1. Host the ultimate dinner party
Who says you need a special occasion for a party? Whether there's an indulgent layered cake you've been wanting to bake for ages, a barbecue that's been unused for too long or a vintage bottle of wine begging to be opened, it's time to get a group together and make a night of it. Go all out with fancy table settings, take plenty of photos, and make it a night to remember!
2. Unleash your inner child
For most of us, the stress of 'adulting' is a drain on inspiration, but studies show acting like a kid again is a great way to boost creativity and happiness levels. Experts say it only takes a few minutes of daydreaming, imagining, or doing arts and craft each day to get our creativity back, which in turn makes us more curious and open to different ways of thinking.
3. Declutter and create space
If your closet is full of unused items that take up valuable real estate and never see the light of day, it may be time for a clear out. There's a range of great local charities that welcome good quality pre-loved clothing, such as The Aunties, Dress for Success, or a Red Cross store. Not only will you get some warm fuzzies from knowing you're donating to a good cause, but you have the satisfaction of getting a wayward wardrobe under control, and just think of what you could do with the extra space…
4. Foster a four-legged friend
Like the idea of helping out an animal in need, but not sure you can commit to providing a forever home for a furry friend? Then fostering could be for you. Animal charities are often on the lookout for extra help to house four-legged (or even feathered) critters, and whether it's caring for a tiny puppy or showing some love to a mature cat in need of TLC, organisations can match you with a foster pet to suit your experience, preferences, and the amount of time you have to give. Jump online to see which animal charities are near you.
5. Stroll for the soul
We're hard wired to love the great outdoors and many studies have found being in nature can help with everything from sharpening focus to boosting creativity. Whether it's hitting the tracks in your hometown or ticking off one of the country's Great Walks, strolling can benefit both body and mind. But it's not just about the big Instagram-worthy views – live in the moment by kicking off your shoes and feeling the grass under your feet or take in the shapes and patterns of the nearby leaves.
6. Have a go at meditation
It used to be called 'new age', but these days, meditation is well known to banish stress and boost happiness. Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Angelina Jolie and Hugh Jackman swear by its calming benefits, and you don't need any fancy equipment to give it a go. Downloading an app is the best way to get started and meditation pros say it only takes a few minutes a day to see the mind-soothing effects.
7. Lend a listening ear
Sadly, loneliness is at epidemic proportions, and it's our elderly that are most commonly affected. There are many charities looking for people to make a short weekly visit to a local rest home or hospice, and other organisations coordinate volunteers to make a weekly phone call to an older person in need of a listening ear. Whether it's looking at old photos, reading out loud or chatting about what's in the day's newspaper, even the smallest of gestures can really brighten someone's day.
8. Make yourself a priority
We all know the importance of politely saying 'no' sometimes when the diary is looking hectic, but putting it in to practice is often a different story. While it can be hard to turn down an invitation if you're worried about disappointing someone, running yourself ragged tends to do more harm than good. Whether it's sitting quietly reading a book, doing craft or sweating it out at an exercise class, regularly making time to refresh and recharge is never selfish or indulgent – it's a necessity.
9. Learn some stretches
Don't let those memories of school PE class put you off, group fitness doesn't have to mean competitive sports or high-intensity sweat sessions. A great way to boost body and mind is with some gentle stretching; and a yin yoga or mat Pilates session can help coax those tight muscles back into shape. Class sizes are often small, and each move has a range of variations to suit different skill levels. Best of all, you're sure to walk out of class feeling calm, refreshed and happy.
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