We recently kicked off a new year, and with a new year comes New Year’s resolutions. If you’re still trying to figure out what goals to set, read on. In this blog, we will share 19 tricks to live happier in 2019.
In previous blog posts, we’ve talked about the importance of a college education in terms of mental health. However, learning in any form is good for your brain and mental health. In fact, learning stimulates the growth of white mater as well as neuropathway connections in the brain and can even help reduce your chances of dementia.
Whether you’ve already finished college or not, you can still learn new skills by taking a class on something that interests you. Check into your local community colleges for adult education courses to learn something new, like photography, dance, improv, foreign language, communication, business, and computer skills.
Continuous learning will enhance your quality of life; research shows that building mastery in life skills increases self-confidence, reduces the risk of depression, and promotes an overall sense of well-being.
On our blog, we’ve also discussed the importance of giving back. Why not set a goal in 2019 to perform an act of service? You could look for volunteer opportunities in your community, organize a service project, or be on the lookout for small ways to help people throughout your day.
For example, you could help someone carry their groceries, lend a hand to a family member with their house chores, or do something unexpected for someone. Try searching VolunteerMatch.org to find some great opportunities to volunteer in your local community.
Self-care is an important aspect of mental health regardless of whether you struggle with a mental health condition like depression or anxiety. No one should neglect themselves by forgetting to take time to do the things that make them happy.
This year, make a goal to treat yourself to something special on a regular basis. Consider a monthly pedicure, book a massage, or get a makeover. Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive; you could even treat yourself to an afternoon of doing nothing at all if that’s what your brain and body need to recharge.
Relationships are another aspect of our lives that directly affect our mental health. Even introverts need human connection to feel engaged in life. Don’t forget to make time for the ones you love, like family members, your best friend, significant other, and anyone else who is important to you.
Get out and meet new people to create meaningful new relationships and broaden your support network. People need people to feel alive and well. You may be surprised by how much better you feel after spending time with someone you care about and who cares about you.
You may not realize it, but your diet can have a major impact on mental health, positive and negative. When paired with the right treatments like medication and therapy, a healthy diet can make tremendous improvements to mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. If you’re looking for a way to improve your mood this year, your diet is a great place to start. Try switching out some of those junk foods for vegetables instead.
Exercise is another habit that only helps improve your mental health. Exercise causes the brain to release dopamine and endorphin, which are known as feel-good hormones because they make you feel good about yourself.
If you don’t regularly exercise, start small. If you overdo it, you won’t feel good. Find one thing that you like to do and start there. Go for walks, ride your bike, or do anything else that you enjoy but also helps you stay active.
Doing things you’re good at can also release endorphins and boost your confidence. If you’re good at cooking, take a cooking class. If you’re good at singing, take voice lessons. If you’re an artist, take a painting or drawing class. You can even just make time to practice on your own. However you do it, developing your talents will help you feel good about yourself, which can make you happier.
Journaling can be therapeutic because it allows you to work through your feelings. Journals are also a great way to track your progress and see how far you’ve come from setting goals or dealing with life’s struggles. You can also use a journal to help you remember the good times. But the best thing about journals is that they can be anything you want them to be; you can let your creativity run wild.
Psychologists say that people who actively work on friendships as they do on romantic relationships are happier than those who don’t. They also say that those with at least 10 friends are happier than those with 5 or fewer friends. In 2019, try to expand your social circle by engaging with more people and forming new connections.
Organizing and decluttering can do wonders for your mental health. Living in a space that is disorganized and has too much stuff can be overwhelming and actually increase anxiety. Go through one room at a time and get rid of what you don’t need. Also, try rearranging the furniture to make it feel like a brand new space. You may be surprised by how much better you feel after giving your space a fresh look.
Multiple research studies suggest that doing outdoor activities like hiking can not only improve mental health and brain functions but also reduce inflammation and even prevent cancer. So if you want to improve your physical and mental health in 2019, make time for more outdoor activities.
Studies show that hugs can reduce the stress of the person giving and receiving the physical touch. Hugs can also make you happier, boost your heart rate, protect against illnesses, and reduce physical pain — not to mention that hugging and physical touch are great ways to communicate affection to your loved ones and strengthen your relationships.
Meditation is another activity that can increase the levels of dopamine in our brains, making us feel happy. Studies also show that short-term and long-term meditation can literally rewire the brain to be more positive. Meditation is also a great way to relieve stress since it involves clearing the mind and taking deep breaths.
Studies show that planting a garden can reduce depression and increase quality of life and sense of community. If you don’t have the space for a garden, consider getting houseplants, which are known to reduce CO2 levels in the home, promote the flow of oxygen, and even cleanse indoor air of pollutants, all of which can lead to increased energy and lower stress.
When we laugh, our brain releases endorphins, or feel-good chemicals. Studies show that laughter can even alter serotonin and dopamine activity, which are commonly lower in people with depression. So the saying, laughter is the best medicine, is not far off.
Lack of sleep causes irritability, fatigue, lack of motivation, and other symptoms that can make it hard to live a happy life. Getting a full 7–9 hours of sleep per night is probably one of the quickest and easiest things you can do to improve your mood.
Making sure you’re hydrated is one of the most important parts of your physical health. But did you know that how much water you drink can also affect your mood? A study done at the University of Connecticut showed that the more water participants drank during the day, the better their mood.
Reading can enrich your life in a lot of ways. For example, a study in the UK showed that reading novels inspired people to make a positive change in their lives, travel, or take up a new hobby. Avid readers also reported greater feelings of happiness and better connections with people.
According to Psychology Today, pet owners are happier and have higher self-esteem than those who don’t own animals. A pet also gives you better social support and validation, and snuggling your pet can help reduce a lot of feelings that come with conditions like depression and anxiety.
If you’re looking for easy tricks to live a happier and healthier life this year, try some of these suggestions. You’ll be amazed by what these small changes can do for you.
Another way to live happier and healthier is to take care of your mental health. If you’re struggling with the symptoms of anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD, ADHD, or another mental health condition, contact us at Serenity Mental Health Centers to schedule an appointment.