Health Expert: 25 Habits to Add to Your Routine in order to be happy

Regardless of your version of true happiness, living a happier, more satisfied life is within reach. Happiness looks different for everyone. For you, maybe it’s being at peace with who you are.

Here’s a look at some daily, monthly, and yearly habits to help kickstart your quest. Just remember that everyone’s version of happiness is a little different, and so is their path to achieving it.

If some of these habits create added stress or just don’t fit your lifestyle, ditch them. With a little time and practice, you’ll figure out what does and doesn’t work for you.

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Daily habits

1. Smile

You tend to smile when you’re happy. But it’s actually a two-way street. We smile because we’re happy, and smiling causes the brain to release dopamine, which makes us happier.

2. Exercise

Exercise isn’t just for your body. Regular exercise can help to reduce stress, feelings of anxiety, and symptoms of depression while boosting self-esteem and happiness. Even a small amount of physical activity can make a difference. You don’t have to train for a triathlon or scale a cliff — unless that’s what makes you happy, of course.

3. Get plenty of sleep

No matter how much modern society steers us toward less sleep, we know that adequate sleep is vitalTrusted Source to good health, brain function, and emotional well-being.

Most adults need about 7 or 8 hours of sleep every night. If you find yourself fighting the urge to nap during the day or just generally feel like you’re in a fog, your body may be telling you it needs more rest.

4. Eat with mood in mind

You already know that food choices have an impact on your overall physical health. But some foods can also affect your state of mind. For example:Start by making one better food choice each day.

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5. Be grateful

Simply being grateful can give your mood a big boost, among other benefits. For example, a recent two-part study found that practicing gratitude can have a significant impact on feelings of hope and happiness.

Start each day by acknowledging one thing you’re grateful for. You can do this while you’re brushing your teeth or just waiting for that snoozed alarm to go off.

6. Give a compliment

Research shows that performing acts of kindness can help you feel more satisfied. Giving a sincere compliment is a quick, easy way to brighten someone’s day while giving your own happiness a boost.

Catch the person’s eye and say it with a smile so they know you mean it. You might be surprised by how good it makes you feel.

7. Breathe deeply

You’re tense, your shoulders are tight, and you feel as though you just might “lose it.” We all know that feeling. Instinct may tell you to take a long, deep breath to calm yourself down. Turns out, that instinct is a good one. According to Harvard Health, deep breathing exercises can help reduce stress.

8. Acknowledge the unhappy moments

A positive attitude is generally a good thing, but bad things happen to everyone. It’s just part of life. If you get some bad news, make a mistake, or just feel like you’re in a funk, don’t try to pretend you’re happy.

Acknowledge the feeling of unhappiness, letting yourself experience it for a moment. Then, shift your focus toward what made you feel this way and what it might take to recover.

9. Keep a journal

A journal is a good way to organize your thoughts, analyze your feelings, and make plans. And you don’t have to be a literary genius or write volumes to benefit.

It can be as simple as jotting down a few thoughts before you go to bed. If putting certain things in writing makes you nervous, you can always shred it when you’ve finished. It’s the process that counts.

10. Face stress head-on

Life is full of stressors, and it’s impossible to avoid all of them. For those stressors you can’t avoid, remind yourself that everyone has stress — there’s no reason to think it’s all on you. And chances are, you’re stronger than you think you are. Instead of letting yourself get overwhelmed, try to tackle the stressor head-on.

Weekly habits

11. Declutter

Decluttering sounds like a big project, but setting aside just 20 minutes a week can have a big impact.

What can you do in 20 minutes? Lots.

Set a timer on your phone and take 15 minutes to tidy up a specific area of one room — say, your closet or that out-of-control junk drawer. Put everything in its place and toss or give away any extra clutter that’s not serving you anymore.

Keep a designated box for giveaways to make things a little easier (and avoid creating more clutter).

12. See friends

Humans are social beings, and having close friends can make us happier.

Who do you miss? Reach out to them. Make a date to get together or simply have a long phone chat.

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In adulthood, it can feel next to impossible to make new friends. But it’s not about how many friends you have. It’s about having meaningful relationships — even if it’s just with one or
two people.

13. Plan your week

Feel like you’re flailing about? Try sitting down at the end of every week and making a basic list for the following week.

Even if you don’t stick to the plan, blocking out time where you can do laundry, go grocery shopping, or tackle projects at work can help to quiet your mind.

14. Ditch your phone

Turn off all the electronics and put those ear buds away for at least one hour once a week. They’ll still be there for you later. If you still want them, that is.

If you haven’t unplugged in a while, you might be surprised at the difference it makes.

15. Get into nature

Spending 30 minutes or more a week in green spaces can help lower blood pressure and depression, according to a 2016 study.

Your green space could be anything from your neighborhood park, your own backyard, or a rooftop garden — anywhere you can appreciate some nature and fresh air.

16. Explore meditation

There are many methods of meditation to explore. They can involve movement, focus, spirituality, or a combination of all three.

Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as sitting quietly with your own thoughts for 5 minutes. Even the deep breathing exercises mentioned earlier can serve as a form of meditation.

17. Consider therapy

We’re certainly happier when we learn how to cope with obstacles. When you’re faced with a problem, think about what got you through something similar in the past. Would it work here? What else can you try?

If you feel like you’re hitting a brick wall, consider speaking with a therapist on a weekly basis. You don’t need to have a diagnosed mental health condition or overwhelming crisis to seek therapy.

Therapists are trained to help people improve coping skills. Plus, there’s no obligation to continue once you start.

18. Find a self-care ritual

It’s easy to neglect self-care in a fast-paced world. But your body carries your thoughts, passions, and spirit through this world, doesn’t it deserve a little TLC?

Maybe it’s unwinding your workweek with a long, hot bath. Or adopting a skin care routine that makes you feel indulgent. Or simply setting aside a night to put on your softest jammies and watch a movie from start to finish.

Monthly habits

19. Give back

If you find that giving daily compliments provides a needed boost to your mood, considering making a monthly routine of giving back on a larger scale.

Maybe that’s helping out at a food bank on the third weekend of every month, or offering to watch your friend’s kids one night per month.

20. Take yourself out

No one to go out with? Well, what rule says you can’t go out alone?

Go to your favorite restaurant, take in a movie, or go on that trip you’ve always dreamed of.

Even if you’re a social butterfly, spending some deliberate time alone can help you reconnect with the activities that truly make you happy.

21. Create a thought list

You arrive for an appointment with 10 minutes to spare. What do you do with that time? Pick up your cell phone to scroll through social media? Worry about the busy week you have ahead of you?

Take control of your thoughts during these brief windows of time.

At the start of each month, make a short list of happy memories or things you’re looking forward to on a small piece of paper or on your phone.

When you find yourself waiting for a ride, standing in line at the grocery store, or just with a few minutes to kill, break out the list. You can even use it when you’re just generally feeling down and need to change up your thoughts.

Yearly habits

22. Take time to reflect

The start of a new year is a good time to stop and take inventory of your life. Set aside some time to catch up with yourself the way you would with an old friend:

  • How are you doing?
  • What have you been up to?
  • Are you happier than you were a year ago?

But try to avoid the pitfall of judging yourself too harshly for your answers. You’ve made it to another year, and that’s plenty.

If you find that your mood hasn’t improved much over the last year, consider making an appointment with your doctor or talking to a therapist. You might be dealing with depression or even an underlying physical condition that’s impacting your mood.

23. Reevaluate your goals

People change, so think about where you’re heading and consider if that’s still where you want to go. There’s no shame in changing your game.

Let go of any goals that no longer serve you, even if they sound nice on paper.

24. Take care of your body

You hear it all the time, including several times in this article, but your physical and mental health are closely intertwined.

As you build habits to improve your happiness, make sure to follow up with routine appointments to take care your body: See your primary care physician for an annual physical

Take care of any chronic health conditions and see specialists as recommended
see your dentist for an oral exam and follow up as recommended get your vision checked

25. Let go of grudges

This is often easier said than done. But you don’t have to do it for the other person. Sometimes, offering forgiveness or dropping a grudge is more about self-care than compassion for others.

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Take stock of your relationships with others. Are you harboring any resentment or ill will toward someone? If so, consider reaching out to them in an effort to bury the hatchet. This doesn’t have to be a reconciliation. You may just need to end the relationship and move on.

If reaching out isn’t an option, try getting your feelings out in a letter. You don’t even have to send it to them. Just getting your feelings out of your mind and into the world can be freeing.

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