Everybody wants to be happy, but not everyone knows how to get there. Happiness is definitely a state of mind, but there are things we can do to be happier. The following habits are things you can do on a regular basis to be a happier mom and person in general.
When you feel good, you are happier. Taking care of your body means less aches and pains, less sickness. This logically leads to increased happiness. If you wake up still tired because of lack of sleep, or you constantly get sick because you aren't getting the right nutrients, its hard to stay positive. These first few habits concentrate on maintaining a healthy body for happiness.
1. Exercise Regularly
In this day and age, we move our bodies a lot less than the previous generations did and this has a huge impact on our physical and mental well-being.
As Dr. Bob Butler once said, "If there was a drug that provided all the benefits that exercise does, the whole world would be taking it."
It’s not just about looking good in a swimsuit; exercise releases proteins and endorphins in our brain, which makes us feel happier. It helps us think more clearly and can even make us more productive at work. Exercise is essential for a happy life.
A 30 minute yoga practice, an evening walk, a quick tabata, or even light stretching can really help increase your overall happiness.
2. Eat Healthy
We've all heard the phrase "you are what you eat". Well there's a reason If you are regularly consume unhealthy, processed, fake foods you aren't getting the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to thrive. This can lead to all sorts of ailments that many of us just see as a part of getting older but is actually the compound effect of eating unhealthily over a long period of time.
Here are some simple habits that can increase your overall health:
- Drink more water
- Cook homemade meals so you know what you are eating
- Pay attention to how you feel after eating different foods to determine ones that may cause indigestion
- Increase vegetables
- Increase plant based proteins
- Eat less sugar and artificial junk foods;
- Consume less alcohol and tobacco
- Take vitamins
3. Get More Sleep
Sleep is essential for happiness, and mental clarity. A study published in Harvard Medical School concludes that, among other things, sleep is essential for
- Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.
- Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
- Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.
And those are just some of the benefits of increased sleep!
In order to ensure that you are getting enough sleep, give yourself a bed time. Tell your spouse that you are trying to get more sleep and ask them to help keep you accountable.
If you are one of those people who have a million thoughts about what you need to get done the next day, give yourself some time (before your bedtime) to do a brain dump and write down all of your to dos. This will give your brain a break and should allow you to get to sleep easier.
You can also try taking some magnesium in the evening to help you get to sleep.
4. Keep a Journal
Journaling is an extremely powerful way to process events in your life, become more self aware, practice gratitude, and hold onto memories. Many great thinkers had this habit, including Leonardo daVinci, Mark Twain, Thomas Jefferson, and Ernest Hemingway just to name a few. ,
Some people like using blank journals where they can just jot their thoughts. Others like ones with writing prompts like the one I created. Still others like using apps.
It's helpful to make journaling a daily habit, even if its just a few minutes a day. What should you write about? Here are some ideas:
- Random creative ideas that come to you
- Things you are grateful for
- Your goals and aspirations
- Memories you want to hold onto
5. Watch Less TV
Brian Tracy, author of the book No Excuses, had this to say about television watching:
Your television set can make you rich or poor. If you watch it all the time, it will make you poor. Psychologists have shown that the more television you watch, the lower are your levels of energy and self-esteem. At an unconscious level, you don’t like or respect yourself as much if you sit there hour after hour watching television. People who watch too much television also gain weight and become physically unfit from sitting around too much. Your television can also make you rich—but only if you turn it off. When you turn off your television, you free up time that you can then use to invest in becoming a better, smarter, and more competent person. When you leave your television off when you are with your family, you will find yourself talking, sharing, communicating, and laughing more often. When you leave your television off for extended periods of time, you break the habit of watching television—and you will hardly miss it at all. Your television can be an excellent servant, but it’s a terrible master. The choice is yours.
Watching too much tv can cause you to be more sedentary which can cause you to gain weight. It is also a major time suck. Think about all the things you can get done instead of watching just 1 hour of TV.
Some researchers have found a correlation between more TV watching and more anxiety and low level depression.
These same consequences can be linked to the other forms of media which can be consumed through our computers, phones, and tablets.
6. Simple Life = Happy Life
There is a reason why minimalism has become such a desirable lifestyle. There are so many benefits to having less stuff and having less commitments.
When we have too many options or choices it causes stress on our brain. Too much activity distracts us and stresses us, preventing any real fulfillment.
Have you ever walked into a crowded store with items stuffed onto the shelves? Compare that to entering a cleanly laid out boutique. Just entering an overcrowded space can make you feel overwhelmed and uneasy. Even if its not even your stuff.
As humans, we fear loss. We can't stand the idea of missing out on an opportunity, or giving away those pants we spent a lot of money on but wore only once 3 years ago. When you're in the midst of it, it's hard to see the real impact that holding onto stuff you don't need has on your life.
Here are some exercises for you to try:
- Do a spring cleaning in you home, and give away / throw away half of the things that you have not used in the past 12 months
- Delete all the apps on your phone that you have not used on the past 6 months
- Make a list of 3 activities or projects you need to say “no” to
7. Write Down Your Goals
I’ve talked about the value of putting pen to paper before, but when it comes to setting and achieving goals, it’s absolutely essential. You might believe that keeping you goals in your head is sufficient, but there is a significant impact of writing out your goals and your plan to achieve them. Check out this study in Forbes magazine:
A Harvard Business Study found that the 3% of graduates from their MBA who had their goals written down, ended up earning ten times as much as the other 97% put together, just ten years after graduation.
So, writing down where you wish to be in your life, and journaling about it, will highly increase the likelihood of you creating the life you want.
8. Maintain Close Relationships
Spending time with the people that are important to you including your close friends, your spouse, and your family will bring you much greater happiness. I know that this can be especially hard for moms with young kids. We find it really difficult to get away especially if we spend our work hours outside of the house. But maintaining these bonds of intimacy and friendship are essential to our well-being.
Even a quick call or message can do wonders to help you nurture those close relationships. It lets people know they are on your mind even if you can't physically hang out at the moment. Make it one of your to dos to reach out to a friend or two each week to develop those relationships.
Not spending quality time with the people you love is actually one of the top regrets of the dying. In fact, having relationships with others is one of our basic human needs. In addition, there are studies that correlate marriage, or a committed long-term relationship, to higher satisfaction in life.
So, if you want to be happier, reach out to the people you care about and work to maintain those relationships.
9. Give To Others
You know that feeling at Christmas when you watch your kid open the gift you know that they have been wanting for forever. Sometimes you end up more excited about the present than the kid. Seeing their happiness brings so much joy to our own lives.
Giving to others promotes your own happiness, especially when connected to a person or cause that we truly care about. Helping others, giving to others, and serving others, releases “happiness chemicals” such as dopamine and oxytocin. These hormones tell our brains to be happy,
Of course, we are assuming that you are giving or serving out of the kindness of your heart, and not due to obligation or social pressure. It also assumes that you are doing it in a way that is balanced with your own personal needs. You don't want to give so much that it is harmful to yourself or your family.
You don't need to donate millions of dollars or give up your job for a life of utter service to get this feeling. Volunteer for a few hours, gather household items for donation (this is a win-win since you get a cleaner house), raise money for a charity walk, purchase a gift for those in need at Christmas time. There are so many small things that we can do to serve others.
On the other hand, parenting itself is a way of giving and also releases similar hormones in the brain like my Christmas gift example. So since you are a busy mom, you may already have this covered. Of course, more giving never hurt!
10. Spend Time in Nature
Spending time in nature, even a quick walk in the park, is linked to higher levels of vitality and well-being, according to various studies. Not only does it get you some exercise but it also increases your vitamin D levels and increases concentration
Here is an excerpt from the book Brain-Power regarding this effect:
“Poets and philosophers have always counseled people regarding the benefits of being in nature, and now science is catching up. In a study published in the journal Psychological Science in 2008, neuroscientist John Jonides, Ph.D., and his colleagues measured students’ performance on tests of memory and attention before and after taking a walk. One group strolled through a beautiful arboretum near the campus of the University of Michigan, and the other walked in downtown Ann Arbor. The researchers discovered that those who walked in nature improved their test scores by 20 percent, while those who walked in the city showed no improvement (moreover, they reported a decline in perceived well-being). The researchers concluded, “In sum, we have shown that simple and brief interactions with nature can produce marked increases in cognitive control. To consider the availability of nature as merely an amenity fails to recognize the vital importance of nature in effective cognitive functioning.””
Take to the kids to the botanical garden, or for a hike, or to a lake. Time out in nature is good for everyone.
11. Develop a Morning Routine
I've said it before and I'll say it again, having a morning routine is essential to starting your day off right. It can improve your mood, make your morning more relaxing since you don't have to think about what to do next, and gives you energy for the day.
In fact, many of the most successful people in the world promote the importance of a regular morning routine. It is a great opportunity to take care of your body and mind, and start the day on the right foot.
The specific morning routine that will work for one person may vary greatly for someone else. You may need to experiment to see what works for you and your family. Some things you may want to include are:
- Some stretching or exercise
- Planning your day – write down the three most important things you need to do today
12. Stay Positive
The greatest thief of our happiness is our allowing it to be stolen. In every situation we have a choice as to how we will react. We can choose to get mad, or choose to stay happy. No-one is happy all of the time, but many of us let the littlest things ruin our day.
When you get cut off by another car, don't get mad, just move on. Don't always assume the worst of intentions. Let your kids do things wrong and then learn from their mistakes.
Happiness is a choice and in many situations we have the choice to be mad or be happy. Choose to think the best. Choose positivity. Choose happy.
The world we live in is go, go, go. We are constantly rushing from one task to the next. We barely have time to breathe much less celebrate small wins and enjoy our lives.
We have a cult of speed and busy-ness in our society. But being busy is not the same as being productive. It can often be an escape from thinking or feeling something.
In order to live better, we need to create space to breathe, and to think. We need to value relaxation and contemplation more. Not everything needs to get done by us.
Nothing is gonna happen if you miss that next update, phone call, or tweet. Slow down. Take a break when needed. Create space to stop and think outside of the box.
Let me know which habits are essential in your life to keep you happy. Leave them in the comments!