Many people often find themselves to be miserable and stressed, for no apparent reason. In fact, nowadays this seems to be quite common. As a university student I see many of my peers breaking down and getting upset over essays, deadlines and heavy workloads. But, what if I told you that something as simple as a tiny dietary change could impact on the way you feel? You’d probably think I was crazy, but something as simple as this worked for me. Anyway, these changes that I’m suggesting here are so small, anybody could implement them.
Couple these following suggestions with positive thoughts and you’re on your way to a lifetime of happiness!
[I’m not a medical expert, I’m not suggesting that these ideas will cure depression or mental illness, always seek medical help if it’s something serious. I’m just sharing what worked for me with regard to being more optimistic and less stressed.]
I also made a video on the topic if you’d rather watch me talk at a camera…it’s worth it just for the fail at the end.
So, the most important tip – which is also the most difficult – is to accept where you’re at. Accepting your place in the world can be challenging, but it’s important to realise what you can change about yourself, and what you can’t. As I mention in my video, it is very difficult for someone working in a 9-5 job to stand up and on impulse move to Hawaii. It may be many people’s fantasy, but it’s just not realistic. However, what is realistic is understanding and accepting your position, accepting that you don’t want to be where you are forever, and taking reasonable steps to adapt and change. The only real example that I can provide is my own situation, as this process is a very unique, individual journey.
So let’s take my situation. I’m a poor, university student who used to have a part-time job whilst studying but now doesn’t work at all. The only income I have is from student loan. Whilst I loved living independently in Oxford with my boyfriend, in our tiny one-room apartment, I also knew I really wanted to travel. My passion for seeing the world beyond the British Isles pushed me to apply to study on exchange abroad at the University of Iceland. For all you students out there, these kinds of schemes (ERASMUS or International), are available at most universities. And then once summer rolled around and it became apparent that I wouldn’t be able to afford to stay in Iceland, I used the remainder of my student loan to move to Spain. Here, I’m using my free time to live simply, enjoy the new culture, and work on my activism (through this blog, YouTube, and social media).
Who knows what the future will hold for me post-degree? I’m not worried, though, because I know that by accepting my place in the world, I will be happy in any direction that life takes me.
Okay, phew, tough stuff over. The next few things that I do which keep me staying happy and optimistic most of the time are small lifestyle changes that make a big difference.
Making sure you’re drinking enough water is really important. Most people aren’t hydrated enough, even though they are aware of this fact. You’ve heard it all before, you don’t need me to lecture you on how you should drink water. But just do it. It clears your mind, it helps you think, it gives you energy, it’s good for your skin … all of these things contribute to your overall happiness. It might sound superficial, but if you feel good on the inside, then you’ll feel good on the outside, too.
I am not going to make statements about how much water you should drink as enough water will vary from person-to-person. And as you get used to drinking more, it gets easier for your body to hold more. I like to drink two big glasses when I get up in the morning, and then I’ll often have fruit for breakfast which often have a high water content. I also drink a glass of water with each meal, and then throughout the day I’ll just make sure I have a bottle nearby.
Alongside your increased hydration, an increasingly carbohydrate-based diet will do your mood wonders (at least, it worked for me!). Namely, potatoes. If you want to get even more specific, sweet potatoes are the best thing you can possibly eat. These foods are full of energy, good sugars, full of a variety of nutrients, are healthy AND they taste delicious. It’s even possible to live off just eating potatoes, although I don’t personally recommend this. I don’t know the science behind this – perhaps there isn’t any – but I can say from personal experience that nothing increases my mood more than a plate full of homemade baked potato wedges. It’s the best kind of comfort food.
You can get similar positive mood effects from foods like rice and pasta (depending on your preferences), but in my opinion sweet potatoes and white potatoes are nutritionally superior. Basically adopting a high carb vegan diet will do wonders to the animals, the planet, your health AND your mood.
So another thing I like to do when I’m feeling sad is to get outside. Staying indoors sometimes can just feel suffocating and overbearing. That’s why I like to go for a walk in the sunshine every day. Even if it’s just to the grocery shop, I’m getting myself outdoors, I’m using my legs, I’m breathing in the fresh air. When I lived in Iceland, I would often go for a walk down by the sea. There’s just something about being alone with your thoughts, breathing in the fresh air, that’s simply freeing. I like to listen to music whilst I’m walking. If it’s sunny, that’s even better because you’re getting your daily dose of vitamin D that way. Sunshine naturally boosts your mood, anyway.
If you prefer to cycle, or jog, this works just as well but it’s not necessary to push yourself at excercise to feel good outdoors. Simply being outside can do wonders on your happiness. If you live in the countryside, nature is your oyster! If you’re like me, living in a city, the next best thing to do is walk to a park, so you can at least be surrounded by trees and grass rather than traffic and buildings.
So, there you have it! I said it was simple, didn’t I? Of course, these are positivity boosters, but the real long-term change has to come from your reactions to the world. That is why the first point about accepting your place is by far the most important. But, for a temporary shift in happiness, staying hydrated, eating plenty of high-carb foods such as potatoes, and going for daily walks outside will definitely do the trick. It worked for me, chances are it will work for you guys too.
What are some of your habits that you like to do to keep positivity and happiness flowing? Let me know in the comments! Don’t forget to share this page and subscribe to the website for new content. You can also find me on Youtube, Twitter,Instagram, Google + and Tumblr for even more!