January is International Quality of Life Month, so now is the perfect time to start the year off on the right foot. Quality of life is a subjective concept—it’s different for everyone. But we all have our own idea of what good quality of life means to us, and that’s what matters most.
It might sound like a simple thing, but it can be hard to figure out how to improve your quality of life on your own. No one else can tell you what your unique needs are, but check out these steps you can take to improve your quality of life.
Find your ikigai.
The Japanese concept of ikigai means “a reason for being.” It’s the reason you get up in the morning, your purpose, and what drives you. It’s what gives your life meaning. So how can you find your ikigai?
Ask yourself these questions: What do I want out of my life? How can I achieve that? What is my ultimate goal? And most importantly, why am I doing this? Why does it matter to me?
Think about the things you’re good at, the things you love to do, what you find most rewarding, and what the world, your community, or your friends and family need. This will help you determine your ikigai. You may have more than one purpose and your purpose might change, depending on where you are in your life.
With this in mind, you can think about how your answers relate to each other—how one thing leads to another and how everything fits together as part of a bigger picture. Once you have a clearer vision of where you’re going and why, then you can start taking steps toward making it happen.
Set and work toward goals.
When you know your ikigai, it’s easier to make goals, and having clear, achievable goals can enhance your sense of direction and purpose. Take the time to reflect on what you want to accomplish and create a plan to make it happen. Remember that big goals will need to be broken down into smaller goals and steps to keep you motivated. And be sure to stay flexible in your plans, as life’s road is full of potholes and obstacles, so it’s good to know there are a usually a multitude of ways to reach a destination.
While having goals is key, it’s important to practice gratitude for where we are now. Even when life is difficult, there may be some things you can note to be grateful for. Focusing on the things you are thankful for can help you appreciate the good in your life and improve your overall wellbeing. Consider keeping a gratitude journal or sharing your gratitude with others, but even just spending a few minutes each day to reflect on the things you’re grateful for can make a big difference in your quality of life.
Prioritize your physical health.
Taking care of your body is essential for overall wellbeing. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and stay active through regular exercise. I often hear from patients that they feel they don’t have enough time to do these things. But when you do, you’ll usually find you have more energy and you’ll become efficient and productive with the things you’re already doing. You might also discover that taking out or reducing time devoted toward less healthy habits like scrolling social media, binge watching tv, and getting enmeshed in the drama of others frees up time.
Cultivate positive relationships.
Surrounding yourself with supportive people can have a big impact on your happiness and sense of purpose. Try to strengthen your relationships with loved ones and consider reaching out to new friends and communities. It has been said that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, so think about who you want to be and seek out people who can help you cultivate that.
Take breaks and prioritize self care.
It’s important to take breaks from work and other responsibilities to relax and recharge. Make sure to carve out time for activities that nourish your mind, body, and spirit. These can include playing music, making crafts, taking a bath, or spending time in nature.
Being present in the moment and paying attention to your thoughts and feelings can help you better manage stress and improve your overall wellness. Consider incorporating mindfulness practices such as meditation or breathwork into your daily routine.
Seek professional help if needed.
If you’re struggling with a physical or mental health issue or other problem that is impacting your quality of life, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A healthcare professional can provide support and guidance to help you work through your challenges and improve your quality of life.
Take reishi mushrooms.
Reishi are a superfood that has been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine. We’ve mentioned many times before that reishi are nicknamed the “mushroom of immortality.” While they can’t actually make you live forever, they may help improve both the quantity and the quality of your life. The main use for reishi mushrooms in Traditional Chinese Medicine is to calm the nervous system. As adaptogens, they help you to deal better with stressors, both mental and physical. They are packed with antioxidants and compounds that support a healthy immune system, heart, liver, and kidneys. And if that wasn’t enough, they also have anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve the pain and discomfort caused by chronic conditions.
By taking small steps to prioritize your physical and mental health, cultivate positive relationships, and find meaning and purpose in your life, you can improve your quality of life so you can live a more fulfilling life.