14 little things that will improve your happiness
Time is precious, so make the most of every minute to become fitter and happier.
And you don't even need to block out a huge amount of time to do it - all you need is a couple of minutes here and there.
Here are easy ways to usefully improve your wellness while you’re making a cup of tea or waiting for the microwave to ping.
1. Work your muscles
Dr Luke Powles of Bupa Health Clinics says, “It takes about a minute for a kettle to boil, so spend 30 seconds performing calf raises (rising on to tippy-toes and back down) and the remaining 30 seconds doing a wall sit.”
To do this, press your back flat against a wall and lower your body by bending your knees to an angle of 45 to 90 degrees.
2. Sing along to the radio
University of Manchester scientists found the sacculus, a tiny organ in the inner ear, connects to the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that registers pleasure.
When you sing, the sacculus detects small vibrations that send signals to the hypothalamus, giving an instant happiness hit.
3. Spell words backwards
Doing this in your head forces your brain to think hard and use your working memory, says brain surgeon and neuroscientist Dr Rahul Jandial.
Another way to boost working memory is to multiply two-digit numbers, such as 29 and 72, in your head.
These are fundamental skills that get better with practice, he says.
4. Drink water
A mere two per cent drop in the body’s water content can impair mental functioning, cause changes in mood and reductions in concentration, alertness and short-term memory, say researchers.
A study published in US journal Physiology & Behaviour found drivers who are not properly hydrated make the same number of errors as those who are over the drink-drive limit.
5. Declutter your handbag
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Anything weighing more than 1.3kgs puts pressure on your back, so take a minute to get rid of all the old make-up, receipts and loose change that litter your bag.
6. Correct your posture
“Stand up straight, grind your feet into the floor and gently pull your stomach muscles in to lengthen your spine,” says former national ballet dancer Natalie Garry.
“Your head should be raised high, but moving freely, not tense, and your shoulders should be relaxed.
"As you continue with your day, that core stability protects your back and improves your posture.”
7. Stand on one leg
Yoga expert Kat Farrants says, “The instability improves balance.
“Progress to leg strengthening by taking the lifted leg out to the side and performing small pulses up and down to strengthen weak hips and glutes (buttock muscles).
“Then repeat on the other side.”
8. Work your pelvic floor
“Directed pelvic floor exercises make a huge difference in 60 per cent of urinary incontinence cases,” explains Mr Narendra Pisal, consultant gynaecologist at London Gynaecology.”
Alternatively, imagine your pelvic floor as a lift going up to the first level, pausing to let people get in and out.
Then go up to the second, third and fourth floors.
Now go back down to ground level, again stopping at each floor.
9. Think of three things for which you are grateful
...suggests Chloe Brotheridge, hypnotherapist, coach and author of Brave New Girl: Seven Steps To Confidence.
“It could be that you’re grateful for your healthy body, that it’s a sunny day or for the porridge you’re about to eat for breakfast,” she says.
“Practising gratitude helps us to retrain our brains to look for the good things in our lives, helping us to become more positive.”
10. Check your pulse
An irregular heart beat can be a sign of atrial fibrillation, which can increase the risk of stroke by up to six times, says GP and stroke prevention advocate Dr Yassir Javaid.
See a doctor if you are concerned.
11. Hug your partner, parent or child
“The average hug lasts 2.1 seconds but needs to last seven seconds or longer to make a difference,” says Andy Cope, author of Happiness: Your Route Map To Inner Joy.
12. Try the sit-to-stand test
Sit in a chair.
Now, stand up and sit down five times as fast as possible. Ensure you stand and sit fully, your bottom touching the chair, each time.
“Those without balance problems can do this test in less than 13 seconds,” says Rob Waite, physiotherapist at BMI Somerfield Hospital in Maidstone, Kent.
If you are struggling, keep practising until you improve.
13. Try eye physiotherapy
“Your sight can be improved,” says Leo Angart, author of Improve Your Eyesight Naturally: See Results Quickly.
“Take off your reading glasses.
Turn this page upside down and scan the whole article looking at the ‘white bits’ between the lines.
Now try to read the article again the right way up.
It should be noticeably clearer and you’ve just given your eyes 10 push-ups.”
14. Clean your mobile
Research suggests the average phone has 25,000 germs per square inch – that’s more than is found on the soles of your shoes.
Turn off your phone before cleaning it and use a designated screen cleaner and microfibre cloth.
Antibacterial wipes and disinfectants are abrasive and can corrode the screen’s protective coating.
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