How happy are we here in the UK? According to the Office for National Statistics, 10.3-million people in the UK reported high levels of anxiety last year. Admittedly, that figure is a decline from the previous year’s numbers. But it’s still startling, especially when you consider how all-encompassing anxiety is.
I’m absolutely certain that if pharmaceutical companies could bottle happiness and sell it, the price tag would be astronomical. I feel as though we’re fortunate that pharmaceutical companies can’t do this for more than just the potential costs involved. We all have the power to control our own happiness, even if it doesn’t feel that way at times. Being able to control our happiness is, in itself, empowering.
Many individuals who suffer from anxiety also struggle with insomnia. Up to 36% of people who suffer from insomnia report suffering from anxiety. It doesn’t take much more than common sense to see that a good night’s sleep could make tackling life’s woes much easier. And with that thought, I want to explore some of the ways you can end your day to work towards true happiness and hopefully snooze a little better.
Write a thank-you list to yourself
Most of us will feel as though we’re taken for granted at least a handful of times a week. The thought may be fleeting, or we may reflect on it until we can’t see the occasions where others did thank us or show gratitude.
Relying too heavily on others for thanks can make our state of wellbeing dependant on the population at large. One way to avoid this is to write a little thank-you list to yourself at the end of each day. You could thank yourself for exercising, making nice food, or giving yourself some me-time to watch a movie. You can also thank yourself for the tasks where you feel others should show gratitude. You’re kind of an important person in your own life, so your own thanks should mean a lot.
Switch self-pity for learning experiences
Entering a perennial victim mentality rarely contributes towards building a brighter and stronger future. Although it’s permissible (in fact, human) to enter self-pity mode occasionally, remaining in that state day in day out doesn’t allow your circumstances to change.
If it feels as though something (or everything) isn’t going as well as you would like, give yourself a few minutes to feel pitiful. Then, remind yourself of your own strength. Finally, ask yourself what you’re learning from the situation.
One of my personal experiences with this came when I was pursuing a degree that left me staring down the barrel of a career I hated. I really pursued martyrdom at this point in my life. I was also pining for my former career in aviation. Had I reflected on the problem fully, I would’ve given myself permission to abandon the degree and start flying a little sooner…but, as I am hoping you can see, moaning about that too much right now also pushes me into self-pity mode.
If you don’t really agree with me that remaining in self-pity mode is a bad way to end your day, maybe this Stephen Fry clip will convince you:
Stop treating your body badly
As anyone who knows me well would be fast to tell you, I love ending my day with a glass of wine. At the same time, I recognise that this isn’t the best way to end your day. Not even by a long shot.
Wine (or any nighttime tipple) disrupts the neurotransmitters that are responsible for helping you sleep. As a result, the sleep you enjoy probably won’t feel as refreshing as the one you experience sans-booze. If you routinely end your day with a few alcoholic units, you’re setting yourself up for an existence of mental fogginess.
Similarly, failing to get enough sleep, binge eating, and spending your last few waking minutes browsing social media aren’t conducive to happiness. If these are the types of itches you love to scratch every evening, consider switching them for herbal tea, reading a book, and meditation. Do I sound pious? I’m sure I do. That doesn’t mean I am wrong, though.
Reflect on the progress you made today
We all make progress each day, but we may not always recognise it. Throughout the day, it’s a good idea to try and challenge yourself slightly. Without consistent challenges, you’re unlikely to grow and develop as a person. If you’re a freelance copywriter, this could mean increasing your earnings target slightly, pitching to a new client, or trying a different approach to blogging.
At the end of each day, reflect positively on the progress you have made. This is why trying to challenge yourself in new ways is important. If you don’t succeed, you’ve at least developed your aptitude, and that is progress in itself.
Dedicate a few minutes to meditating
Like the author of 10% Happier (Dan Harris), I was always a little sceptical about meditation. After trying it, I found that it does have a measurable impact on my overall happiness levels. For example:
- I tend to sleep better when I meditate in the last few moments of my day.
- I spend less time getting angry about small matters (mainly other road users).
- I’m able to contextualise problems rather than worry about them.
Science backs the use of meditation, too. Hundreds of studies have covered the topic. They show benefits ranging from reduced stress and lower blood pressure to a thicker brain and positive changes in the amygdala (that’s where you process your emotions). So before you knock it, please do try it.
I won’t guarantee that you’ll end every day feeling 100% happy. But if you can tweak your bedtime routine rather than lurking on Facebook or dropping your clients a few emails, I can guarantee you’ll experience positive changes.