We live in a world that seems to be getting busier, nosier, and more tiring. We’re working harder and longer hours, and we’re retiring much later in life. In that context, doing what you can to improve your quality of life is more important than ever.
The good news is that improving your quality of life doesn’t need to involve making big changes. There are plenty of small things that you can do that will show benefits almost immediately.
What is quality of life?
To know how to improve quality of life, it’s useful to know what counts as quality of life first. It can vary, depending on where a person is in life. For example, people living in retirement tend to define quality of life be being in good physical, mental, and financial health, and that meaning that they can live independently for as long as possible. Younger people from gen Z entering the workforce for the first time, meanwhile, are far more heavily weighted towards the pragmatist goal of financial security. Millennials often have more idealistic goals than either group.
However, all groups can benefit from a series of quality of life “best practices” that will help get them in the mindset that they need to achieve these goals and feel better about themselves in the process.
This is what Marie Kondo has been famous for over a number of years now. There is research that shows that keeping environments that are minimalist and decluttered actually improves the mental health. You don’t need to go hardcore with this, but moving through your home and remoting items that you no longer need will give you room to fill it again with things that do spark joy. Furthermore, the fewer things you own, the less time you need to spend maintaining, cleaning, and organising them.
If you can’t bring yourself to throw them out, then consider renting some storage space. With the right temperature and climate-controlled storage space (to protect the items), you can keep items that you don’t need in the immediate term somewhere safe and out-of-mind, while still decluttering the place where you live.
2) Drink more water
This might sound like really silly advice, but in actual fact, almost no one drinks enough water. A full 80 per cent of us could be consuming more, and the lifestyle impacts of this are significant. A lack of water is connected to headaches, fatigue, and even weight gain (research shows that people often feel hungry when it’s actually just that their body wants water). So a really simple way of improving your quality of life is to drink more water.
3) Learn things
For far too many people, the last day of school or their university course is the last day they formally learn something. Once they’re in the workforce, that’s it as far as adding to their knowledge bank goes. Sure, they might read the news or watch the occasional documentary, but they don’t gain demonstratable expertise in anything else.
This is an unfortunate, because learning new things can have a wide range of lifestyle benefits. It could potentially lead to promotions or new career paths, but even if it doesn’t, learning improves your mental faculties and provides a powerful sense of satisfaction that comes from getting measurably better at something.
Take a barista or cocktail making course for fun. Sign up to a book club at a community college or group. Take up a sport and hire a coach. Download an app like Duolingo and start learning a second language. Or go and do that MBA to supercharge your career. There are endless opportunities to learn out there. Rather than waste your time watching poor-quality TV or over-indulging in video games, give yourself some time to learn, for fun or profit.
4) Take a break from the screens
Most of us use screens for work… and then use screens to catch up on social media during the commute home… and then use screens for entertainment in the evening. Our use of screens is exploding, and now, 90 per cent of people aged 18-29 actually sleep with their phone next to them in bed. It’s the last thing they do before sleep, and the first thing they do on waking up.
However, this is disrupting sleep and with so much of our well-being associated with getting a good night’s sleep, this disruption is affecting our quality of life.
The best solution is to give yourself an hour at the end of the day to read a book in bed – going to bed an hour earlier to do so, and making the bedroom a strict “no devices” environment. The phone and computer will be just outside the room when you need it the next day.
5) Find time for a hobby
This is easier said than done, when you’ve got a busy career to deal with, kids that need motoring around, and whatever other obligations crop up through life, but finding time for yourself is so critically important, both to help centre yourself and to give you joy in your own life.
Hobbies can range from time in the gym or a sport, through to a collection, a creative pursuit (write that book!), or simply finding time for friends. You don’t necessarily need a lot of time for the hobby to do its thing in helping your state of mind and well-being, but it is something that you should protect, by actually scheduling it in if necessary.
These are just five techniques that can help deliver to you a better sense of wellness and quality of life. It really does come down to the basics – are you sleeping enough, eating well, drinking enough water, and creating an environment that is enjoyable to live in? If so, then you’re well on the path to having a great quality of life.