For about one year, I’ve been doing 8 simple things that make me feel happy and calm. I gleaned these, of course, from several different books and these activities have literally changed my life.
Here they are:
(1) Sunshine: Get 20 minutes of bright light every day. Light activates Vitamin D which is essential for your body, especially skin. If you don’t live in California like me, there are special lights you can get that give you the same result. Our skin and bodies get all kinds of cues from light. Getting light regularly will make you sleep better and make you happier. I don’t know exactly why it works but it does.
(2) Vitamins: Fish oil is my favorite but I also take a multi vitamin, vitamin D, and C. My skin is glowing, seriously. It looks better than it ever has and I’m 43. By the way, I used to think vitamins were a waste of money and never took them before last year.
(3) Walk: You don’t need hardcore exercise. Don’t walk to lose weight or look better. Do it for your mental health, 45 minutes a day. (If you do live in California or somewhere else sunny or its the right season, you can kill two birds with one stone getting your light this way.)
(4) Sleep: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. An hour before sleep, dim your lights only do things that relax you. Don’t do anything that might stress you out once your quiet time starts (difficult conversations, checking email etc.) I think making sleep a priority is maybe the most important change I’ve made, and also why my skin glows: )
(5) Social interaction: If you’re introspective like me, it may be hard to get yourself out there. If you’re a mom with little kids and introspective, you may not realize you need to be around people. You do. Every day, not your kids. It doesn’t even matter who so much. When you socialize, just be careful not to use other people to ruminate with (see “don’t ruminate” below.)
(6) Engaging activity: What do you do that makes you lose track of time completely? Do it! Ideally, this engaging activity has something to do with your work but it doesn’t have to.
(7) Meditate: This activity trains you to stay in your body, not your head. I meditate ever morning.
(8) Don’t ruminate: This was the hardest activity for me to stop. I thought that ruminating was insightful and key to my personality, and if I stopped, I’d be the hole in the doughnut. What convinced me to risk trying is that I realized I could always go back to obsessive thinking if I wanted to. Here’s what I learned: if you’re going to get to an insight, it happens in the first 10 minutes or so. The rest of the time, you’re just stuck. Here’s another incredible surprise: happiness is insightful.