I’m 30 in 200-ish days, therefore I’m obliged to begin to consider how much I’ve achieved in life thus far. Am I where I wanted to be at 30? Have I ticked all the things of the arbitrary list I made some 5 years ago? The answer I can tell you is no. No I haven’t ticked off a big chunk of the things from my list, however what I have done is learn to be a good person. 

I’ve realised that although getting on TV, learning a language or attending the ballet might have improved my cultural standing when it comes to dinner parties, it more than likely wouldn’t do is improve the life of the others around me. It’s less about the one-off things that give you immediate but short-lived gratification, and more about creating habits that can help you make the changes that can impact your life in the best kind of way.

I whittled down a very long list of things that I think make my life happier, healthier and more positive, whilst also having a delightful impact on those around me and their own happiness. So here they are, the top tips, the five habits to change your life…

More good food, rather than just less bad

eat more good food not just less bad food

This is a biggie. It’s all well and good to cut out pizza and burgers in the vain hope that you will transform into Karlie Kloss, but the secret to a healthier life lies not simply in the denying of ‘bad food’ but increasing the ‘good food’ you eat.

Learning to love green, natural, non-sugar packed foods has been a real struggle and one I’m not always on the winning side of. What I know for sure is that I will never give up pizza and burgers. But I have learnt to balance them with food that my body appreciates for longer than the seven seconds it’s on my tongue.

However, wheatgrass can go take a significantly long walk off a short pier.

Put your phone down

why you shouldn't read your phone in bed

I can just imagine anyone who knows me reading this and screaming at the screen “Emma, YOU’RE THE WORST FOR THIS”. Know that I’m aware of it, and I’m working on it.

It isn’t just your phone though. Please see also your iPad, laptop, tablet and any other gadget that’s backlit!

I doubt this is the first time you’ve read this advice, but let me reiterate it’s importance. All kinds of light can mess with your circadian rhythm (physical, mental and behavioural changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment). The light from the glowing electronic screens is especially bad for your sleep. And let’s face it, the older we get the more grouchy we are without a decent nights sleep. 

Stretch…

why stretching is good for you

If you’re like me and sit hunched like a misunderstood Disney character day in day out, then getting up and stretching might just be your favourite thing.

I’m going to let you in to a secret though – simply standing up and stretching occasionally isn’t enough. Instead, get into a habit of stretching morning and night. 

It’s easy to forget to stretch. It’s often overlooked because the results are not as visible as lifting weights or cardio circuits. However, stretching helps relieve PMS, leads to better posture, helps aid better sleep and released endorphins. These 5 stretches will have you feeling more pug and less dud! 

Learn to go to bed angry, occasionally

learn to go to bed angry

I’ll set the scene: you and your snuggle-bunny have had a blazing row. It’s 2am and you’re still fighting, because you were always taught to never go to be bed angry, so you’re pushing through until you can reach an agreement or one of you concedes.

Well the science nerds are here to put you right, because that old saying is actually horse crap. Going to bed angry is a much wiser move.

Lack of sleep makes for more irrational conversations. Sleep can help your brain compute not only what’s happened during the argument, but during the day as a whole. And finally, a lack of sleep can lead to the argument carrying on long into the next day. 

So make a deal; go to bed angry, but safe in the knowledge that come morning, things will seem a lot easier to deal with. 

See the best in yourself, as well as others

See the best in yourself, as well as others

Learning to love your flaws might just be the toughest of all these habits, but by Jove it’s the one that will make the biggest difference. The picture above is from a local beer festival. I was out with girlfriends and rather than get all dressed up and wear heels like I usually would, I went for converse so I could dance like no one was watching.

I’ve started doing this, rather than worrying about what others might judge me for. Or worse, judging myself. I just let it go (cue Broadway interlude…) and enjoy myself. I think of how brave other people are who just do their own thing, and I try to take on some of that joie de vivre for myself. 

I’ve learned that there is no genuine way to ignore the flaws you think you have. Instead it’s about being as kind to yourself as you are to the people you love when it comes to their less than perfect parts. I’m all for silver linings, and learning to see the silver linings in my own flaws is making me a significantly happier person. 

Sure, I’m messy, but maybe that’s because I’m creative. Yes, I’m usually running late, but it’s because I want to pack as much into my life as possible. Sure, I sometimes make poor decisions when it comes to my heart but honestly that’s because being in love even for a little while is worth the upset that may happen in the long run. 

So there you have it, five habits to change your life. They may not be ground breaking, but next time you are lamenting on the fact that life isn’t exactly where you want it to be, try to find some new habits to adopt. You never know what it might lead to.

Take care of yourselves, be kind and remember: you’re fricking awesome! 

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