Being a grown up is hard, and it’s something your parents tell you all through your childhood when you demand to be treated like one.

When you are little and you feel like you have so many restrictions, you think that adults just have it all. We get to stay up late, we don’t have people telling us what to do and we can eat what we want. I guess now we can laugh with our parents when we hear kids saying the same things.

It is a wonderful concept, having control of our lives. We determine our actions or inactions, and it’s the benefit of all our growing pains. The difficult part about taking actions is discovering what actions to take that will benefit your overall health and happiness. If you keep these ideas in mind throughout the year, 2017 will be happy and healthy.

  1. Want to be happy

The first step to achieving anything is a proclamation of your needs. You may think it is easier said than done, but it really isn’t. Sometimes all you need to do is pause for a self-affirmation to remind you that you want to be happy. Even for those who suffer from depression or anxiety, that action can be an immensely helpful tactic. It is not a cure, but it is the first step towards your happiness.

  1. Forgive yourself

We are our own worst critics. When we make a mistake, it is on replay in the back of our minds for what seems like an eternity. Instead of flagellating yourself, take stock of what happened and learn from it.

Get a journal and write it down if you want. To err is part of the human condition, but we grow from our mistakes and become stronger because of them. When you can learn to forgive yourself, it opens you to learn to forgive others as well.

  1. Make time for others

Our lives become so busy that we push things off. You get into a routine and your days tend to blend together. Next thing you know, one day becomes a week and then a month.

Making time can be as easy as a phone call, but getting face time is even better. Making time for that person could brighten their day, which in turn would do the same for you.

  1. Go to bed

Just because as a child we wanted to stay up all night, it doesn’t mean we should. Unless your schedule necessitates it, going to bed at a decent hour really isn’t a bad idea.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, as adults, we need 7-9 hours of sleep for optimal health benefits. If you don’t get enough sleep, it can have some physical and emotional repercussions. Comprising and holding onto memory is more difficult when you are tired. Which will interfere with day to day activities. It will affect your mood, making you more stressed. Due to grogginess, your reaction time will be hindered. You will feel and react as if you are drunk. Your skin could break down collagen and start to wrinkle early, hence the term “beauty sleep.” You could develop high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease. You would feel hungrier because your satiety indicators will be impeded. Also, your immune system becomes compromised leaving you vulnerable to infections.

If you put all that aside, there’s only one thing to really consider here…SLEEP FEELS GOOD! Naps are nice; waking up refreshed, there’s just nothing like it.

  1. Don’t skip meals

Nutrition is a key component to maintaining health, but it will not be very helpful if you’re not consuming regularly. If you are missing meals, you could experience a fluctuation in blood pressure. This might cause your mood to shift, causing you to be more stressed, irritable, or unable to concentrate.

Being “hangry” is no fun. If you regularly skip meals or keep an irregular meal schedule, it could potentially lead to depression.  Per NCHPAD, the optimal time frame between meals is 3 to 4 hours.

  1. Exercise

There are so many great benefits to exercising regularly. Just the act of exercising releases endorphins and dopamine which promote energy and happiness in the brain. If it’s regular, the exercise doesn’t have to be elaborate. You can get up and go for a walk or get a good pair of shoes and join a group at the gym.

  1. Laugh    

Have you heard the phrase “laughter is the best medicine?” According to the Mayo Clinic, it really is. It isn’t a cure-all, but it sure helps improve functions. The action of laughter causes you to take in more oxygen-rich air. This extra oxygen stimulates your organs. As with exercising, the intake also stimulates the release of endorphins and dopamine.

  1. Try something new

Breaking routine can be stressful, but it can be exhilarating too. You really want to keep on coming home to your sweatpants and Netflix marathons, but what about that cooking class you’ve been wanting to take? Taking that class will feel great, but will you go out again? If you keep on trying new things, your brain will adapt to being open to new things.

  1. Go to the doctor

To maintain good health and wellness, you need to make your regular visits to your doctor. The CDC says that if you do, you will discover potential issues before they become problems. If you know where you stand medically, then you can breathe easy knowing where you stand.

  1. Pause and breathe

Sometimes stress is unavoidable. You have deadlines and responsibilities, but it can be overwhelming. When you feel your chest get tight from stress, close your eyes and take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. It may not seem like much, but even just the short pause can allow you to step away from the situation long enough to clear your mind.

  1. Find the silver lining

No matter how bad a situation seems, there is something good. Whether you have learned something new, are still breathing, made a friend or did not have anything worse happen you benefitted. If you look on the bright side of things, it will be hard for there to be darkness.

And there are 11 simple ways that you can increase your happiness and health in the year of 2017 (and hopefully all the years to follow!).

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