We are all so busy. Jobs, grueling commutes, children with their endless needs, and the seemingly always looming mountain climb that is bureaucracy, among many more items that crowd our lives. Where is the time to make ourselves happy? It’s important to do this, as the happier we are, the more productive we will be in all areas of our life.
In our demanding and busy schedules, we can incorporate ways to make ourselves happy by infusing our everyday routines with happiness-makers. This article will give you a few ideas. Maybe one of them resonates for you, or it can inspire you to think of your own.
1. Essential Oils
What a game-changer. Who hasn’t heard of the amazing benefits of essential oils? There is lavender for calming, tea tree oil and lemon for purifying and uplifting, peppermint to wake me up and make me happy, frankincense for clarity and meditation. In my yoga classes, I diffuse and offer oils to uplift for a good yoga practice, and for meditative purposes. It’s wonderful for mind, body and spirit. You can adopt this for your home as well and experiment with the different scents and mood-enhancers.
2. Yoga All Day, Every Day, and Everywhere!
What if I told you that you could do yoga and feel great, without spending any time or money at all? One of the biggest advantages of yoga (besides just awesome it is) is that you can do it anywhere. It’s low-cost and doesn’t require special equipment. You can do it in your bedroom, on the beach, even at your office or on the bus, or anywhere you have a few feet of space. Are you going to do full headstands on the bus or in the presence of your boss and coworkers? No, likely not! (Unless your office is like that, in which case, party on.) But you can do a few yoga poses and breathing techniques pretty much anywhere, making you feel physically and spiritually rejuvenated and happy.
Lift one foot and place it on the inside of your other calf, and you’re working your balancing muscles. If that’s not subtle enough, just lift the foot an inch or two off the ground – that’s all you need to engage those muscles! This is the basis of tree pose!
Throughout your work day, you can practice good posture, breathing deeply and rotating your shoulders back to open your chest. This expands your lungs to allow more air, and with all the hunching we do over computers these days, simply sitting up straight is direly needed. Everyone needs to be doing this a few times a day to remind themselves not to slump in front of the computer.
While standing and waiting for the bus, or even while brushing your teeth, roll up on your tip-toes and hold. How often do we stand on our toes? This is a great strengthening exercise to make our feet strong and give us a strong foundation.
Anytime you are standing or sitting, arch your back so your shoulders rotate backwards, and your spine goes concave. To further feel the stretch, raise your chin and look at the ceiling, letting your neck relax and hang. This is a very gentle backbend and is amazing for your spine, shoulders and to open your chest and airways. Then round your shoulders, drop her chin toward your chest and make your spine convex. If you include a pelvic tilt, rocking gently forward and back doing these simple exercises, this is similar to the cat/cow positions of yoga to wake up your shoulders, back and spine.
There are so many things you can do! Butterfly pose while sitting on the couch. Low bridge pose while laying in bed reading. Two birds with one stone leading to a happier and physically better you.
3. Set the Mood
Research shows that clean and uncluttered leads to higher happiness levels. Our physical environment affects our emotional state. I love a calming, clean and uncluttered atmosphere. It’s an important tool to be able to tune out that clutter so we can focus, but this is not a trait that comes easy to many.
Create the environment that is emotionally healthy for you. Make it happy. Clean. Uncluttered. Funky. Whatever works for you and your personality!
One Clean Room:
Pick one room to keep uncluttered and clean. Work on making that space beautiful, serene and calming. I picked my living room, because that’s where I practice yoga and meditation.
By merely keeping one room as your “safe” place, you can retreat there when you need a respite from the clutter and mess of the rest of the home. Put items in that room that make you happy – a plant, a favorite picture, your favorite scent of candle.
Start thinking – how can you change your physical environment so you derive more pleasure and happiness from it? Do you like green plants and flowers? Pictures of cuddly animals? A warm shaggy 70’s style rug? Start brainstorming and happy planning!
This one is easy. We grow some flowers, we cut off a few, and place them in water for our table. No need to go out and purchase fancy bouquets if you don’t want. Why does this work? Well, I love plants and they make me happy. That is all.
5. Keep It Simple
I spent 3 months backpacking with everything I needed loaded on my back. I learned a valuable lesson: that heavy camping stove is not worth schlepping up a big mountain. I learned with time to simplify the contents of my pack and trekking the wilderness became infinitely more enjoyable. It’s the same in life. Pare down, keep only what you need, and you’ll feel lighter and able to climb those steep mountains in life with less weighing you down.
The more fancy tech gimmicks we own, the more complicated camping gear, vehicles, clothes, equipment and toys – they clutter our lives, our physical space, our mental space, and, maybe most importantly, they clutter our time. Time is our most precious commodity. More stuff is more to move around, put away, fix, clean, think about, require updates or adjust. Keep life simple. Own what you need. I guarantee those mountains in life will feel a lot easier with less weighed on your proverbial back!
Maybe not for everyone, but my days start a whole lot better with a good cuddle. And so I wasn’t surprised when I read about all the healthy benefits, both physical and emotional, that come from cuddling.
7. Get Outside
Nature is therapy. And it doesn’t cost anything! You can read about tree therapy here. Next time you are looking for something to do, take it outside when you can. Just a few ideas: alking, hiking, a picnic, yoga, writing in a journal, drinking coffee with a friend, playing cards.
8. Do Everything in Your Power to Get Enough Sleep (And I Do Mean Everything!)
I have an 8 month old baby who just started sleeping through the night. Sleep is hard to come by for many of us. I get it. I really do. And this isn’t my first rodeo as I went through a year of no sleep with my first child.
But sleep is required for basic functions. Our bodies break down and require sleep in order to heal. It is imperative that we get enough sleep. If you’re still nursing a young baby, you probably just need to grin and bear it to get through (while relying on your support system and coffee-maker). But if you don’t have a good reason (like a baby) for getting enough sleep, this one is for you.
Put down the phone. Turn off the television. Make your bed into a sanctuary of peace and calm and relaxation, a place where you heal and restore for at least 8 hours per night. If you know you need more sleep, why do you bring your phone into bed with you and scroll through Instagram and/or Facebook for an hour? Why, when we know that staring at a phone screen is detrimental to your sleep quality and quantity? It’s time to break the addiction, and use our will power to ensure we engage in healthy pre-sleep activities.
Time it: what time do you need to wake up? Now subtract at least 8 hours. That’s your bedtime. Now go to bed a half hour before that time. Dim the lights, use a reading lamp and curl up in your cozy and uncluttered bed with a book. A few nights of this and I can almost guarantee that you will feel really damn good.
If you are still having trouble, try listening to a guided meditation for sleep, designed to lull you to sleep when the thoughts in your head won’t stop.
What are some ways you can incorporate happiness into your life?
Take a good honest look at yourself and your life. What are some small and easy things that make you happy? How can you incorporate those into your life? And, lastly, now that you know – what is stopping you?