With the stresses of daily life, it can be hard to find the time to reflect and appreciate the positive things in life. The demands of modern-day living can be overwhelming, leaving many people feeling that they never get a moment to themselves, which can lead to increased levels of stress.

Taking regular time out to relax is essential in helping us lead a fulfilled and happy life. Making 'me' time a priority may seem selfish at first, but if you do it on a regular basis, it can improve your overall wellbeing, and reduce stress levels, helping you be more productive, boost your creativity and enhance your self-esteem.

How to live a more content life

Spending time on yourself can mean lots of things. You may simply want to switch off your computer and phone and bask in 10 minutes of silence. Or you may want to escape from reality by reading a book or watching a film that helps your mind relax.

There are lots of simple things you can do that will help you to feel happier, healthier and more content. Here are some natural mood boosters:

1. Do something active

Exercise can protect against the effects of stress by taking your mind off anything that's bothering you and making you feel good about yourself. It's widely acknowledged that physical activity boosts your brain's production of 'feel-good' hormones called endorphins and can lower your blood pressure, both of which can make you feel calmer.

Do something physical that you enjoy, whether it's going to the gym, cycling, horse riding, swimming or playing a team sport such as cricket or netball. Just heading outdoors into the fresh air for a brisk walk is enough to elevate your mood. Yoga, t'ai chi and Pilates all incorporate controlled movements combined with breathing, which may help you feel more relaxed.

Person in swimming pool.

2. Get a hobby

Activities that help your brain switch off from life's pressures are a great way to spend your 'me' time. Learn a musical instrument, do some gardening, go fishing, try your hand at painting or life drawing - just do something purely because it makes you feel good. Anything that takes you away from problems at home or at work will be worth every minute you spend on it.

A hobby can also be an ideal creative outlet and help you meet and bond with other people. And it can give you a sense of satisfaction whenever you achieve or finish something you've been working on.

3. Pamper yourself

Having a massage is another way to help your body release endorphins while at the same time reducing the production of stress hormones. It can also help your muscles relax, while at the same time reducing your heart rate and blood pressure and boosting your circulation.

If you're not a fan of a massage, try having a manicure or pedicure, or having a facial treatment. All of these can boost your self-esteem and help you feel calmer, both physically and mentally.

4. Take a nap

If you don't have the energy for hobbies or anything active, you could also try recharging your batteries by taking time out for a daytime nap, but try not to nap for longer than 20 minutes or you could wake up feeling groggy. Find a quiet corner, switch off your phone and close your eyes.

Alternatively, take a midday meditation break. Just 5 or 10 minutes of sitting quietly and observing your breathing could make the rest of your day more enjoyable and productive.

Lady having a nap.

5. Laugh it off

Experts believe laughter reduces stress hormones and blood pressure while boosting the immune system and triggering the release of endorphins. When you're laughing, your stress dissolves - even if it's only for a few moments. So, try to make time during your day to read a funny book, watch a comedy or meet up with a friend who makes you giggle.

6. Keep a gratitude log

Studies have shown a range of impressive benefits linked to simply jotting down the things you’re grateful for. As we fall asleep, our thoughts set the tone for the next few hours of dreaming, so by writing down the things you’re thankful for, a few times a week just before bed, will help give you a peaceful night’s sleep.

Remember to look over your log regularly or whenever you’re feeling down; it will help you appreciate the positive things in life.

7. Stop comparing yourself to others

Unfortunately, social media can trigger negative feelings. It provides us with the opportunity to judge our accomplishments, appearance and traits against others. In fact, researchers have discovered that 1 in 3 people felt worse and more dissatisfied with their lives after visiting Facebook.

Most smartphones will now tell you how much time you spend using social media apps, take a quick look, you may be surprised by how much time you spend idly scrolling through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Try switching off completely, whether that’s for a few hours a day or a few days a week, try to reduce the amount of time spent on these sites. Instead, use this time to try 1 of the tips above. And remember, the reality is, people often showcase only the best aspects of their life on social media.

Whatever you do, try to do it fully and completely. For instance, if you go for a walk try not to listen to music or think about what's on your to-do list at the same time. Just concentrate on enjoying the sights, smells and sounds around you as you walk.

How CABA can help

We're here whenever you need help, support or information that could help improve your wellbeing. Our services are free for ICAEW members, ACA students and their families.

For advice and information call us on +44 (0) 1788 556 366, email enquiries@caba.org.uk, complete our online form or chat to us online.

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