you’ve had for your entire adult life is hard, but it’s worthwhile. My goal is to only keep things that I use regularly – dishware, clothing, games, and my favorite books. I don’t need the rest, and getting rid of it has greatly improved my life already.
13. Learn something new
One thing that makes life worth living is discovery. Learning something new opens our eyes to new worlds of possibility. It ignites sparks in us that we may not have known existed.
There are plenty of ways to learn new things. It could be as simple as a google search, wandering down a Wikipedia rabbit hole, or watching a Youtube video. However, the best way to learn something new is to take a class on it.
Thankfully, the online world has opened up opportunities for online learning. You can learn coding, photography, Pinterest, how to train your dog, the workings of diesel engines, a new language, and so much more online these days – the possibilities are endless. Learning something new is an excellent avenue for personal growth and a great option for improving your life.
14. Ignore the haters
Sometimes, we have a lot of stress and anxiety because the people in our lives are bringing us down. Whether it be friends, family, colleagues, or strangers on the internet, it seems like everyone has an opinion about what we are doing, and some of them aren’t so nice.
If you want to improve your life, try to tune out the haters. There will always be people who try to tear you down to their level when they see you succeeded. It’s like the crabs in a bucket theory. Crabs can easily escape the bucket, but if one crab gets close, the others will grab him and pull him back down. They won’t let each other escape.
On the plus side, we aren’t crabs. And we can ignore the people who are trying to keep us trapped in a bucket. Trust me, your life will greatly improve when you start doing this.
15. Find a creative outlet
Embracing your creativity is a great way to feel good in the moment. Doing something that triggers are brain’s creative side improves our self esteem and helps reduce stress. It helps if you have a creative hobby, like crafting or knitting, but don’t feel like not having one limits you.
My favorite way to destress with a little creativity is with an adult coloring book. My favorite show is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I have a coloring book dedicated to the series. When I need a boost, I pull that bad boy out along with some colored pencils and get to coloring!
I don’t know the psychological reasons behind it, but there’s something about zoning out and letting your brain do the coloring/creating that’s insanely relaxing. Even just a thirty-minute session makes me feel better about my life.
16. Identify immediate wants vs long-term wants
I’m never going to be the blogger that tells you not to buy the things that you enjoy. If that latte makes you happy – buy the freaking latte! But, I will say that sometimes things that we think we want in the moment aren’t actually things we really want.
Do you want to spend ten bucks on crappy fast food, or save that money for dinner at a nice restaurant a little later? Which would enhance your life more? The same questions can be asked in regards to junk food and any other impulse buy. Wanting it right now doesn’t mean you actually want it. It’s better to think about what you truly want long-term, and practice mindful spending to ensure that you can achieve that goal. And you know what? You probably won’t miss the crappy fast food or the junk food.
Journaling is one of my favorite things. I love to write notes, to do lists, and everything else in the plethora of journals I keep. But journaling can also improve your life.
Get a separate bullet journal, and start writing about gratitude. Write down three things that you are thankful for every day. These can be big things, like a promotion, or small things, like the way your cat purrs while it’s in your lap, or the way the sun shines through the trees on your morning walk.
Next, write down daily affirmations. These are things that you tell yourself that will help you achieve your goals, or a state of positivity. Some people like to write things about themselves like “I am an amazing person worthy of success” and some people like to write out their goals “I will get that promotion”. The journaling and affirmation process is highly personal, so use the method that works best for you.
When you start acknowledging all the positives in your life, your outlook on life will drastically improve. Journaling is a great way to take a step back and appreciate all the great things you do have. It will increase your overall optimism and lead to a better life.
18. Minimize the junk food
Junk food is amazing. I’d be lying if I didn’t express how much I love it. Cookies, chips, you name it, I want to eat it. But the sad truth is that junk food is not good for you, and it’s not really necessary. All that fat and sugar just makes you feel tired and drains all the energy away.
If you really want to drastically improve your life, cutting out the junk food is an important step. You will become healthier and have more energy to do the things you want to do. Also, junk food can be a huge waste of money, so you can also save a bit by cutting back, which is a great bonus.
But let’s be realistic. If you indulge in one candy bar a week, and it’s your tiny reward for getting through, you don’t have to cut it out. Small indulgences make life worth living, so don’t take away the one weekly treat that you allow yourself.
19. Practice self-care
Self care is not selfish. In fact, establishing self-care routines can work wonders for your emotional health and wellbeing. So improve your life by taking time out for yourself. Ensure that you do the things you need to do to be happy and healthy.
For some great ideas on how to incorporate self-care into your routine, check out our post on self-care Sunday. You may be surprised that some of the ideas listed there will be similar to some of the things here. That’s because self-care and improving your life got hand in hand.
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