Life is full of stresses. Work, family, social pressure, you name it — it’s not easy to stay positive. If you find yourself down more often then not, it may be time for a change in lifestyle. This doesn’t mean reinventing yourself, but it does mean taking more “you time.” Here are some activities and tips to help minimize stress and consistently boost your mood.

Meditation

Some people believe that meditation doesn’t work for them. However, what they may not realize is that meditation is a skill that takes practice. Studies have shown that a consistent meditation practice can increase happiness in individuals. For instance, a software company in Detroit gave employees mediation classes and asked participants to meditate five times a week for fifteen or twenty minutes each day. Results showed that those who meditated regularly experienced positive emotions more often and negative emotions less often. Participants scored higher on a general happiness survey as well. While meditation is not an instant fix, it can have a profound effect if practiced regularly. If you’re new to meditation, Headspace is a guided meditation app that helps you build skills and deepen the practice as you learn.

Exercise

Exercise may be a pain at first, but physical activity releases endorphins in your brain that increase happiness. Of course, there are endless ways to exercise — you can pick up a sport like soccer, an activity like cycling or running or a hobby less strenuous like yoga. Many gyms, like 24 Hour Fitness, offer yoga classes. If you aren’t familiar with yoga, it’s important to have some guidance, especially because you can sustain serious injuries through improper technique.

The Great Outdoors

Many studies have been done in recent years that point to the benefits of time spent in the outdoors. Most people spend the majority of their day inside, whether in buildings, cars, buses or trains. Hikes in the mountains, trips to the beach and walks in the woods can all get you the outdoor exposure you need. When you spend time outside, you give your mind a chance to slow down as well as a break from cultural overstimulation. Even engaging with nature close to home, through activities like gardening or feeding birds, can lift your mood.

Focus On Positives

It isn’t always easy to find the silver lining in a situation or feel thankful for what you have. However, there are ways you can train your mind to see the positives in life, rather than the negatives. One way is to keep a gratitude journal. At the end of each day, write down three things you’re grateful for. In time, your brain will hone in on the positives of any situation rather than the negatives. On top of this, put down the victim card and take responsibility for your life. While this can be scary, once you realize you are in control of your own actions, you will find a new sense of empowerment. Nobody is perfect, and it’s easy to be critical of yourself and others. So accept that you make mistakes and move on. With these new habits, you’ll find you mind filled with more positive thoughts and emotions, which will translate into a lifestyle that you can feel good about.

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