Life is hard. You don’t need me to tell you that. But what you may not know is how much harder you’re actually making it for yourself. It’s true. In fact, if you want to be happy, new research says that the number one thing you should stop doing immediately is trying so darn hard. And that’s just the beginning.
It turns out there are tons of things you’re doing on daily basis that are holding you back from living the stress-free, totally relaxed, and wildly happy life of your dreams. So read on, drop these terrible habits like third-period French, and enjoy yourself! And for more amazing advice for making the most of your days, check out the 20 Genius Ways to Be Less Lazy.
Not talking to yourself.
Okay, so we’re not talking about jabbering to yourself in public. (And we certainly have no problem with a good affirmation to yourself every once in a while.) We’re talking about journaling, which has amazing benefits.
According to Carrie Aulenbacher: “It may feel selfish, but a daily journal entry can be an easy way to amp up happiness and de-stress. Whether on paper or by using a digital method, writing to yourself can help you connect, reflect, and ponder what’s going on so that you can clear your mind and honor your journey.” It’s also just a great way to clear your hand and check in with yourself. And for more great life hacks, check out these 15 Genius Ways to Appear More Attractive.
Always scrambling to find the shortest checkout line.
Did you know that researchers actually spend a huge amount of time and resources to find out which checkout lines are faster? It’s true. Some argue that single lines with multiple cashiers move the fastest. Others argue that cashiers with their own lines move the fastest. And some researchers even suggest looking for female cashiers instead of male. So, what’s the answer?
There isn’t one! Who cares?! Ease your mind, get in line, and take deep breaths. In the grand scheme of things, an extra three minutes in line nothing to stress about. And for more on fighting stress, here are 20 Ways Social Media Stress Us Out.
Wearing dark colors all the time.
Dr. Sal Raichbach of the Ambrosia Treatment Center has found that there are “happy and sad colors.” And sure, while they might be slimming, colors like black, navy, or purple are show to actually increase depression. Orange, meanwhile, is said to promote optimism. But whatever you do, always avoid the 40 Worst Clothes for Men Over 40.
Manually managing your utilities.
If you’re constantly managing your thermostat and turning lights on and off, you’re doing the job of a robot that can actually be saving you money. Connected devices like a smart thermostat can improve your utility efficiency by over 20%—to say nothing of the stress you’ll save. (Plus, you can control these things from anywhere using your smartphone.) Stop getting out of bed to adjust the temperature! And for more money saving advice, read up on 52 Ways to Be Smarter with Money in 2018.
Paying full price.
If it feels to you like the money you spend on your “essentials” just goes up and up every single month, you’re not alone. In fact, one study showed that 56% of workers are over their heads in debt. Thankfully, today there are quite a few ways to take back your finances. You can spend significantly less money while still meeting all your needs by using apps and services like iBotta and Promocodes.com. Also, be sure to know the 30 Ways to Never Pay Full Price for Clothes Ever Again.
Not batch cooking.
Home-cooked meals are almost always healthier, fulfilling, and easier on your wallet. Ugh, but they take so much time! After a long day at work, no one is thinking, “Oh I can’t wait to slave away in the kitchen!”
Enter batch cooking. Life coach Tracy Timm says: “This is especially useful if you’re a bachelor/ette and not a picky eater. If you can batch all your meals and cook them on, say, Sunday night, then you have more time during the week (and you save money!).” Consider starting with the 40 Dishes Everyone Over 40 Should Master.
Not being selfish enough.
OK, so when was the last time you did something for you? Author and professional women’s counselor Heidi McBain suggests that taking a little time each day for yourself is a small thing with huge returns. Maybe that’s journaling, meditating, and or hitting the gym. Whatever it is, do it for you and you alone. And fore more great advice, know the 25 Life Lessons You Learned As a Kid That Are Wildly Outdated Today.
Drinking caffeinated beverages after 5pm.
We could all probably stand to benefit from taking a hard look at our caffeine intake. But regardless of your dependency on the stuff, there are some times during the day that the costs outweigh the benefits. Pat Mills from Making Nice Coffee recommends avoiding caffeine after 5pm. “Caffeine late in the day interferes with your sleep,” she says. “Even if you can get to sleep, you are drowsy and irritable the next morning.” And if you scared you’re a caffeine addict, Here’s Exactly How Much Caffeine You Need to Drink to Overdose.
Not saying “no.”
If you’re a yes person, you’re constantly subjecting yourself to a life of over-promising, over-booking, and under-performing. Don’t be afraid to be realistic with your friends, family, and coworkers. The simple phrase, “Sorry, I won’t be able to do that,” can go a long way.
If you have a hard time letting go of your full calendar, start out by designating optional events. This will allow you to “toggle your ‘optional’ calendar off” when stress runs high.
Trying to multitask.
Who has the brain power anyway? Interestingly, some scientists believe that certain types of multitasking is actually cognitively impossible. Life and career coach Carolyn Birsky states, “Many people often boast about how they are good multitaskers, but multitasking can actually make it more difficult for your brain to focus on a specific activity and therefore you are less efficient and precise. It’s better to block out chunks of time for each activity you’re trying to complete (ex. 20 minutes to respond to emails, 20 minutes to return phone calls, etc.) than to attempt to do multiple types of activities at once.”
So stop it! And for more great advice, read up on the 30 Genius Tricks That Will Make Your Life Easier.
Not having a set sleep schedule.
Fact: erratic sleep patterns just confuse our minds and bodies—and probably our coworkers, too. By going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, can improve your day in huge ways. Sleep scientists say adults should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Avoid sleeping in (yes, even on Saturdays and Sundays) to keep your body clock in sync. And for some fun facts about your slumber, here are the 30 Weirdest Things You Do in Your Sleep.
While it might seem old news, that snooze button should be seen as one of your biggest enemies. While that extra 10, 20, 30 minutes in bed might seem so important in the moment, your inconsistency is throwing your body off. If you’re someone who always needs an extra 20 minutes of sleep, just move your alarm back 20 minutes.
According to life and business coach Queirra Fenderson: “We stress ourselves out more than necessary when we complain about what we don’t like instead of figuring out what would make the situation better.” Remember: Negativity is toxic, so try to create as little of it as you can. Instead, try these 70 Genius Tricks to Boost Your Confidence.
Using your credit card for shopping.
The points and cashback benefits are hard to pass up. But as the paper and coins go away, so does the feeling of loss. When we don’t use physical money for our transactions, the expense become far less tangible.
Here’s some sobering stats: McDonald’s reports that the average customer with a credit card spends $7, opposed to their cash-wielding counterparts who average $4.50.
Shopping on an empty stomach.
Little good comes from shopping while hungry. Other shoppers will annoy you more, you’ll buy way more than you would have otherwise, and the food you buy is likely to be more fattening and unhealthy. (Yes, you’re likely to complain, as well.)
I’m not just talking about grocery shopping, either. A recent study found that hunger led people to buy more office supplies—and hungry department store shoppers actually spent more and bought more non-food items than non-hungry shoppers.
Not exercising at least 30 minutes per day.
The Mayo Clinic recommends getting 30 minutes of exercise per day. The research supporting its mental and physical health benefits are seemingly endless. And it doesn’t take long to recognize how much better you generally feel on active days than on sluggish ones.
Interestingly, your choice of activity doesn’t have to be as intense as you might think. Even piecing together three 10-minute walks is enough. A healthy exercise routine will decrease your risk of diabetes and premature death, improve your memory, and even alleviate symptoms of depression.
Not loving yourself.
You might think that low self-image doesn’t affect anyone but yourself. But research shows that your feelings about yourself can have lasting effects on your relationships with others as well.
Psychology Today reports that “people with low self-esteem tend to underestimate their partner’s love,” and they misinterpret “benign acts as hostile and rejecting”. It would be naïve and insensitive to say that you can change the way you see yourself with the flip of a switch, but consider starting with the 10 Ways to Feel Better About Your Body After 40.
Refusing to grow.
My dad once told me, “Green things grow, ripe things rot.” It might seem like one of those things you’d hear in Sunday school, but looking for opportunities to expand your skills and understanding (within reason, of course) will make your life more fulfilling.
The day you stop learning is the day your potential plateaus. Being well-seasoned is good, but well-seasoned and still going is better. Take criticism like a champ and learn from it. One of the most important things that prospective employers look for is teachability. Being more “green” will help you bounce back from setbacks, and to gracefully handle stress.
Not living intentionally.
Do you ever feel like you’re just being dragged along by some invisible puppet master? It’s like things just get moving so quickly that you’re more of a spectator in your own life. If that sounds like you, it’s time to stop letting life happen to you, and start making it happen for you.
It all starts when you get up in the morning. To get the most out of each day, mindful wellness coach Ruth Kent advises you give yourself an intentional purpose, “usually around how you choose to approach the day. You can set an intention for the whole day, as well as for the individual activities you do in the day. This gives you more focus and drive, as well as a sense of fulfillment and meaning as each activity closes.”
Living with expectations.
Expectations shouldn’t be confused with goals. “Freeing yourself from expectations gives you more joy, more connection, and more happiness,” says wellness expert Ruth Kent.
Remember: Making plans is important to building productivity, but we shouldn’t let productivity get in the way of our personal well-being.
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