How often do you feel happy? If you’re not sure, do you know why?
Just like the search for the best night cream or deciphering the Instagram algorithm, happiness often seems like a moving target. We have to keep working toward it and sometimes the roadblocks can be hard to spot.
Jokes aside (although if you’ve found said night cream, share the love) if you’re feeling stuck in a rut, I see you. Here are some common practices that can hinder our happiness and how to turn them around:
Roadblock #1: Comparing Yourself to Others
The pressure to keep up with our peers has been around forever, but social media has only made it worse. Looking at photos of experiences and things others have all day long can chip away at our happiness one swipe at a time.
Remedy: Start Unfollowing
Go through your social media accounts and unfollow anyone who makes you feel less than great. That 22-year-old that hawks weight loss tea, poses in front of a wall of Birkins and somehow has no pores? You don’t need her input. Trust me. And honestly, if our posts make you feel funky, unfollow. No hard feelings.
Roadblock #2: Neglecting Your Health
Health and wellness goals are often the first things to get pushed aside when we get busy or stressed. But letting our diet or exercise routine slip also usually makes us feel physically worse, which has a direct impact on our mental health.
Remedy: Commit to Not Committing
Hear me out. You know I love a fitness challenge. But if sticking to only one type of workout or saying “I don’t eat carbs during the week” is causing you more anxiety, commit to switching it up. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day and focus on moderation over restriction. Small changes add up over time. I struggle with anxiety and depression. If my nutrition slips, I can start to mentally spiral.
Roadblock #3: Staying in Toxic Relationships
Relationships, be they personal or professional, should make you feel empowered and supported. We’ve all been in a lopsided relationship where we’re putting in more than we’re getting back or worse, getting back negativity.
Remedy: It’s Time to Break Up
Some relationships get better with time. Some have expiration dates. We’re not wine. And while these conversations can be painful, it’s important to let someone know when they’re hurting you or are simply moving in a different direction than you. It took until my 40s for me to start setting boundaries with friends and families. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
Roadblock #4: Financial Insecurity
2020 has put a financial strain on a lot of us. When we don’t feel financially secure it can be hard to feel positive about much else. Whether it’s debt, a job lacking growth potential or other unforeseen circumstances, it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Remedy: Write It Down
We’ve all rolled our eyes at the suggestion making our own coffee or forgoing avocado toast will *poof* get us a house. Building financial security takes time. Whether you consult a financial planner or turn to a budgeting app, take action in a way that works for you and your family. As a family, we set small goals. Penn and I aren’t numbers people – so we started working with a financial planner to give us a realistic snapshot of what it will take to send kids to college and eventually retire. Just having the numbers on paper made me feel better.
Roadblock #5: Ignoring Your Passions
What did you want to be as a kid? What is the one thing you would do all day if you had the time? Ignoring those creative outlets or long-held dreams puts a grey cast over our daily lives and the more time that passes, the worse this depression can get.
Remedy: Start Small
Whatever your passion is, make an appointment with it you can’t cancel. Practice new recipes every Saturday or dedicate 6 to 7 pm each evening to writing. Who knows, maybe it will lead you somewhere totally unexpected. Penn and I know a thing or two about taking this risk — and it’s a big one — but we’ve never regretted it. And even now, with a job that I love, I can get lost in creating a recipe. I’m not a professional chef (not even close) but I know I love to feed people so I make it a priority.
Roadblock #6: Balancing Life and Work
We’re all over-scheduled these days and now that we’ve all literally taken our work home, our personal and professional lives feel even more blurred. But never “logging off” increases anxiety and stress, impacts sleep and puts a strain on our relationships.
Remedy: Create Boundaries
Start by setting a time to begin and end work each day. Have a chat with your boss and then do your best to stick to it. And when it comes to your free time, boundaries are needed there, too. Make sure you have alone time when you need it or can schedule exercise or errands.
How do you prioritize your happiness? Share your suggestions in the comments.