Going vegan isn’t the only major life change you can make during January. Katy Beskow looks at ways to be happier this year.
New Year’s resolutions may come and go – most fly straight out of the window within a few days, but sustainable life changes can lead to a much more positive outlook. Let’s take a look at some steps you can take to become a happier version of yourself in 2020 – and beyond.
Break it up
Instead of making ambiguous New Year’s resolutions, block out some time at the start of every month to make a to-do list of how you will work towards a goal.
By breaking down large goals into to-do lists, you will be able to achieve your goal in a logical and practical way. Think about making each day count, even small steps each day will lead you closer to your overall goal.
Exercise and movement are great for releasing those happy hormones, but that doesn’t mean you have to subscribe to a costly gym membership! Walking is a free and easy way to move more, and can be achieved in a city or the countryside, no matter your fitness ability.
If time is of the essence, download a fitness app that will guide you through short bursts of exercise, when it’s convenient for you. Maybe you prefer the morale and support of being in group exercise programmes, so check out your local leisure centre or outdoor park fitness sessions.
Even the most sociable of people need some time alone, to recharge, reconnect and reflect. Whether you love the idea of a long bubble bath, finishing a chapter of a book, or simply having a mug of tea at the supermarket café, make yourself a priority at least twice a week.
It’s a good idea to schedule in some ‘me time’ in your weekly routine, rather than just squeezing it in where you can. There’s no need to feel guilty about taking time out for yourself, it’s what helps you to become the best version of you!
Smile and have fun
Within the stresses and strains of modern life, it can be easy to forget to just have fun. Make time for spending time with positive family and friends, doing something you enjoy, or even running around like a child in a park!
Switch up your Netflix documentary for some guaranteed-laugh comedy for a sure way to laugh your way into everyday happiness. Life can become too serious – smile more and look for fun in the everyday routine. You’ll feel more present in the moment too, with a more positive outlook.
We all know that sharing updates across social media can be fun, but mindless scrolling through celebrity and influencer posts can often lead to feeling unsatisfied with our lives, a sense of missing out, or wanting more than we could possibly need.
This year, consider reducing the time you spend on social media. Many platforms have a time alarm, so you will be alerted to when you have spent your set amount of time on social media.
Deleting the apps from your smartphone also helps to reduce mindless scrolling, so you actively log on to the social media with purpose, when you want to, not just because you are bored.
Eat right (most of the time)
Prepare and eat balanced meals on a daily basis, to maintain energy levels, nutrition and a sense of wellbeing. Always remember that food isn’t just about good nutrition, but also the enjoyment, soul and social aspect too, so a few cheeky treats along the way is never a bad idea! With the availability of vegan meals at mainstream restaurants at an all-time high, why not plan a lovely meal out with friends?
Do something for others
Helping others can often lead to our own happiness, as it feels good to do something for someone else, or the community. Do remember that doing something for others doesn’t have to mean a contracted commitment, but if you do fancy something long term, check out volunteer roles at your local animal shelter, charity shop, or befriending service.
Smaller acts of kindness include checking-in on an elderly neighbour or relative, complimenting a stranger, walking a friend’s dog, or helping out at a community garden. There’s something to fit everyone’s lifestyle, no matter how busy we are.
Being ‘perfect’ doesn’t make us happier. Mistakes are a part of life, but happiness can come from how we manage these mistakes, reflect and learn from them. Growing as individuals (no matter our age) helps us to accept who we are, and how we can adapt to many situations in life.
We can never know or experience everything, but wisdom comes from living life and making a few mistakes along the way, but most importantly knowing what we’ve learnt with a sense of self-acceptance. Who wants to be perfect anyway?
Slow living is a term that many of us dismiss, because our lives may seem too busy with studies, children and/or busy jobs, but the essence of slow living is about purposefully finding time to reduce the pace, to reduce unnecessary stress, and find some meaning in everyday life. Practical ways to incorporate slow living into our routines include cooking from scratch a few times per week (instead of microwaving that vegan ready meal), bathing instead of showing (get up a few minutes earlier to fully appreciate it), and saying “no” to some social events so you can prioritise yourself (the joy of missing out!). Define what is important in your life, and slow down to enjoy those things.
Be kind to yourself
We often give positive advice to our friends and family, while telling them not to speak negatively about themselves. But do we then practice what we have preached?
It can be all too easy to bring yourself down, or be harsher to yourself than you ever would be to others; so next time you have a negative thought about yourself, challenge it and imagine what you would say to a friend who voiced it. Redefine your relationship with yourself, and focus on happiness.
About the author
Katy Beskow is a cook, food writer and cookery tutor with a passion for good food. You’ll find her creating new recipes for her blog, demonstrating at food festivals, writing for magazines and teaching modern vegan cooking- so if you need her, she’ll be in the kitchen! Food is her number one love and she hopes to change the general perception of vegan food, by showcasing what is possible with seasonal and fresh foods. Katy now lives in Yorkshire and cooks in her tiny, yet fully functional kitchen! Find Katy on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. www.katybeskow.com.