Happiness is a choice. I know people don’t like to hear it, and it’s not meant to take away from the seriousness of depression and other mental illnesses, but happiness is very much a conscious choice. It’s not always an easy choice, but a choice nonetheless. While there’s no denying that many mental health issues and illnesses stem from a chemical imbalance in the brain or unresolved trauma and pain, the choice to be a little bit happier is always there. Sure, it may not erase your suffering or even ease your depression, but choosing happiness can help. For example, if you suffer from depression, adding happy habits into your lifestyle may not cure your mental illness, but it will drastically change the way it affects you or at least lessen the severity of your symptoms for the time being. It can help, but you have to be willing to make the choice to improve your mental health.
11 Happy Habits to Add Into Your Daily Life
Today, we’re discussing the various happy habits you can add into your daily life in an effort to improve your mental health. Some of them are easier than others, but they are all worth a try and can help you shift your mind from negative to positive.
1. Talk about what’s going on
Out of all the happy habits we talk about, this is, inarguably, one of the most important ones. It is absolutely crucial for you to have someone you can talk to. We highly recommend speaking with a mental health professional (the affordable therapy options make it easy!) or to doing something as simple as talking to your furry companion, best friend, family member or even someone within the Anxiety Gone community can improve your anxiety, depression and overall mental health.
Otherwise, you will continue to hold in all of your thoughts and emotions, which can be overwhelming. So, even if you feel like you have nothing to talk about, still make an effort to communicate with someone about your day – yes, even on good days. Opening up should never be limited to just bad days.
2. Stop to smell the roses
This old saying hasn’t stuck around for all these years for no reason. “Stop to smell the roses”, which essentially means to stop and take a moment to be present and to appreciate the wonderful things around you. Perhaps it’s literally stopping to smell the roses, trees and flowers as you take a walk, or maybe it’s giving yourself 5 minutes to appreciate the moment. This gratitude practice can be done anytime, anywhere and can also be used as a grounding technique to reduce anxiety. So, whatever it is, wherever you are, stop to smell the roses. There is so much to be grateful for when you are willing to take a look. Plus, practicing gratitude is scientifically proven to improve anxiety and depression.
3. Make a conscious effort to change your mindset
We all have negative thoughts – it’s part of having a mental illness. However, that doesn’t mean that these negative thoughts have to, nor should they, completely consume you. A huge part of cognitive therapy is recognizing when you have negative thoughts, and changing them. So, when you find yourself in a rut with a mind racing full of self-doubt and negativity, make a conscious effort to change it to be more positive.
“I’m going to fail this test.” – “I’ve studied hard and I’m going to do my very best.” “I suck.” – “I may not be good at this particular thing, but I’ll give it a shot!” “Nobody likes me.” – “Those people don’t understand me and I’m okay with that.” “I’m ugly.” – “I’m beautiful.”
You don’t even have to believe what you’re saying at first, because at one point, you will. It’s the power of practicing gratitude. As you change your mindset, you are essentially training your brain to process things more positively and it eventually comes naturally.
4. Do something you enjoy
It doesn’t matter what it is that you like to do for fun, do it. Dedicate time to do something that makes you happy. Perhaps it’s reading or playing Solitaire Bliss, singing, listening to music, dancing, going for a walk or simply being outdoors. Whatever it is, do it. You deserve to do something you enjoy after working so hard to simply get through the day.
5. Wake up with affirmations
Every morning, wake up and repeat some positive affirmations or mantras. Reciting an empowering word or sentence can put you in the right mindset to tackle the day. Mantras essentially convince you that whatever it is that you’re repeating is true. It’s tricking the brain into thinking more positively, instead of the brain tricking you into having a miserable mood and/or day.
6. Go for a 15 minute walk
Every day – rain or shine – get outdoors for a minimum of 15 minutes, preferably while taking a walk. The aromas of the world can have a powerful effect on your mind, and simply getting a breath of fresh air and physical activity in can boost your inner happiness.
Tip: Instead of just walking, try mindfulness walking. focus on the way your weight and balance shifts from one foot to the other with every step; pay attention to the sounds you hear and think about where they’re coming from; smell the roses; feel the sensations in your body as your muscles work, etc.
7. Let go of resentment and learn to forgive
Forgiveness is no easy feat. It might be the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do throughout your life, but it needs to be done. Holding on to built-up anger and resentment is like placing two massive mountains in your pathway towards happiness. You may be able to get over them, but it’ll be one painfully long process. So, you have to learn how to let go of the things and people in the past because they are only keeping you in that moment.
Remember, you are forgiving them for you, not for them. Forgiveness does not mean that you have to let them in your life. In fact, it means that you can finally let them go. I personally love our therapy notepads for this!
8. Strive for progress, not perfection
Perfection isn’t fun, nor is it realistic. So, eliminate that word from your vocabulary and replace it with ‘progress’ because it will give you something to feel accomplished about every single day.
If your feet hit the ground in the morning, that’s progress. Every time you wake up, it’s progress – yes, even if you have a panic attack, a bad day or feel completely destroyed by the end of it. You woke up, you survived, and you’re one step closer to overcoming these demons.
So, striving for progress instead of perfection is one of the best happy habits to add into your life. It reminds you of the amazing things you can do, even if it’s simply getting out of bed in the morning.
9. Keep yourself busy, but don’t rush
Some of the best happy habits are the ones that will keep you distracted without completely taking you away from reality. In other words, it’s good to be busy and to have a purpose that needs to be fulfilled each day.
However, it’s just as important to give yourself enough time to be busy. It’s self care, baby!
Don’t rush through your tasks or set up a schedule that will be completely overwhelming. Wake up an hour earlier if you have to and cancel your plans with your friends on Friday if you need to. Be busy but give yourself time to be free.
10. Become one with your own thoughts
It seems everywhere you look, someone’s talking about meditation, but don’t skip over this happy habit just yet. Meditation is scientifically proven to improve mental illnesses and can even reduce anxiety by up to 50%. So, even if you despise the idea of meditation, give it a try.
Meditation trains your brain to see things more clearly and positively. It teaches you how to become aware of the things surrounding you, while also teaching you how to avoid letting the little things affect you.
11. Get rid of toxic relationships
We saved this happy habit for the end because it’s truly the most powerful one. No matter how hard it may be to eliminate toxic relationships and people from your life, it is an absolute must if you want to achieve ultimate happiness.
Just think about it, how can you achieve happiness when you’re surrounded by people who repel it? Wanting to find happiness while maintaining unhealthy relationships is like wanting to lose weight but surrounding yourself with cupcakes. It might happen, but it’ll be one heck of a process.
If a relationship doesn’t make you happy, let it go.
Choosing to incorporate healthy, happy habits into your daily life can make a drastic impact on your overall mental health and wellness . While there’s no denying that having a mental illness can affect your happiness, you still have some control over how much you let it take over your mental state and mood. These happy habits probably won’t cure your anxiety or depression either, just as medication won’t. There needs to be a bit of inner work, which is where anxiety therapy comes into play, but this is an excellent place to start!