17 things you can do to improve well being

What is well being?

Certainly a blanket term, well being covers everything from mental health, financial situation, physical health and world-view, to sexual, spiritual and philosophical fulfilment, as well as sense of purpose and family relations. Let’s answer the question of what is well being right now:

Well being is a state of existence in which a person experiences a sense that all is right and good in their life. It is a knowing, a satisfactory understanding of being in harmony with everything, and that “all is well”.

In fact, for a human being to experience overall well being, you cannot focus on only one aspect of the entire make-up. For example, if a person has a fantastic outlook on life and an amazing perspective on reality, yet they are unable to climb a flight of stairs without getting out of breath and almost fainting, then one might say that their well being is limited to a narrow area.

I have compiled this list, after quite some research to cover as many different areas as possible, that will help a person to achieve overall well being in his or her life.

1. Meditate

You’ll find that this is quite a central, running theme throughout this website. If there is any one single thing that anyone can do to almost instantly improve their overall well being, it’s meditation.

Why is meditation so effective?

You basically give your mind a chance to rest. Your thoughts trigger feelings which your body responds to physiologically. For example, if you recall something stressful that happened in your life, maybe you were being chased by a bear, your body puts itself in that situation again and releases adrenaline, cortisol and puts your senses back on alert. Don’t believe me? Try this then: close your eyes and imagine biting into a freshly peeled lemon. The sour juice squirts under your tongue and your nostrils fill with the sharp aroma of citrus. What just happened? You probably salivated at least a little bit. That is exactly how your body responds to mental activity of any sort, even a bit of imagination.

The goal of meditation is to stop, or slow down, or at least quiet, that continuous stream of thoughts and feelings that otherwise happens every waking moment. This gives your mind a rest and your body a chance to flush out some of the stress hormones that get produced from the constant thinking, planning and remembering that we all have to do in order to survive.

Meditation allows you to reset your body/mind system to function better.

I could write an entire book about the benefits of meditation, but there are more tips on well being to go, so let’s get to the next one.

2. Save some money

I don’t care how little you think you have, you can always save some of your money. Even if you put ten cents into a jar every now and then, make sure that you are saving something. As you watch your little nest egg grow, it will give you a sense of progress. Once you have enough to buy something, you could even sell whatever you bought and make a profit.

If you get to the point that you have saved a lot, you can spend it however you like. You could also give it away or help someone out that needs it. Maybe buy that bony stray cat a nice can of food so she gets a good meal for once. I guarantee that will give you a great sense of well being.

By saving up some money you’ll also develop the feeling of always being able to get what you need. If you have a good amount saved up, you will have a certain peace of mind.

The act of saving up money contributes to your well being.

3. Never stop learning

Keeping your brain active and engaged with absorbing and processing new information is good for your well being. One very brain-beneficial activity is learning a new language. Seriously, not only do you get to open up entire new cultures and the ability to communicate with probably millions more people, but the learning process itself has massively beneficial spinoffs that will boost your brain/mind power tremendously.

Here are some of the upgrades that learning a second language does for your brain:

  • Delay age-related cognitive decline
  • Increase multitasking ability
  • Adapt more easily to change
  • Improve memory
  • Enhance critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Increase concentration and ability to learn in other areas
  • Boost natural curiosity, teachability and willingness to learn

It doesn’t have to be only a second (or more) language that you take up to learn. Picking up any new skill and practicing it increases white matter, known as myelin, in the brain. This facilitates making connections between other knowledge and information held within the mind.

Continued learning improves well being.

4. Breathe deeper

Because of the fact that breathing happens automatically from birth, many people never think about how they are doing it. Most people’s breathing is shallow and high up in the chest. This is enough to keep you alive, but is not optimal for full health.

Becoming more conscious of the breath, inhaling and exhaling more deliberately and with practised technique has huge benefits to the body’s physiology.

These benefits come from temporarily reducing CO2 levels in the blood, which then alkalizes your cells. An alkaline system is optimal for health. You do need some CO2 in your system though, and it’s not necessarily an increase in oxygen availability that makes you feel refreshed.

Deep breathing also causes beneficial hormones to be released into the blood and you may experience a natural “high” from the release of neurotransmitters.

Breathing deeply and deliberately improves well being.

5. Eat enough fruit and vegetables

This is here just as a reminder because most reasonable people know that fresh fruits and vegetables are good and healthy to eat.

You don’t need to search hard to find out the benefits of all the vitamins, minerals and fibre that they contain. Some have antioxidants (prunes, goji berries, grapes), others supply steady energy for the day (rice, potatoes, oats), then you’ve got your fibre (kale, sprouts, broccoli). It’s all there for the taking.

But to put a slightly different angle on it, I find it’s very nice to think about how the pear/apple/orange/carrot/potato came to be. I mean the wider sense that it grew out of the soil of our earth. Think about how our planet is capable of sprouting so many different foods, in a massive variety, that are all available to be consumed.

You might feel thankful that the earth gives you this delicious food, and know that it’s always growing somewhere.

These thoughts along with the eating will improve your well being.

6. Have achievable goals

It’s very good to challenge yourself and set goals that you would be very proud to have achieved. Perhaps you want to read the entire works of Freud and Jung, or climb Mount Everest, or build a rocket ship to go to infinity and beyond.

Whatever your goals are, it’s very sensible to weigh them up and go for some things, at least, that are definitely achievable. You can of course aim for the stars so that at least you might hit the moon. An example of that would be like having a goal to make $1,000,000 in a year, but by the end of the year you only made $690,000. You still ended up further than where you started but did not reach your original goal.

If you are constantly aiming for stars and only reaching the moon, this could wear down your confidence and enthusiasm. That is why I advocate setting smaller, achievable goals along the way. These could be related to your main goal, or sometimes completely unrelated.

The smaller goals will bolster you psychologically as you reach them and signal to your subconscious mind that “I can do this”.

Achieving your goals improves well being.

7. Take cold showers

For many of us, we find our lives very comfortable. You may not have fulfilled all your dreams and you still hunger for greater success. But the chances are, if you live in Western society, that you spend many hours seated either watching TV or on some type of device or another surfing the internet. You have a roof over your head almost all the time and the temperature of your environment rarely dips below that of the average late spring afternoon in the Mediterranean.

This is generally not now humans evolved. Our ancestors were frequently cold, hungry, injured and/or tired. They adapted to the hardships thrown at them and the ones who survived long enough, passed on their genes. To us.

We are fundamentally designed to deal with hardships, yet we barely ever experience them. Of course there are people in the world who do live hard and grinding lives, but I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that if you are reading this on an electronic device, then your physical life is relatively cushy.

Taking a cold shower every so often breaks that pattern of comfortableness and reminds us at a deep level that we have the ability to endure.

There are lots of other benefits to taking cold showers too like improved circulation, boost of energy, feeling refreshed.

Taking cold showers improves overall well being.

8. Fast

While a good healthy diet is highly beneficial, and also enjoying the occasional “cheat meal”; where you basically indulge in the calorie-rich, delicious, but not necessarily the most healthy foodstuffs, doing the opposite can also pay dividends for the old well being.

Fasting, or not eating, has been used for millennia as a means to gain clarity, treat illness, detox the body, and more.

To the uninitiated, fasting for even 24 hours can be quite tough. You might be surprised how quickly a feeling of intense hunger comes on after missing a couple of meals and snacks. The hunger is the point though, it’s the challenge to work through.

The wise suggestion is to begin with intermittent fasting. Just skip a meal in a day. A lot of people already skip breakfast and this is seen as a suboptimal habit. They might make up for that by snacking on something unhealthy by midmorning. But skipping breakfast (the breaking of the fast) in a planned and conscious manner can reap benefits.

Once you get used to skipping breakfast every so often, then you might try breakfast and lunch. You can ease yourself into it.

Some of the purported benefits of fasting include:

  • Increased growth hormone secretion. Good for weight loss, muscle building and strength.
  • Balances blood sugar levels.
  • Decreases inflammation in tissue and joints.
  • Regulates cholesterol levels.
  • Protects brain health.
  • Boosts metabolism.
  • Delays aging.

9. Slow down

What? First fast then slow? Which is it? Both, actually. Fast as in stop eating for a while, slow as in move slower. In modern urban life, people tend to be in a constant hurry. This has the effect of raising adrenaline and cortisol levels (stress hormones) which cause all sorts of things such as diminished mood, muscle wasting and generally being stressed and angry.

Try this instead: Next time you have to go out on an errand, a meeting or appointment, before you grab your keys and rush out the door, stop. Pause for a moment and think about the very next thing you have to do. It is probably something as mundane as “step forward with my left foot”. But that is all it takes.

Move deliberately in a smooth and controlled manner. Consciously slow down your movements as you walk. You will feel noticeably more in control as you do this. When you reach your destination, you will also be in a better state to conduct your activities there.

By slowing down, you will do things more efficiently and actually in most cases end up completing your task quicker than having rushed and made mistakes along the way.

Deliberately slowing down improves well being.

10. Help others

Remember the golden rule? He who has the gold, rules. No that’s not it. Try again. Do unto others before they can do it to you. Not quite right either.

We could just sum it up as: What goes around, comes around.

Helping someone, human, animal, insect or plant, who is in need is one of the most satisfying things an individual can do with their time. The person receiving the help, in whatever form it may be, is entirely grateful for what you are doing for them. But the greater joy is held by the one giving the help, especially if it comes from a place and spirit of abundance and good will.

The act of helping another proves that you are capable and have the means to do so without impacting yourself in a negative way. You tell yourself through your own actions that “I have enough. So much in fact that I can give some away.” What you give away could be money, time, knowledge, expertise, resources, etc.

When you do give to others, you should do so with zero expectation of receiving anything in return. If and when you do receive something in return, it will come as a total surprise to you and could be in the form of someone helping you just as you did to someone else.

Helping others improves well being.

11. Spend time in nature

Walking through the woods really lifts your spirits. If it’s spring time and everything is just coming back to life from winter hibernation, the feeling of renewal and rejuvenation can be quite profound. If you get to see some wildlife on your trail, so much the better!

Always make sure to stop and observe your surroundings when you are out in a natural setting. There is beauty to be found on every natural spot on Earth. It doesn’t matter on which part of this ball you are standing.

Take advantage of the fresh air, the plants, the views. There are usually opportunities to physically challenge yourself too. You might have to climb a steep pass, crawl under a fallen tree, clear your path of debris. Who knows? Anything can happen in the wild.

Always be prepared though. If it is a particularly remote area which you are visiting, make sure someone is informed of your route and expected time back. Take the necessary equipment with you.

Once you have made the necessary preparations, completely immerse yourself in the natural world.

Spending time in nature improves well being.

12. Grow plants

If you can’t easily get out into nature, bring nature in with you. It is immensely gratifying to grow your own plants whether they be decorative or for food.

You also get the benefits of helping another living being (plants are living beings) to live their lives to the fullest.

If you grow indoor plants, they help you out by filtering the air and supplying you with oxygen, while they use up carbon dioxide which you are breathing out. A few plants placed in a room can really make it a more pleasant space to be in and if you grow your own herbs, you might even be able to medicate yourself when you need to.

If you do decide to grow medicinal herbs, be sure to carefully study what the effects will be of each herb that you plan to use. Plants are incredibly powerful in many ways. Just look at the example of cannabis and/or hemp. Entire countries are so afraid of this plant’s power that they try to ban it and even imprison people over it.

That’s another point. Check your local laws as to which types of plants are legal to grow for personal use. Plants are great. Grow them, use them. They will reward you.

Growing plants improves well being.

13. Juice

Take an apple, a couple of carrots, some celery, fresh ginger and a bit of lemon. Peel them, smash them into a runny pulp, then squeeze that pulp as hard as you possible can. Fill a glass with the juice that runs out, take a reclining seat on a sunny deck, lean back, sip, enjoy.

Need I continue?

Extracting the juice from fresh fruits and vegetables is one of the great joys of life on earth. Not only do the juices taste wonderful, they are really, really good for your body.

Some of the benefits of juicing are:

  • Helps to prevent cancer.
  • Regulates blood sugar.
  • Regulates cholesterol.
  • Can remove toxic heavy metals.
  • Helps oxygen uptake.
  • Good for skin.

You can buy a pretty good juicer at a reasonable price, but it’s also possible to squeeze out juice by hand. You will need to either blend or pound the fruits and vegetables, get some untreated hessian sacking, put the pulp inside of it and squeeze all you can. You could use something like a cider press too.

Drinking fresh juice improves well being.

14. Tidy up

If your living and/or working spaces are cluttered, dirty or both, then you would do yourself a big favour by doing something about it. Your environment can have a big effect on your moods and outlook and there is always something you can do to improve your immediate situation. It can be surprising how every small thing you do adds up.

For example, if you have a messy desk, you could start by putting a stray pen into a pen holder. You examine an old receipt. It’s from the sandwich shop you bought lunch from two months ago, so you crumple it into a ball an make a three-pointer into the waste paper bin. After a few of these, which may happen over the course of a morning, you notice all the dust that was laying under the clutter, so you wipe it down. “That’s better.” You think to yourself and you might noticeably feel some mental relief.

In fact, the act of tidying and decluttering itself can give your mind a break from concentrating on work. Especially beneficial if you have been concentrating for long periods of time. It’s a productive way to have a break.

Once your environment is tidy, clean and organized, you feel as though the decks are clear and you can confidently continue with your tasks.

Tidying and decluttering improves well being.

15. Laugh a lot

There’s even an old saying: “Laughter is the best medicine.” There are stories of people laughing their way out of terminal illnesses and deep depressions.

The reasons why laughter is so beneficial to health and well being are quite familiar from earlier in this article.

Laughing causes powerful endorphins to release and causes stress hormones to lessen within the body. It’s also a form of exercise in itself. It improves the health of the heart and tones the abdominal muscles. You also get an immune system boost by laughing a lot.

As well as regulating blood pressure, lighting up creativity centres in the brain, and making social occasions enjoyable, just laughing for any or no reason can instantly lift your mood.

Regular and frequent laughter improves well being.

16. Be grateful

It’s possible to instantly flip any negative thought process into positive feelings by finding something, anything, for which to be grateful. If you can’t think of anything to be grateful for, start with this: “Thank goodness I have air to breathe.”

Whatever struggles, challenges or problems you are facing right now would mean absolutely nothing if you were struggling to get some air.

Some of the benefits of including gratitude in your life are:

  • Improve self-esteem.
  • Sleep more peacefully and deeper
  • Reduce levels of aggression
  • Increase empathy

The spin-offs of these benefits are numerous. Grateful people find that their relationships improve. Appreciating other people brings them closer to you. They are more mentally durable. Any situation, however rough, is smoothed by an underlying sense of gratitude. They enjoy good health. The body’s organs, such as the heart, are under less stress in gratitude than in anger, comparitively.

Being grateful improves well being.

17. Get out in the sun

You have to be careful with this because over-exposure to the sun’s rays can be harmful. But if you avoid the most direct rays when the sun is highest in the sky, sunlight on your skin is actually beneficial. It can actually treat and prevent certain skin conditions such as psoriasis, acne and eczma.

Sunlight entering your eyes (never look directly at the sun) causes the brain to produce serotonin, a mood enhancing chemical. This is partly why people seem so much more cheerful on a sunny day.

Most people also know that sunlight exposure triggers the body to produce vitamin D. This works together with calcium to strengthen bones.

Soaking up the sunlight through your skin improves well being.

Thanks for reading

I hope these tips will help you with your quest for well being. It is something that has to be maintained constantly. There is no one trick that will set your well being to maximum and you can then forget about it. There are many more things that you can do than I have put on this list. It is up to the individual to find a balance and weave it into their lifestyle.

Good luck with all your endeavours.