25 Small Things that can Reduce Stress, Increase Joy and Make You Feel More Content Overall


What are the things in life that make you smile?

According to a survey of 2000 people it's actually the most simple of things - with sleeping in freshly laundered bedsheets topping the list. 

The key is to do the simple things often - and be attentive at the same time. If we pay attention, it's actually a great way of boosting our mood and our levels of resilience too.

Rebecca, aged 25, says, "I was seeing a psychologist for a while to help me cope with early onset arthritis. I'd been forced to place my graduate studies on hold and my boyfriend and I had just split up so I felt very low.

"One of the things the psychologist recommended was to do five small things a day that gave me joy. At first it was a struggle. I couldn't even think of five things. And when I did, I asked myself, how could something as simple as having a warm bath bring me joy? But after some time I learned to focus on what I was doing in that very moment - being mindful. I really got into it, and it became a way of helping me cope with the stresses I was facing."

The five small things that Rebecca did were the type of simple activities we carry out every day. But by consciously placing her attention on what she was doing, they created anchor, or rest points, during the day, turning them into small acts of appreciation and self-care. 

We might not be able to control the effect of illness or the breakdown of a relationship, but taking small actions in other areas of our life can impact our situation indirectly. It can enhance our belief that we can cope in specific situations, and can help us strengthen our resources to more successfully manage the area that is challenging us. 

So, listed below are 25 small things you can do, which the average person says makes them feel so much better.

  1. Listening to birdsong from my bedroom window
  2. Make a greeting card
  3. Being around children - even if just for a few minutes - and hearing their laughter
  4. Doing gentle exercise which releases happy endorphins
  5. Escaping to the seaside for the day, breathing in fresh sea air and eating freshly caught fish n chips on the beach
  6. Relax and enjoy a cup of your favourite herbal tea
  7. Getting into bed to clean and freshly ironed bedsheets
  8. Laughing at a funny memory
  9. Cook a new recipe
  10. Dance to lively music
  11. Catching up with a friend you haven't seen in a while
  12. Playing your favourite board game from childhood
  13. Sing your favourite song
  14. Complete a word puzzle or crossword
  15. Adult colouring in
  16. Reading a chapter from my favourite book
  17. Having coffee in a new cafe
  18. Taking a bath in the evening by candlelight with classical music on in the background
  19. Looking at funny videos on WhatsApp or Youtube
  20. Doodling or drawing
  21. Watching nature or history documentaries
  22. Having a pampering evening with a face mask
  23. Wandering round an antique market
  24. Trying out a new cuisine
  25. Sitting in a park under a tree, just relaxing and listening to nature

So what simple things make you happy? Write in and let me know!


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