It was initially believed that you could control 40% of your happiness. However, scientists now say that your happiness markers are up to your behavior, genes, and circumstances. So how can you become happier? While we’re busy focusing on so many other factors such as how to get better at work, how to get more done, we often forget that we need to do something about trying and becoming happier as well.

It’s as if we care about everything but our happiness. In fact, so many of us think that there is no simple way to make oneself a happy human being. Is that true? It doesn’t have to be. You see, there are some ways you can make yourself happier by reducing stress and improving your quality of life. Wondering how you can become an overall happier person? Here are 14 ways you can become happier:

1 – Exercise

Exercise is not just for your body but also for your brain. The physical movement involved boosts your self-esteem as well as releases endorphins that make you feel happier. It takes depressive symptoms down as well.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should start running on tracks tomorrow morning. Consider going for a walk round the block every night. Start practicing yoga or simply stretches every morning. Immediately rushing into difficult and lengthy exercises will leave you sore.

2 – Create a work-life balance

You can’t expect yourself to feel happier if you continue overburdening yourself with work so much so that you don’t have any time to spend doing things that make you happy. This is why maintaining a work-life balance is a must.

As you learn to gradually make time for the things that interest you, you’ll slowly overcome your burnout. In your free time, try pursuing your hobbies. Consider a job shift if there are any opportunities if your current job is overworking you and not making you feel happy.

3 – Get off social media

This doesn’t mean that you need to entirely ditch your social media accounts, just that you need log off more often. What Facebook, Instagram and all these social apps do is that they overstress you with negative thoughts.

People often find themselves comparing what others have to what they have. This induces depression, feelings of ingratitude, and other negative vibes. So, instead of continuously scrolling through your social media feed, take a break from it often and check it less.

4 – Spend money on experiences

Instead of spending money on junk food and other things, spend cash on experiences. Travel more. Not only would you get some wonderful sights to treat your eyes to, but the experiences will also feed your soul and clear your mind.

You don’t necessarily even need a friend, or another loved one to travel with. You can also do it solo which you may find is even more fulfilling. A study by Cornell University proves that spending money on experiences brings you lasting happiness.

5 – Volunteer to help

Volunteering gives your self-confidence a boost. It also alleviates stress as science shows that helping others lights up two reward centers of the brain. It also encourages the release of happy hormones which combat depressive and angry feelings.

Volunteering also helps you make more friends, improves your communication skills and relationships. For some people, it also gives them purpose. As you learn to become more social, you also shed off anxiety.

6 – Sleep an adequate amount

We’ve all been trained to think that working hard is somehow more important than paying attention to how much we’re sleeping. In the hustle bustle of daily life several of us miss out on sleep. Note that it is essential to get 7 to 8 hours of good sleep.

Sleep is good for your physical, psychological, and emotional wellbeing. It lowers stress and makes you more productive and energetic. However, overdosing on sleep can also backfire which is why you should avoid staying in bed for half the day regularly.

7 – Declutter your surroundings

Decluttering is equal to destressing. By cleaning up your surroundings, you’ll feel as if you’ve freed up mental space which can give your mental clarity. You can start by getting rid of trash and then the things that you do not need.

Don’t stop at your physical surroundings though. Go ahead and declutter your email inbox as well as your social media friend lists. Among the people you know, see which don’t contribute positively to your life and reconsider your relationships with them.

8 – Spend some time in nature

To some people, nature is the autumn trees shedding off leaves in the park at the corner. To others, spending time in nature translates to taking a walk in the forest. Either way, getting out in nature can make you feel happier.

Studies show that spending time in nature can lower depressive symptoms. Just spending 20 to 30 minutes out in nature can do the magic. You don’t have to spend any longer than that to see the positive effects it has on your mind and emotions.

9 – Consider meditation

Meditation helps a lot of people live a more peaceful and happier life. It involves breathing exercises that can calm you down. Meditation has been shown as a way to reduce stress and anxiety. It involves mindfulness as well. But it doesn’t have to be complicated.

However, note that meditation doesn’t work for everyone. A recent study has found that about 25% or more people experience negative events following meditation. These people are typically those who do not have any religious beliefs.

10 – Give importance to self-care

Many people skip self-care habits just because they don’t have the time to indulge in them. Which is wrong. It is essential to give your self some care. You can go to the spa once in a while or you can get a pedicure every other day.

If self-care for you means a long, hot, and soothing bath then go ahead with that. Or if it means that you spend the day doing nothing but binging on Netflix, by all means go ahead and do that every once in a while.

11 – Take care of your health

Another way you can improve your happiness is by taking care of your health. No one enjoys feeling sick which is why your health should be your first priority. Make sure your gut health is optimal because it too can be the culprit behind why you’re feeling low.

Eat healthy and get regular checkups. Get your blood pressure levels checked as well as visit a dentist as per schedule. Once your body starts feeling good, your mind will automatically follow. Once again, exercise must be taken seriously.

12 – Make and meet friends

You should have at least 5 strong and loyal relationships. Meeting friends and socializing is necessary for your health. Loneliness has many negative implications. If you don’t already have any friends, make new ones.

It can be challenging to make new friendships in adulthood. However, you can join any classes for increasing your social interactions. For instance, you can learn how to cook, how to dance or how to draw. Any hobby that you’d like to take up and would encourage befriending people.

13 – Dance more often

Dancing to the music is just as fun as it sounds. And don’t let your lack of talent in the dance department hold you back. Dancing improves your mood and also makes your self-esteem bump up. It also reduces stress levels.

A study by the American Medical Association found that girls felt more confidence and positivity after they danced. This shows that dancing comes with many perks for your mental health. It also reduces depression and benefits physical health.

14 – Keep a pet

Having a pooch around can keep both your physical as well as mental health great. Research shows that dogs can help lower markers of stress. They can increase the levels of oxytocin which is the stress decreasing hormone along with taking down cortisol production.

Pooches also encourage socialization which is another way they can improve your health. They make you exercise as well as they need to stay active themselves. A recent survey by the University of Michigan National Poll found that 90% of people think pets make them enjoy life more while 80% think that pets make them feel less stressed.

So, to sum up, there are several ways you can feel happier. You can dance, exercise, meditate, and spend time with loved ones. You can keep a pet and consider maintaining a proper work-life balance.

Don’t forget to take care of your health, take time off social media, and give importance to self-care either. Simply incorporate these fun habits or changes in your lifestyle and you may be able to notice that you feel less stressed and more blessed.