Whether you’re in the career of your dreams or you’re still on your way to getting there, you might find yourself wondering from time to time whether you’re truly happy. Could you be missing something? Are you truly fulfilled and following the path meant for you?
Asking yourself those questions is normal, and it might indicate that you’re not as happy as you could be. One way to achieve a little more happiness is to find a career that suits you and your lifestyle -- but even if you’re stuck in a job or a situation that you don’t like, there are lots of other things you could be doing to ensure you’re living a happy and healthy life. Here are some of the top tips from experts on health and happiness.
1. Eat a balanced diet
You’ve heard it since primary school: You truly are what you eat. When you put crap into your body, don’t expect anything but crap to be the result. Your body thrives on fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates. You might be surprised to find how much better you can feel about life by simply eating a nourishing diet. It really does work.
2. Move your body
Working a desk job is no excuse for not getting the exercise your body needs for good mental and physical health. In fact, that sedentary job is all the more reason for moving your body as much as possible, every day. Get at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every day, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as doing strength-training exercises at least two days a week. It will help you maintain a healthy weight, maintain muscle as you age, and just generally improve your mood. If you work a desk job, make a point to walk around the office for a few minutes every hour. Go on a walk at lunch, or simply stand up while you’re making your daily round of phone calls. It all adds up.
3. Get your stress level under control
Lots of people live with chronic stress, and it’s not good for their health -- or their happiness. The best way to deal with it is to remove the source of stress. Quit that job you hate, sell the car that’s constantly breaking, or get rid of that boyfriend who constantly asks you for money. When removing the source is not an option, find healthy ways to manage your stress. Exercise will help as will mind-body practices such as yoga and meditation. Try to maintain a positive outlook on life and to remember that your life is yours to do with what you wish. If you still can’t manage it, get professional help from a counselor or psychotherapist.
4. Spend time with friends and family
There’s way more to life than work, work, work, and if you’re not out there enjoying it, you’re not going to experience a high quality of life. Whether it’s meeting a friend for coffee once a week or having a backyard barbeque on the weekends, the relationships you build and the quality time you spend with your loved ones are what life’s all about. According to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, strong social ties can even help you live longer -- thus speaking to the health benefits of your relationships. If that means spending less time at work, do it!
5. Insist on enough sleep
Are you getting enough sleep at night? Adults need between seven and nine hours a night for good health. If you’re the type who has trouble getting to sleep at night -- leading to chronic sleep deprivation -- try turning off your electronic devices at least one hour before bed. Turn down the lights, read a book, and just generally spend the last hour of the night relaxing and unplugging. Sleep aids are a short-term solution, but they can create dependence, and they won’t fit in with your quest to live a healthier, happier life.
6. Stop taking yourself so seriously
Practice looking at life through the eyes of a child, suggests Dr. Susan Biali on the Psychology Today website. Children are more likely to be silly and fun, and they don’t worry about life’s problems. Aim to be more like them and you’ll live a happier life, says Dr. Biali. You might have money troubles or relationship troubles that need your attention, but when you’re not in the midst of those dealings, try to let it go and to enjoy each moment.
See also: How to Make Cheap Healthy Lunches
There’s no secret recipe for being healthy and happy -- but there are some basic ingredients that happy and healthy people tend to include in their lives. Add those to your life and you’ll probably start to see lots of improvements.