Healthy habits for happiness

Five unconventional habits for a healthier, happier you!

Dr. Kimberley O'BrienHealth, Lifestyle, Mind Body, Psychology 2 Comments

When you think about improving your health, perhaps your thoughts drift to snacking on kale and sipping on green smoothies.  But how often do you reflect on how your mood and stress levels are affecting your health?

Often we are so busy checking-off the items on our to-do list that we end up working on overdrive and feeling stuck in “survival mode”.  We can become so focused on accomplishing tasks and “jumping through hoops” that we forget about taking the time for the little things that make us happy.  We lose track of what really matters and might even distance ourself from social interaction and fun.

By incorporating the following simple (and often overlooked) habits into your daily routine you will not only improve your mood and decrease your stress, but also live a happier, healthier life! 

1. Give genuine compliments

While it feels great to receive a compliment, often it feels even better to be on the delivering end.  Knowing that you made someone else’s day a little brighter and more joyful will bring a smile to your face through the rest of your day.  Happy people generally experience less stress, which means that you are not only improving your own health by paying a compliment but also helping boost the health and happiness of the receiver of your praise.  It doesn’t get much better than that!

Next time you are in the grocery store line-up, put away your phone or magazine and take a look at the people in line next to you. Don’t be afraid to reach out and give a compliment to a stranger!  How great do you feel when someone tells you they love your earrings or hairstyle?  This is your turn to do the same!  Just make sure that your compliment is genuine and from the heart.  We are social by nature and this is a great chance to connect and light up someone else’s day.

2. Get outside

Get outside

If you park your vehicle indoors at home and at work, there can be days when you may not even step foot outdoors.  This can be especially true as we head into another winter.  Whether or not you consider yourself a “nature-lover”, getting outside presents numerous benefits for both your mental and physical health. Whether your natural escape is in the mountains, a city park or your backyard, find a place where you can connect to a greater source of inspiration and peace.  If you have time for a vacation, don’t go to a city.  Instead go to a natural area where you can recharge and relax away from the stressors and hustle bustle of city life.

Instead of waiting for vacation, make sure to get outside daily if possible.  This can be as simple as going for 15 minute walk.  At work, how do you typically spend your lunch break?  Do you eat at your desk while you continue to answer the phone and plug away at your work?  This is a great opportunity to get out of the building!  Use your lunch hour to go for a walk and focus on breathing deeply.  Take in the sights and sounds around you, smile at others as they walk by and enjoy some fresh air.  Getting outside for a walk will provide both physical and mental renewal before finishing your day at work and is an easy way to incorporate a bit of nature into your everyday routine.

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3. Say “no” more often

Is your schedule packed with errands, chores and responding to other peoples agendas?  Maybe you feel like every time you turn around someone is waiting there to request your help.  Your boss needs you to work the weekend, the school needs volunteers for the upcoming field trip, a coworker want you to help them complete their project by it’s deadline and you have a friend that calls you every day to vent about her relationship.  Learning to say “no” is something that you might struggle with but that will help you to live your life with greater intention, purpose and focus.  Although you may feel obligated to fulfill everyone else’s expectations, this can leave you feeling exhausted and as though you are governing your life based upon someone else’s agenda. By saying “no” more often you leave more room in your life for new opportunities and experiences that really light you up inside.   

Saying “no” more often alleviates stress and leaves you with more time to feed your body, mind and soul with activities that you truly enjoy.  You need to say no to the good things in your life so that you have room to say yes to the great!

4. Focus on what you are grateful for

Gratitude creates a mindset of abundance.  When you practice gratitude you shift your focus to all of the elements that are rich and positive in your life. 

Try this brief exercise and you will see the benefits for yourself:

Grab a pen and paper and list at least ten things in your life that you are grateful for. 

Perhaps you are thankful for your dog, who greets you so energetically when you get home from work. 

Maybe you are grateful for the healthy food that you ate for dinner last night or for having a comfortable home that provides you with a safe place to sleep every night. 

List whatever comes to your mind first, big or small. 

Read over your list and focus on feeling grateful for the people, things and experiences that you have listed. Do you notice a shift to feeling happier and more positive?

Gratitude shifts our perspective from focusing on that which we perceive to be lacking in our lives to that which is rich and abundant. By focusing on gratitude you will find that your mood improves and that you will feel a release of stress.  By shifting your focus to gratitude and abundance you will draw even more things into your life to be grateful for via the law of attraction.  It’s a win-win approach!

5. Set an intention for your day

Set an intention

This can be one of the most powerful practices to get into the habit of doing daily.  Prior to checking your email in the morning or launching yourself into work mode, take the time to set an intention for the day.  Make yourself a cup of tea and find a quiet place to reflect for 5-10 minutes.  Think about your day ahead, the people you will be interacting with and the tasks that you are looking to accomplish.  Note what feelings arise as you contemplate your day.  Are you feeling positive and excited or stressed and anxious?  If you are experiencing negative emotions, think about how you would like to feel about your day instead.  Visualize and focus on how you might experience your day differently if you place an intention on experiencing that positive emotion in every interaction and task you participate in today.

For example, maybe you are thinking that you have to submit a proposal at work, have a meeting with demanding clients, and need to run errands when you are finished your 9-5.  This might leave you feeling drained and stressed out before your day even begins.  So let’s shift your focus.  You might set an intention to feel relaxed and calm throughout the day. To manifest that intention you might focus on deep breathing before your meeting, going for a walk at lunch and taking a bath when you are home from your day.  Maybe instead you want to feel excited and joyful throughout your day or intend to focus on service and helping others have a better day themselves. Choose what resonates with you and get in the habit of consciously deciding who you want to be and how you will show up in the world every day.

By practicing these five strategies daily  you will experience more joy, intention and purpose in your life…all of which leads to a healthier, happier you!

Now it’s your turn! What practices help you to de-stress, improve your mood and bring more consciousness to your day?  Where do you struggle?  Please share in the comments section below!

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About the Author

Dr. Kimberley O'Brien


Dr. Kimberley O'Brien is a Naturopathic Doctor in  Nelson, BC with expertise in the treatment of digestive disorders, fatigue and hormone imbalances.  She is the founder of Healthy Life Redesign and creator of the Elimination Diet Meal Plan and the Real Food Recharge online programs.  Her mission is to help you own your health and live a life you love!

Comments 2

  1. Thanks Dr Kimberley! This was a nice study break that reminded me to take five minutes to de-stress. My other go to is a happy song on he train or bus to drown out the people noise, kind of my version of public meditation 🙂

    1. Post

      Thanks for your comment Niki! I’m glad reading the article allowed you to take a few moments to de-stress. And I love that you use music on the train for “public meditation”. That’s a great way to think about it 😉

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