Just as everyone has their own definition of ‘success,’ we all have slightly different ideas of what constitutes a high-quality life. Research shows, however, that there are some things that make life more enjoyable to virtually all people, things that are more highly correlated with happiness, life satisfaction, a stronger ability to cope with stress, and a higher quality of life in general. Happily, most or all of these elements can be added to one’s lifestyle for little or no money, so virtually everyone can improve their quality of life in these ways.
Focus on Relationships That Affirm You
Our relationships define us in many ways: we tend to become more stressed when we spend too much of our time with people who drain us, undermine us, or who don’t support us in other important ways. Conversely, when we have a supportive social circle to lean on, we enjoy greater resilience toward stress, more happiness, greater levels of wellness, which can be experienced as a higher overall quality of life.
Get Enough Sleep (And Practice Other Self-Care Strategies)
When we don’t get enough sleep, or when our other basic physical needs (like the need for proper nutrition or down-time) aren’t being met, we can be more reactive toward stress. This is why self-care is so important, though, ironically, it is often the first thing to go when we become stressed and busy. Making self-care a priority can benefit you in many ways. Here are some resources to help you take care of yourself, both physically and psychologically, so you can enjoy life to the fullest.
Exercise In Ways You Enjoy
Exercise carries benefits that go beyond weight or appearance, though many people start working out because they want to look better. As a stress reliever, exercise carries strong benefits that work for you both in the short term and the long run: just 3 minutes of exercise can help relieve stress, and regular exercise builds resilience toward stress. If you add in the fact that workout activities can be fun and bring you closer to others, there are many reasons to maintain a regular exercise habit that translates into a higher quality of life. Does it take effort to maintain a workout regimen? Yes, often it does. But if you build the habit into your lifestyle by joining a class, having a workout buddy, working out before or after other regular activities in your schedule, it becomes easier to maintain a regular habit.
Do Work That’s Meaningful and Enjoyable To You (Even If It’s A Hobby)
One of the elements that many people associate with a high quality of life is meaning: we love engaging in activities that we are not only good at, but that help others or carry some significant meaning for us. If you are in a career that feels meaningless to you, it may not be possible to make sweeping changes in your career path immediately–and there may be other reasons to stay put. That doesn’t mean that you can’t still find meaning in your life, either by restructuring your work or by spending time in other activities that are meaningful to you outside of your job. In fact, by spending time engaged in gratifications and other flow-producing activities, by infusing more meaning into your work, and just by staying in the moment, you can have more of what is enjoyable and meaningful to you.
Stop Your Drains
Most of us have a few things in our lives that drain us of our energy, sometimes without even realizing it. Each of these things, known as ‘tolerations,’ can be mild to moderately draining on their own, but the stress that they carry adds up. If we find ourselves devoting energy to these multiple ‘drains’ in our lives for too long, we can be less resilient toward larger challenges that present themselves, so even if these mild stressors don’t carry much of a negative effect much of the time, they can hinder our ability to cope when we need it the most. They can put a mild-but-constant damper on our energy at other times as well. The problem with ridding ourselves of these stressors is that we often become so used to them, or so busy with our lives, that addressing them often remains a low priority. This is why one of the best things we can do to manage them is to become more aware of them. Then we can create and execute a low-stress plan for stopping the drains once and for all.
Do Some Of What Matters To You
You may spend a lot of time doing important things–thinks you have to do but are you able to do as much of what you want to do? If not, you may be enjoying your life less than you could be. Leisure time is more important than many people realize, both for our stress levels and our overall happiness. If you make time for things that you truly value or enjoy, you may find yourself more energized and excited about meeting those obligations–or at least not dreading them. Hobbies, personal goals, dreams–make a plan and make time for them. You’ll be glad you did; these resources can help.