23 ways to improve your life with minimal effort

Quick and easy tips to improve your life, from our wellbeing experts.

While there’s no shortage of experts offering ways to overhaul your life, major change is not always realistic. But what if you could make gentle improvements to your life with very little effort?

Here are 23 simple lifestyle tweaks that can make a difference to your health and wellbeing – with minimal effort needed.

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Embrace these minimal effort tips to improve your life

1. Improve your posture

Learn to hold your body the right way

Having good posture and holding your body the right way, whether you are moving or still, is important for your health as it helps to keep your bones and joints in the correct alignment. This ensures your muscles are being used properly too.

The good news is you can work on improving your posture without leaving the house with this simple tip from award-winning osteopath Anisha Joshi.

“An easy way to improve your posture is to put your hands behind your back, then stick your chest out,” she advises. “If you do this five or six times throughout the day, you will see a difference in your posture within just a few weeks.”


2. Take a cold shower

Embrace the cold (water)

Exposing ourselves to very cold water can offer a number of wellbeing benefits, from boosting your level of endorphins and alertness to improving circulation and cognitive function. If the thought of swimming outdoors doesn’t appeal, you can still reap the benefits at home by turning the dial to cold when you’re in the shower.

“Taking an ice-cold shower each day offers surprising benefits to the way you think and behave,” explains mental toughness expert and author, Penny Mallory.

“It’s what I do first thing every morning and it’s an exercise that is designed to practise tolerating discomfort. This helps to build discipline, focus, resilience, commitment and determination. In time, it will help to improve your mental toughness (and benefit your wellbeing too).”

3. Stand up more

Sit-to-stand moves offer a strength-building boost

If the thought of squatting your way to a stronger lower body doesn’t exactly appeal, try simply getting up and down from the floor a few times each day as a strength-building method instead.

“In some countries, they have a floor culture where they eat their meals in a squat position,” explains Leslie Kenny, longevity expert and co-founder of the Oxford Longevity Project. “Simply getting up and down off the floor several times a day can build lower body strength and refine your balance too. Studies have found that having the balance to sit and rise is actually a predictor of how long we live, so it can really help.”

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Learn a new skill online in just a few minutes

4. Learn something new

Pick up a new skill to relieve stress and boredom

If you feel in need of a new challenge, learning a new skill or delving into an area you’ve always had an interest in could be just what you need to invigorate your life – and it doesn’t have to be a big investment of time.

“Learning can help to improve confidence, relieve stress and boredom, increase brain function, and even make us more open to new opportunities,” explains Sara Jones, founder of Centre of Excellence, a global e-learning company that has helped to improve the lives of more than 150 million people worldwide. “Continuous learning can also improve your levels of happiness, increase self-esteem and self-efficacy. It’s also a great way to connect with others.”

You could learn how to count from one to 10 in Mandarin in less than two minutes, for example. Or if you have a five-minute slot available each day, perhaps devote it to a language-learning app on your phone.

Alternatively, if there’s a craft you’ve always admired like crotchet or knitting, the internet is a rich source of tutorials like this one:

5. Make time for a mental reset

Declutter your mind

Having a busy mind that is constantly on the go can have a draining impact on how you feel. Take five with the help of a book or the clouds, says Carolyn Creel, a decluttering expert and author of The Clear Method.

“One simple way to gain clarity or declutter your mind is to pick up any book, flick through the pages until it stops, and then read the first line,” she advises. “Often that line could be the message you need for that day. To declutter my mind, I also love to cloud gaze. I enjoy watching the shapes appear in the sky and trying to predict where they are going next. It’s such a joyous way to take time out.”


6. Create a joy jar

Try ‘three good things’ gratitude note-making

Practising gratitude is a renowned positive psychology notion that involves acknowledging the positives in your life by writing down three good things at the end of each day. It helps us start to pay more attention to the small moments in our day that make us smile, laugh or just feel appreciated.

Megan Price is a positive psychologist who suggests creating a joy jar to keep your daily three good things notes in.

“With joy jars, you can start to build up a collection of three things you’ve felt grateful for each day, and you can draw on these any time you need an instant mood boost,” she advises.

7. Use your sense of smell

Scents can invigorate and help you relax

Smell is one of the most evocative senses we have, and we can use scents to give us a wellbeing boost. You can rub essential oils onto your pulse points or add a few drops of your chosen scent to a tissue so you can breathe it in throughout the day. Another popular option is to invest in an essential oil diffuser to fill your home with soothing aromas. The Neom Wellbeing Pod is a stylish option – around £100 at Amazon.

“Clever use of scent has the power to transform a room and calm and revitalise the senses,” explains Claire Logan, a self-care expert at Arran Sense of Scotland. “Energising and uplifting scents include zesty bergamot, citrus and sweet rose petals, while ylang-ylang can help to improve your mood. Jasmine and lavender are also renowned for their sleep-enhancing properties.”

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Let daylight in each morning

8. Let the light in

Throw those curtains wide

Sleep is the one major factor if you want to improve your life quality. If you want to increase your chances of having a good night’s sleep, let daylight filter in as soon as you can each morning.

“Morning light ignites the cortisol awakening response and suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin,” explains Tony Pemberton, wellness and epigenetics practitioner.

“It also kickstarts your metabolism, washes out residual adenosine (if you didn’t happen to sleep well the previous night) and sets your internal sleep timer so that you’re easily able to drift off 16 hours later.”

9. Revamp your morning routine

Start your mornings differently

“Your creative brain is most attuned when you first wake up in the morning,” explains Logan.

“Try and use this time to gradually train your brain to accept activities such as exercise, spending time with family, listening to a podcast or even mindfully making a cup of tea or coffee as a better way to start your day.”

10. Drink up!

Keep hydrated

It’s vital to drink regularly, as this helps to ensure all your bodily functions can happen normally. Keeping hydrated enables your kidneys to get rid of waste while essential oxygen and nutrients can reach your cells. It also lubricates your joints, eyes and skin.

So, if you sometimes experience tiredness, a slight headache or find your concentration is affected, topping up your hydration levels could be just the ticket.

“Your brain is 80% water, so even mild dehydration of 3-4% can instigate neurological issues like brain fog, mood swings and fatigue,” explains nutritionist Sarah Mallinson.

If you find you tend not to drink enough, it might help you stay on track to use the kind of hydration reminder function often built into smartphones and fitness watches. You can also purchase water bottles with time markers and fluid intake trackers to help you drink more regularly.

11. Brighten up your breakfast

Add some colour to your first meal of the day

If you’re prone to having the same beige or brown breakfast, try adding more colour to your plate.

Dietitians recommend a combination of wholegrain carbohydrates, protein and fruit or vegetables. This could be scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast with mushrooms and tomatoes, or porridge served with fruit. Choosing wholegrain means you will also feel fuller for longer.

12. Eat well to give your brain a boost

Add more good stuff to your diet

One easy way to improve your life is by tweaking your diet. It’s recommended that we eat at least two portions of fish per week, including one portion of oily fish such as salmon, sardines or mackerel. Not everyone likes to eat fish, however, so other good sources of omega-3-rich foods include walnuts, flaxseed and chia seeds.

“Eating more oily fish can help to support brain function as your brain is made predominately of fat,” explains Mallinson. “But generally eating more omega-3 rich foods will provide DHA and EPA to support your brain health.”

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are two particularly important omega-3 fatty acids that provide health benefits to your vital organs. DHA contributes to the maintenance of normal vision and brain function, while DHA and EPA together contribute to the normal function of the heart, blood vessels and lungs.

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Walking in nature is good for you

13. Go for a mindful walk

Get outdoors for a nature boost

Mindfulness encourages us to be more aware of what’s going on around us, taking in the sights, smells and sounds. It helps us to be more present in and appreciative of particular moments, which can help to reduce stress and calm a busy mind. It’s also an easy way to improve your life with minimal effort.

An easy way to get started with mindfulness is by going for a mindful walk, paying close attention to what’s going on around you. For example, being aware of the sensation of cool or warm weather on your skin, noticing trees, flowers and wildlife as you walk and listening to birdsong.

14. Bring the outdoors in

Harness the power of plants

Getting out into nature and being close to greenery, trees and wildlife is excellent for our mental wellbeing, but bringing plants into your home can also connect you with nature.

“Houseplants are thought to have numerous wellbeing benefits including boosting mood, reducing stress, purifying the air and increasing productivity levels,” Logan explains.

“Easy-to-care-for plants such as succulents are great for adding a touch of colour and helping to create a healthy living environment.”

15. Set your caffeine cut-off time

Learn when’s best to have your last tea or coffee

We all know someone who can have a coffee just before going to bed and still get a good night’s sleep. But that’s not the case for many of us, and having tea or coffee from late afternoon onwards can mean that you don’t drop off easily.

Getting to know your caffeine cut-off point can help to limit its sleep-disrupting effects. Pemberton adds that even if you can drink caffeine late at night and still fall asleep quickly, it will still affect your quality of sleep. “You’ll have less deep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep as a result,” he says.

16. Ditch the car where you can

Travel on foot whenever possible

According to Green Choices, half of our car journeys are under two miles. If more short journeys were made by foot or bike instead, this would be better for your health and the environment.

Walking brings many health benefits, including improving your heart health and strengthening your muscles, bones and joints. It can also help with weight management.

Very short car journeys create more pollution as they’re over before the car’s engine has had a chance to warm up. With your engine running at a low temperature, the catalytic converter doesn’t kick in, so fuel output is more harmful to the environment.

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It’s good to listen (as well as talk)

17. Become a better listener

Listening is important for wellbeing

Whether you consider yourself to be a good listener or one who could do better, we can all learn from active listening techniques to improve how we communicate.

Why not try these top tips next time you are having a conversation?

  • Be fully present
  • Show interest by maintaining good eye contact
  • Notice and use non-verbal cues
  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Paraphrase and reflect back on what’s been said
  • Listen to understand rather than respond

18. Take 15 for you

Find a restful activity that helps you relax

In her book, The Art of Rest, psychologist Claudia Hammond recommends finding your own prescription for rest. This can be any kind of activity (or inactivity) that helps you to switch off and forget any worries you might have for a while. Hammond suggests prescribing yourself 15 minutes every day to enjoy this guilt-free rest time.

Woman relaxing with a book and a cuppaCredit: Shutterstock/Dragon Images
Find ways to unwind that you enjoy

19. Keep a worry notebook

Don’t let worries cloud your mind

It’s not always easy to talk about how we’re feeling, and this can lead us to ruminate on our worries.

Keeping a worry notebook can help to provide some much-needed clarity on anything that’s on your mind and improve your life in just a few short strokes of a pen.

One study even found that writing down your negative thoughts and worries  actually reduced the size of negative brain wave signals in people who worried a lot.

20. Appreciate your standing-in-queues time

Waiting isn’t always wasted time

Experiencing delays with queuing, medical appointments or train connections can be particularly frustrating.

Hammond recommends reframing your thinking about this as rest time rather than wasted time. She advises seizing those moments and using them to just stand and stare.

21. Master box breathing

Try this under-two-minutes breathing technique

Box breathing is a practice that helps to lower stress levels and calms your mind. Here’s how to do it:

  • Breathe in for four seconds
  • Hold for four seconds
  • Breathe out for four seconds
  • Hold for four seconds
  • Repeat this cycle four to six times

22. Increase your daily activity

Find easy ways to move more each day

Building in more daily activity doesn’t have to be arduous, says Catherine Quinn, chiropractor and president of the British Chiropractic Association.

“Exercise has been proven to improve your mood, and your back and body also love to stay active,” she explains.

“Try and move around every 20 to 30 minutes, whether at home or at work, and look for smaller opportunities to move more during the day. For example, walk to the shop instead of getting the bus, and go out at lunchtime. Another top tip is to always stand when you take a phone call.”

23. Spread kindness

Be kind and reap the happiness benefits

Helping others and being kind not only increase the recipient’s happiness, they also boost our own levels of happiness too.

Small acts of kindness, such as offering a friendly smile or sharing a few words while waiting in a queue, can all make a difference.

Julie Penfold

Written by Julie Penfold she/her


Julie Penfold has been a specialist health and wellbeing journalist for more than 15 years and has been a finalist in three prestigious health and medical journalism awards during that time.

She has written for a wide variety of health, medical, wellbeing and fitness magazines and websites. These have included Running, TechRadar, Outdoor Fitness, Be Healthy, Top Sante, Doctors.net.uk, Primary Health Care, Community Practitioner, CareKnowledge and The Guardian’s Social Care network.

Away from work, Julie is a huge Sunderland fan, loves watching football, athletics and swimming (live whenever possible!) and is a long-term vegetarian. She also loves to run, swim and practise yoga.

Previously, she loved to race too but since 2018, this has been firmly put on the backburner due to her having back-to-back sports injuries, both of which required subsequent surgery. Julie was gearing up to a return to racing after five years, but a further injury has hampered her imminent plans. Instead, recovering well is top of her list at the moment.

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