Lifestyle changes to up the smile factor

Ever see people passing by with a smile on their face and a spring in their step, and think to yourself, ‘I wish that were me’? The truth is, feeling content, happy and present in everything you do might seem like it requires a number of things to align all at once with a huge dose of luck thrown in - but nothing could be further from the truth.

True happiness in your day-to-day can be created with some simple lifestyle choices - and if you get on top of them, it’s more likely that everything else will fall into place, too.

1 Exercise regularly

Regular gym-goers can be guilty of taking for granted exercise’s profound effects on mood. But a few busy days forcing you away from your favourite fitness studio can soon remind you just how much you need exercise in your life, and have come to rely on it to keep your mental health in check.

Working out gives you immediate benefits in the form of that endorphin rush - those happy hormones that have you feeling high on life following your session; no matter how tough, gruelling or even torturous it seemed at the time. In the long run, regular exercise gives you drive, keeps you focused and ensures that feel-good factor stays topped up.

2 Take your sleep seriously

‘Waking up on the wrong side of the bed’ is a commonly used expression for good reason. Getting a bad night’s sleep can seriously affect your mood the next day, leaving you cranky, snappy and short-fused - so it’s no wonder the quality and quantity of your sleep in the long-term can also have a huge impact on your general happiness.

From low levels of energy to unhealthy cravings, a lack of sleep negatively affects your lifestyle, robbing you of your well-deserved happiness. Make sleep a priority in your life: aim for eight hours’ kip each night, invest in some blackout blinds and pop in a pair of earplugs too if you’re easily woken. Your mental health will thank you.

3 Don’t pig out on junk food

When we’ve had a bad day or we’re going through tough times, it’s tempting to comfort eat. Ben & Jerry’s, Dairy Milk and Haribo in bed while watching a terrible movie sound familiar? We’ve all been there.

While these sugary, processed foods illicit a dopamine response in the short-term, when that sugar high wears off, we’re left feeling down, sluggish and likely quite guilty about falling off the health wagon we’ve worked so hard to stay on board. Keeping refined sugars to a minimum and instead reaching for whole fruits to curb our sweet cravings will ensure a steady blood sugar level throughout the day and an all-round good feeling for the long haul.

4 Get that fresh air fix

Okay, the British weather might not be the best, but don’t let that be your excuse for staying cooped up indoors all day. For those of us who are non-stop throughout the week, it’s easy to have lazy duvet days come the weekend where the most movement we engage in is reaching for the remote.

But getting outside, breathing in that good air and soaking up those sun rays (you have to look extra hard for them on those gloomier days, granted!) will work wonders for your mood. While simply moving about will help to get your blood flowing, it’s also important we try to get that dose of vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, to ward off the blues whenever we can. Whether it’s a park workout or just a walk to the shops, it counts.

5 Surround yourself with positivity

It might sound simple, but being around people who are constantly negative, complaining and drab can be incredibly draining - you don’t need that in your life! While it’s easy to get sucked into negativity when it surrounds you, luckily the same is true for positivity.

As well as clearing your diary to spend some time with your perkiest pals, be aware of the impact social media can have on your emotions too - unfollow those accounts that make you feel bad about yourself, whether they are celebrity accounts that give you an unrealistic view on life or it’s that ex-partner who has remained on your feed for far too long. Instead, find some accounts that inspire, encourage and uplift you. It’ll make all the difference.


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