Cooking hacks, fitness tips and the Irish Siri: 31 easy ways to make your life a little better | australian way of life

Jher year didn’t exactly start with a bang for most people. 2022 is more like, as a friend put it: “2020 – the trilogy”. Although we crave change, many of us lack the energy to make big, sweeping changes; and even if we did, it’s entirely possible that the world has other plans.

So what little things can we do to feel better right now? In January, Guardian Australia staff and contributors embarked on a month of easy wins – sharing the small discoveries and changes that have improved their lives. Some involved giving back, others giving yourself a break, and a few involved a personal admin — because if you just need to achieve something, anything, you can always turn to the paperwork.

If you’re looking for a starting point, consider this an incremental, enjoyable laundry list. Try one or try many – whatever feels easy.

Give yourself a break

1. Do something nice for yourself first thing in the morning. Whether your happiness feels like a bubble bath, a good book, a run, or a video game, make it the first thing you wake up to, even if it’s only for five minutes.

2. Those who like chronic people, listen to this one: write a list of things not to do. When you find yourself trapped in a commitment you hate, write it down. Keeping a list will help you remember to say no next time.

3. Dress like a seven year old. It’s fun, it saves you the agony of fashion, and nobody knows what to wear now anyway.

Improve your health and well-being

4. Extend your walk. Getting off the bus a stop or two earlier will definitely increase your step count, and it might also lift your spirits.

5. Want to cut down on your alcohol consumption? Imposing alcohol-free days. A strict rule about when you can’t drink will give your body a break and might make you more attentive on indulgent days.

6. Remember that caffeine has a half life of 10-12 hours, so it’s best to stop drinking it after noon. Cutting out coffee and tea in the afternoon is a game-changer for struggling sleepers. And if you’re really lucky, you can even replace that 2 p.m. piccolo with a siesta.

Small exercises, like stretching before bed or pelvic floor routines, can make a big difference. Artwork: guardian design

seven. Do kegels while the kettle is boiling. For both men and women, a strong pelvic floor is central to all sorts of bodily functions (including fun ones like orgasms). Take care of yourself by incorporating a few minutes of exercise into your existing routine – you can do it anywhere.

8. If you have problems like acne, dryness or redness, treat your skin as it is – your body’s largest organ – and seek help from your doctor. A scientifically sound skincare plan may involve a script or two, but it’ll be more effective (and possibly cheaper) in the long run than experimenting willy-nilly at the cosmetics counter.

9. You don’t need to sit still to meditate. Like pelvic floor exercises, meditation can be incorporated into all kinds of daily activities. “When you give something the awareness and focus to realize its causes and effects, that’s meditation,” writes Bertin Huynh.

ten. Do a cooldown without the workout. You’ll benefit from some stretching or mobility exercises any time of the day, but they’re especially effective before bed.

11. Speaking of nighttime routines, read for six minutes before bed.

Unique Victories

12. Renegotiate an invoice. We might think of loyalty as a trait worth rewarding, but when it comes to your utilities, insurance, and other regular bills, it can be costly. Contact your supplier and call them for this.

An illustration of a telephone and a four leaf clover
With every instruction from your soft-spoken Irish Siri, you can feel your cortisol levels drop. Artwork: guardian design

13. For an instant drop in stress levels, change your Siri to the voice of an Irish man. It sounds so much better.

14. This one is a little painful at first, but the rewards continue: configure a password manager. You’ll never have to remember a pile of random passwords again – or even worse, use the same one for everything.

15. Consolidate your retirement. It takes less than five minutes and could turn into a more comfortable retreat.

16. Keep your memories private by archive your social media history. This will allow you to hide anything you want from prying eyes, while keeping a copy for your own records.

Culinary achievements

17. Buy imperfect products. It might not look quite as cute, but it’s cheaper, better for the planet, and tastes the same.

18. If your pantry is freaking you out, empty it one shelf at a time. A tidy, decluttered fridge or storage cupboard will make your life more enjoyable, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it all at once.

19. Learn how to make chilli oil. It goes with almost everything.

A calendar with meals each day
Meal planning, gardening and recipe writing can save time in the kitchen and at the supermarket. Artwork: guardian design

20. While you’re at it, learn to make dal. It’s healthy, easy and freezes well – so a jar tonight is a gift for your future self.

21. Plant an edible garden. Nothing tastes better than food you’ve grown yourself, and you only have to tend to it for five minutes a day.

22. Instead of frantically Googling what to cook for dinner every night, keep a written copy of your favorite recipes for your records.

23. Or prepare even further in advance and meal plan before you go to the supermarket. This will avoid that weird situation where your pantry is “simultaneously full of food…without the building blocks to make a decent meal”.

Saving time and money)

24. If you miss having a coin jar that fills up, open a rounded savings account.

25. Find a good tailor. Your clothes will look better because they fit better and they will last longer because they will be repaired when they break.

An illustration showing emails with wings
A disposable email account can help you avoid a deluge of unwanted offers every morning. Artwork: guardian design

26. You can’t mindlessly scroll through what you can’t open: delete your social media apps from your phone.

27. Configure a disposable email. Rather than climbing a mountain of unsubscribe buttons, if you use a different email address for business transactions, you’ll never have to deal with the resulting spam.

28. Stay organized the old-fashioned way, and use a no-frills, lo-fi laptop.

Reconnect and Give Back

An illustration showing someone donating blood
Giving blood is a simple way to make a difference. Artwork: guardian design

29. Get in touch with an old friend. A strange time to be in is a great time to reach out — don’t worry if you’re in email debt or missed their last birthday, they probably feel the same way.

30. Help someone directly with something your body makes for free, by donating blood. Otherwise, how can you save three lives in 10 minutes?

31. Set up a monthly charitable donation. Automating your philanthropy is quick, easy, and better for the charity because their cash flow is more predictable.

About Shirley A. Tamayo

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