When it comes to creating a more balanced, happy life, we often look to massive lifestyle shifts as the only solution. (If you, like me, have ever set a New Year’s resolution to simply “be healthier”, you probably know what I mean).
This mentality often results in overwhelm, lack of sustainability, and a huge sense of frustration when results don’t come as quickly or as easily as we’d like.
But I’ve got great news for you…
Improving your life doesn’t have to be complicated.
When it comes down to it, the most effective way to create a balanced and happy life is to continually focus on building better everyday habits at a sustainable pace.
Today I’m sharing 10 simple daily habits that have noticeably made my life better. I encourage you to try them too!
1. Start a daily gratitude practice
If there’s one habit I could point to that has had the most noticeable impact on my sense of happiness and contentment it would have to be starting a daily gratitude practice.
Implementing a daily gratitude practice re-trains your brain to constantly look for the good in your life, and to notice the simple privileges and pleasures that we so often take for granted.
To start a daily gratitude practice, be sure to print out your Gratitude Journal above, and then simply write down three things that you are grateful for each day.
Try to make each item as specific as possible, in order to avoid your gratitude practice becoming redundant and mindless.
For example, instead of saying “my family”, write down a particular conversation or moment shared with a family member that you’re grateful for.
2. Make Your Bed
I totally used to be that person who was like, “Why make my bed if I’m just going to sleep in it again tonight?”
But not anymore fam! I’ve seen the light and I ain’t goin’ back.
Your physical surroundings have a huge impact on your state of mind.
Living or working in a cluttered, unorganized environment increases your stress levels and leads to a cluttered, disorganized mind.
In addition to the clarity that comes from living and working in a tidy space, making your bed:
a) Makes it a lot less likely that you’re going to crawl back into it in the morning when your alarm clock inevitably goes off too soon and
b) is a small success that allows you start building some momentum in the morning by crossing a task off your to-do list.
3. Learn something new every day
I’m a firm believer that you should learn something new every day, which is why I always make time to read.
Later in the evening when I’m winding down for bed, I always spend some time reading a book on a topic that I’m interested in learning more about (right now it’s the mind-body connection and gut health!).
If reading isn’t your jam – consider making time for learning via podcasts, audiobooks, or videos. These formats are also handy for turning a long commute into productive learning time.
4. Floss them chompers
Is that a guarantee? Not necessarily, but it can’t hurt, amirite?
Plus, it’s just good hygiene, yo!
5. Get ya greens in
A healthy lifestyle is about a lot more than calories in vs calories out.
Where your food comes from is just as (or more) important.
Plants are a key source of vitamins, minerals, and secondary compounds that the average American’s diet is severely lacking.
I’ve gotta admit – I’m not that girl who can sit around and munch on kale, so I continuously look for opportunities to sneak some greens into foods that I already eat every day, like adding spinach to my eggs or pasta.
My favorite way to make sure I’m getting a healthy variety of plants in my diet is with my morning smoothie.
I try to always incorporate a variety of different plants, depending on what’s in season, but some reliably present ingredients are:
- 1 scoop of
- A handful of spinach
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice
- All da berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries)
- Fresh ginger root (I’m low key, HIGH KEY addicted)
- Almond milk, a dollop of plain greek yogurt, and half a small banana for a thicker consistency. You can use water to keep it more low-cal.
6. Laugh Often
“Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.”
I’ll never forget the time I spent traveling in Cambodia – Over the span of 2 weeks I managed to get the WORST food poisoning I’ve ever experienced, discovered my hotel room was infested with bed-bugs, wing-womaned the most PAINFULLY LONG and awkward tinder date, missed my boat to an island, got into a squabble with a pushy taxi driver, and more.
Pretty much everything that could go wrong, did.
And I don’t think I’ve ever laughed more in my life.
Things are inevitably going to go wrong in life, and a lot of times there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.
So you can either wallow in misery or choose to find the humor in every situation.
Laugh at yourself. Laugh with friends. Whatever you do, laugh often.
It’s good for the soul.
7. Get up and MOVE!
You don’t need me to tell you the many benefits of exercise, you’ve heard it all before. Yet only 22.9 percent (!) of adults in the U.S. are meeting the federal standards for physical activity.
One of the best things that you can do for your health, happiness and overall quality of life is GET MOVING!
I personally prefer weightlifting, but remember – if the weight room isn’t your jam – there are SO many ways to incorporate more activity into your days.
Outside of traditional resistance training there’s spinning, yoga, boxing, pilates, mma, zumba, the list goes on…
The most important thing is to find something you actually like and will stick to over the long-term.
Short on time or money?
Simply go for a walk. Play with your dog or children. While at work, set a timer for 30 minutes and when it goes off get up and walk around the office for 5 minutes.
Being active doesn’t have to mean going to the gym every day, so find what works for you, and look for ways to add more activity into what you already do every day (i.e. taking the steps instead of the elevator).
8. Give your morning coffee a boost
A nice big cup of joe is already an essential part of my morning, but besides the necessary rush of caffeine to take me from zombie mode to fully-functioning human, I like to add supplements to my coffee for an additional health boost.
Other worthy additions to consider are:
- Cinnamon. Cinnamon is antioxidant-rich, lowers blood glucose levels and is a healthy alternative to sugar for adding some flavor.
- Turmeric. Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and also boosts BDNF – a hormone that functions in your brain – resulting in improved cognitive function and a lower risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
- L-Theanine. This was one of my favorite coffee hacks back in my college days. L-Theanine is an amino acid that works synergistically with caffeine to enhance focus and reduce anxiety.
9. Write in your Journal
My mind constantly feels like it’s going a million miles a minute, which at times can make it hard to concentrate fully on what I most need to do.
Keeping a journal doesn’t have to be anything elaborate.
It simply provides the opportunity to get all of the jumbled thoughts in your head down on paper so you can stop worrying about them and create space to focus on the most important tasks at hand.
I also find journaling to be a great way to process things that have happened or work through challenges that I’m facing.
Somehow it seems to bring a sense clarity that simply thinking about an issue doesn’t (anyone else know what I mean?).
Not to mention – my favorite bonus perk of keeping journals: day to day you may feel like you’re not accomplishing enough or are not where you want to be in life, but it’s crazy to look back at things you wrote 5 years ago and realize just how far you’ve come and how much you’ve grown as a person.
10. Sing and Dance
This isn’t really a habit that I intentionally formed – it’s just a natural consequence of having my headphones on 24/7 – BUT I truly believe singing and dancing daily makes for a happy life.
And you don’t have to take my word for it – a number of scientific studies have come out demonstrating that you get a much bigger release of endorphins – neurotransmitters that create a feeling of comfort, relaxation, and fun – from dancing than during other forms of exercise.
Music and dancing also activate the emotional and pleasure centers of the brain as well as boost creative thinking and cognitive function.
Now I want to hear from you!
Those are 10 things that I do daily that make my life better, but now I want to know – What do YOU do every day that has had a positive impact on your life? Let me know in the comments below!