As you well know, I’m not a doctor.
However, the following are things I do in my life to stay healthy and happy. Over the years I’ve figured out what does and doesn’t work for me. Hopefully, my personal tips can help you in some small way.
1. Adopt positive habits
People who smile in childhood photos live longer and have happier marriages (see Jenna McCarthy’s TEDx talk- it’s eye-opening and hilarious).
If you walk around with a smile on your face (even if it’s forced), it’ll actually make you feel happier (basic Psychology 101 class you may have taken in high school).
Seeing my students when I’ve been in a bad mood instantly makes me happier, and I also read inspirational blogs (my favorites are theminimalists.com and zenhabits.net) and watch inspirational TED talks (TED.com) to stay in a positive state of mind.
I find it valuable to develop habits and activities that maintain my contentedness, and I think it’s a good idea for other people to try the same. There’s no award for cynicism.
Adopting positive habits makes me happy, and isn’t that everyone’s ultimate goal?
2. Make time for friends and family
I’ve done the ‘all work and no play’ thing and it couldn’t have been a worse idea.
I’m a fairly intuitive person and I think my body just knows when my life is not balanced, so whenever that happens, I keep trying new things until I feel ‘right’ again.
I’ve learned that I have to build in routine time with friends and family each week- if I don’t, I’ll let work take over. I have standing dates on a regular basis with people I enjoy.
So for the last 3 years I’ve felt very well-balanced in my life; it’s a delicate balance, but it works for me.
It feels great to work out or take walks with those who I can really be myself with, and along the way we have great conversations and some good laughs.
It doesn’t matter how busy you are, it’s well worth it to take time out of your day to spend an hour with a good friend.
3. Practice a daily relaxation technique like yoga or meditation
I’ve tried to be a fan of yoga and meditation in the past, but I’ve never been patient enough to stick with either.
However, the idea of relaxation techniques always sounded so cool to me. Every person I’ve met who takes outdoor yoga classes at sunrise, or belongs to a yoga studio, is just on another- more enlightened- level, in my opinion.
I’m fairly young to be experiencing back pain, but it’s happening, so I figured I’d try yoga one last time. My students’ persuasive ‘Why you should practice yoga’ speeches (I get quite a few of those)- as well as my own body’s painful cries for something that would make make it feel better- were the reasons why I decided to give yoga yet another try.
This is when I finally found a solution. I’ve discovered that I love 10 minutes of yoga on my own terms.
I found an article online called “The 5 Yoga Poses You Should Do Every Morning,” (thehuffingtonpost.com), found some relaxing yoga music on YouTube, and got to work stretching.
It just seemed like what I needed this summer. Once I graduate from my 5 poses, I might switch it up.
It turns out that I really enjoy yoga when I’m in charge, I can pick the poses I do, and I can stop whenever I feel like it.
It’s good for your health and your mind, so give it a shot, or try something similar.
4. Laugh more
Laughter is good for you in so many ways. Laugh in the classroom, laugh with your friends, or find a hilarious video clip to laugh at online. It’ll turn your day right around.
5. Be kind
Be nice to people, it’s said that volunteering or helping out your fellow man is actually good for your mental and physical health. I try to help people out- especially students and colleagues- whenever I can.
It really is good for the soul.
These are just 5 great ways I’ve found to be happy in and out of the classroom. Feel free to email me if you try some of these, I’d love to know what you think- and let me know if something else works for you!
If you’d like to learn more, check in with new posts weekly at happyprofessor.com or take a look at my book, Happy Professor: An Adjunct Instructor’s Guide to Personal, Financial, and Student Success on Amazon.com (if you can find a free copy, even better).
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.