Reddit user u/05tn3021 posed the question: "What's something small you started doing that makes you drastically happier?" The thread quickly filled with little changes people have implemented in their lives that have left them feeling less stressed, more in control, and overall, happier. May we all be able to find a little extra peace in our lives. Here are some practices people shared:
1."I started declining invitations for things I didn't feel like attending, such as going out with people I don't like that much, attending big social events with a lot of expectations, participating in activities with friends that I wouldn't like to do if they weren't going, etc., I started simply saying, 'No thanks. I don't actually feel like it because X.' No excuses, no easy lies such as, 'That day's my grandma's birthday,' and no fake feelings like, 'Awww, I wish I could, BUT...' Being the owner of my free time and learning to say no without needing to give further explanations has done wonders for my mental health."
2."Enjoying my morning coffee in bed on a fuzzy pillow and fleece blanket, and even wearing some fuzzy socks. I started doing it about four years ago during the worst/darkest months of my life as a way to find strength for the day. So much was out of my control, but that short time wrapped up in all the comfort and coziness available allowed me to feel something good. I still do it now, even though those difficult days are behind me. I also give that piece of advice to friends or family when their world is upside down. You can’t underestimate the power of feeling softness when everything else feels so hard."
3."Not working until I am on the clock and stopping work when I'm off the clock. My time is my time."
4."I started incorporating daily walks into my routine. It might sound small, but the fresh air and movement have done wonders for my mood. Highly recommend listening to your favorite podcast or playlist, too."
"Walking is awesome. For me, anyway, it makes stress management significantly easier on my mind and body. And, there's plenty of that in my life."
5."Undressing the moment I get home from work. I swap that uniform for comfy, soft clothes. It makes me chill out and smile just to think about it."
6."I now make my bed in the morning. Every single day. It only takes five minutes. Every night, when I am ready for bed, it makes me feel a little happier, like when I go to a hotel."
7."I started realizing the difference between when I actually screwed up and when someone's taking their frustrations out on me. Then, I ask what's actually wrong when it isn't a proportional response to the issue."
8."Baking with my daughter a couple times per week. Pies, cookies, different kinds of breads, etc. We have so much fun doing it together, and then we get to enjoy eating what we make too!"
9."Before my feet hit the floor in the morning, I forgive everyone I need to in order to move on in my life and not carry around stuff from relationships. It really starts to work after a while."
10."Whenever there’s a BOGO deal for any cat or dog food at my local grocery store, I buy some. When I have a few collected, I deliver to a local shelter. They are always so grateful, and I feel wonderful."
11."Coming to terms with clothes I no longer wear (for whatever reason) and donating them to shelters."
12."Solo travel. I never used to travel because it was hard to coordinate with others, and when I did, I had to plan something everyone going would enjoy, often sacrificing what I wanted to do. Now, I try once a year to go on a trip that I want just for myself, with no one else to please. Last year, I went to a farm and hung out with some awesome animals and painted. This year, I'm going to a concert and staying in a nice hotel downtown."
13."Not drinking during the week. It makes Friday's buzz feel earned and like I deserve it."
14."Keep a gratitude journal. I write down three things I'm thankful for every day."
15."Slowing down at work. I don't need to respond to every email right away, or make sure everything is up-to-date constantly. Some things can just wait."
"Bingo. This. Good call. Plus, I am privileged to work from home, so I always feel like I've got to jump on an instant message right away so people know that I’m actively working and can acknowledge them. But, slowing down and taking time is the way to go."
16."Daily fruit smoothie. I was eating zero fresh fruit before. I stopped falling asleep at my desk midday."
17."Abstaining from porn completely."
18."I wipe my counters and put away the dishes every night, no matter how tired I am. The energy boost I get from waking up to a neat kitchen is not to be underestimated."
19."I found a friend who is interested in the same things I am who is intelligent and open-minded. At my age, this is quite an accomplishment. We go to lunch once a week and usually spend about two or more hours just talking about the things we love. We share ideas, not politics or gossip. I am immensely better and a different person, you could say."
20."Smiling to myself. Like, physically smiling randomly. Really helps."
21."I quit my religion/cult and my anxiety walked out the door. It was life-changing! I quit putting my happiness and decisions in 'god’s hands' and started just focusing on what I wanted and I got so much better. I feel in total control of my life."
22."Forcing myself to do more arts and crafts. I've been in such a creative slump for so long. It's still difficult at times to be creative, but when I am doing it, it makes me so happy."
23."Deleted social media. Stopped thinking about the past. Those two things have been huge in increasing my well-being."
24."Bedtime routine. I worked on it, and now it's solid and I can fall asleep in less than 20 minutes. For an insomniac worry-wart, it's been life-changing getting solid sleep. My goal is eight hours a night. Since I need to be up at 7:00 a.m., I need to be asleep by 11:00 p.m. So, TV off at 9:30 p.m. (Alexa reminds me) after I've already showered and put on pajamas. I've got 30 minutes to prep coffee, start the dishwasher, brush my teeth, and go to bed. I put my phone on the charger. I grab my journal and then write things down. This has been the most important thing. Things roll over in our heads. If we practice the art of writing it down, then our brain can process things much better."
"Sometimes I write down that my teen son is stressing me out and I am worried about his future. Sometimes I write a to-do list. Sometimes I budget. Sometimes I write my feelings on the TV show I just watched. Whatever is rolling around in my brain gets written down. Then, I read about one or two chapters in my book, and voilà, I am sleepy and out."
"My sleep has improved drastically since I began a nighttime routine. I wash my face and brush my teeth, listen to a 5–10-minute meditation, turn on a sleep playlist on Spotify, and I snuggle up in bed with my Kindle. I’m usually passed out within a chapter or two."
25."This is truly really small. I started wearing my smartwatch to bed because I wanted to see what the sleep monitoring was about. That was fine. It took a little getting used to, but I got to the point where I didn't notice it on my wrist or anything. I then realized I can set alarms on my watch that vibrate and don't make a noise. I feel like it is much more pleasant waking up to a slight vibration on my wrist instead of the noise of an alarm, or of the noise of my phone vibrating against my nightstand. I also learned I could do this for naps. If I want to take a 30-minute nap, I can quickly set a timer on my watch and feel confident I will wake up. I have tried to convince all my friends to do this, but they don't see any value in it."
26."Yoga. Even just for 20–30 minutes a day."
27."I set my iPhone to only accept calls from people in my contacts. Do I miss an occasional call that I need to take? Yep. They leave a message, and I call them back. If it's a business or organization I deal with semi-regularly, I add them to my contacts. The important thing, for me, is that I get ZERO spam/scam calls coming through anymore. On average, I was getting over 30 of them every day. I am much happier with this setup."
28."Buying myself flowers."
29."Audiobooks. I get them free from my library app and listen to them to and from work, and when I do chores like dishes and laundry. Suddenly, I don't mind taking the time to fold my clothes perfectly because I'm being entertained while doing so. I also never had time to sit and dedicate time to reading, but this way I can consume books on the go. I read four books in 2021. I read two books in 2022. I read four books in the first six months of 2023. Then I got into audiobooks and read 17 books in the last six months of 2023. This year's looking even better. I'm already on my fourth book since New Year's!"
30."Listening to jazz or classical music while I do anything I want to focus on, like work or relaxation. I'm not one to be able to work in complete silence, and this kind of ambiance gives me the soothing noise but not the words where I'll sing along. Unless it's Frank Sinatra."
31."I put my phone on 'do not disturb.' It lets two calls back-to-back go through in case of an emergency, but I realized I was stressing about making sure I got back to someone RIGHT AWAY. If it’s a text, it can wait. I force myself to listen to music rather than news/videos at certain times. I schedule in relaxing time. Going for walks in nature has been the best one, though. Also, I force myself not to look at my phone. Every bit of technology is screaming for our attention at every given moment. If you’re always focused on something, then you’re actually never focused on anything. The times I'm 'bored' are great for kind of recalibrating my ADHD brain."
32."Stretching every day has helped a great deal. Doesn't always have to be a lot."
33."I stopped commenting on political articles online. Too many pointless arguments really ruin the day."
34."Putting my phone on the charger in a different room. I’m finding it easier to sleep and quicker to get out of bed. Overall, my mood has been loads better."
35."I started doing 10 push-ups when I got really stressed out or couldn’t solve a problem. It was something I could do quickly, and it makes me feel like I accomplished something. Also, it gets the blood pumping and gives a small rush of endorphins. It makes a world of difference when I remember to stop and do push-ups when I get overwhelmed."
36."Realizing that I can choose what I think about. If I catch myself thinking about something that’s making me anxious, I simply choose to think about something else (unless it’s immediately necessary). If it’s something that’s making me sad, I sit with the emotion rather than trying to intellectualize it."
37."I started finding something or someone to be grateful for every day and began accepting people or things in my life for who or what they are in the present moment."
38."Volunteering. Find out what kind of volunteering activity interests you and do it. It can drastically change your happiness level. I drive a shuttle van for seniors and volunteer at a community kitchen. I'm so happy doing them and I look forward to doing them."
39."I decided to answer every spam call with my best pirate impression. Now, telemarketers probably think they've dialed the wrong century, and I've found my inner pirate swagger. Cheers!"
40."I have a pillow scent spray. I think it’s a very light cucumber citrus scent. I put it on right before I get in for bed, and then I have the lovely scent while I read and fall asleep. Surprisingly, it's a really nice thing to give myself every day."
41."I'm only allowed to insult myself with G-rated 'curse words.' If I realize I forgot an errand or missed an email, I'll think, 'Good job, you goose,' or, 'Aw, you've messed this up, dillweed'. Then, instead of dwelling on berating myself, I'm smiling because 'goober' is just a funny insult."
42."Realizing I don't have to always go places with friends. It's okay to do things solo."
43."Instead of deleting social media, I unfollowed probably 70% of the people on my list so I don't get inundated with everyone's life and start comparing it to my own. I can then go and catch up on people when I feel like I have the mental clarity to do so, and not be bombarded with it when I'm doom-scrolling at 3:00 a.m. and wondering what I'm doing with my life. It really made a big difference, and I got to keep all of my hobby groups and can share my hobby stuff when I want."
44."Cleaning up as I cook. I often felt very overwhelmed with a dirty kitchen and a ton of dishes to do once I was done with cooking a meal. I started to make it a habit to clean up as I cook, and it instantly became more manageable when I'm done and can enjoy my meal instead of stressing out about the mess."
45."I tend to be a procrastinator. I know enough about myself to not let things pile up because then they seem insurmountable. But, sometimes it does happen. What I have learned is to prioritize, but not in the sense of always doing the most important or time-sensitive things first. I put one or two smaller, easily accomplishable and not too time-consuming tasks first so I can easily and quickly knock them off, and then seamlessly slide into the big tasks once momentum has been established."
46."Doing one chore or errand every work-day so I can actually enjoy a day off, rather than having to catch up on all the cleaning and errands no one wants to do on off-days."
47."Saying no way more often and learning not to feel guilty about it. Strong boundaries have definitely made me happier, though I wouldn’t say this is a small thing for everyone."
48."I stopped making things out of my control my problem."
49."I started being more assertive and actually asking people if something's wrong instead of making assumptions and letting it bother me."
50."I stopped reading the comments on social media. I thought it didn’t effect me and was just entertaining, but man did it make me depressed with the state of humanity."
51.Finally: "I'm trying to stop judging folks, and instead, I say to myself, 'I don't know their story.' Trying to be more understanding and empathetic has taken a huge burden off my heart."
I hope at least one of these small changes resonated with you and may help you take a little extra stress out of your life. If there are any other small life changes you've implemented that have made you happier, please share them in the comments below!
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.