What’s been making me happier lately

I was going to do a round up of some of my favorites purchases I’ve made for working/staying at home (and probably still will) but I realized what’s much more helpful is this: what have I been doing to make myself a little happier? Most of these are free (or close!), and I hope these suggestions will help someone out there who needs a bit of joy in their day!

Reading:
This hilarious, amazing book and all of Samantha Irby’s other books
The Anna Edit‘s tips on kitchen organization, working from home, and what books to read next
Half Baked Harvest’s Nine Favorite Things because there are so many fun and interesting links and recipes every week
M.M. LaFleur’s newsletter which has fun things to do, make, read, and watch (just like this! I like these kinds of lists a lot) – you can subscribe here.

Working out with:
My favorite dance/cardio workout from when I lived in NYC (305 Fitness) is live streaming multiple classes a day – they are so fun and effective!
My normal powerlifting program (which isn’t free, but is only $8/month), Stronger by the Day, now has a 4x a week bodyweight/at-home workout program which has been keeping my strength up with the gym closed

Still getting a pump even at home!

Listening to:
My favorite podcast of all time (Forever 35) has a full length and mini-episode every week
The hosts of Forever 35 also launched a fantastic daily podcast, Here For You, which I love listening to every morning

Watching:
I recently discovered Kackie Reviews Beauty, and she is so informative, relaxing, uplifting, and more – very much recommend her videos
Cate the Great Beauty is now doing livestreams 3 times a week! So many hot takes and skincare and makeup advice, and lots of the same people come every time, so you get to enjoy plenty of inside jokes
My usual YouTube list – Allana, Meg, Michele, The Try Guys, Amanda, Natacha, Kayley, Anna, Sam, Kristi, and Jamie
The entirety of the Office because my husband hadn’t seen it before, and clearly we needed to fix that

Did using a weighted blanket make me happier?

I’ve always had a lot of trouble falling and staying asleep. I’ve been trying lots of different things to solve my sleeping problems, and one that’s supposed to help a ton is a weighted blanket. My husband bought me one in September last year, and I wanted to wait to review it here until I had a few months to use it.

I have’t used it every night because I toss and turn while I sleep, and the blanket can end up on my husband and wake him up. That said, this blanket has been a life saver when I can’t sleep or wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble falling back asleep. Even just last night, I woke up around 2:30am and couldn’t fall back asleep. After a couple hours of trying to fall asleep with no luck, I finally went and got the blanket and immediately fell asleep. I know I can do the same thing if I’m having trouble falling asleep at night, and it’ll work super quickly.

It’s also been really nice to have on our couch to help us relax when we’re reading or watching a show. It’s hard to explain the feeling of 15 pounds on top of you, but it essentially feels like a breath of relief washes over you. The one we have is a really good size for laying over two people while sitting and as a blanket for one person lying down, which has helped make it more versatile instead of only being used in a “sleep emergency”

Did a weighted blanket make me happier? Absolutely, yes. I’m so happy that we have this blanket, especially when I can’t sleep. It’s meant that I don’t have to rely on medication or supplements to help me sleep as well, which I’m hoping will be healthier and cheaper in the long term.

Did dressing more formally for work make me happier?

Originally, I decided to try dressing up for work because I wanted to get more use out of my closet. I have a large collection of dresses (over 60) and blazers obtained over the years living on the East Coast, going to business school, and working at places like McKinsey. When I moved back to Seattle last June and went back to working at a tech company, I very quickly started wearing the jeans plus a t shirt or sweater uniform. I realized that I had so many pieces of clothing that I love that I wasn’t wearing and instead was rotating through the same few outfits.

My giant collection of dresses, as seen by the number of hangers.

I definitely accomplished my goal of wearing more of my clothes, including many dresses that I genuinely missed wearing. It also turns out that “dressing for success” is real. Wearing my formal clothes made me feel more confident and put together. It put me in a “working” mindset which led to much more focus and productivity. I spoke up more often in meetings, even when they were conference calls. When I worked from home, I still made an effort to dress up, and it really did make a difference in how I worked.

Another benefit I didn’t expect was that changing out of my formal clothes when I got home into something comfier helped me wind down at the end of the day. It helped create a distinct change from the work day so I could relax rather than continually checking my work email when I was trying to enjoy dinner or read a book.

Did dressing more formally for work make me happier? Absolutely. I love wearing and getting use out of all the great clothes I already own, and more importantly, I love how dressing differently for work and home makes me feel. I will definitely continue to do this.

Did buying succulents make me happier?

To start off these weekly experiments of trying one new thing to see if it can improve my life, I decided to do something that was fairly inexpensive, easy, and something I’ve read a lot about lately. I’ve been seeing articles for months about how making your life greener will ultimately make you happier. You should spend more time vacationing in nature, cover your living space and office with plants, and go for walks as much as possible. My favorite podcast even did an episode about the book The Nature Fix, which essentially promises that everything in your life can be fixed with more nature.

But what about those of us who have no idea how to take care of plants, live in an area with little sun, and have a small apartment with no balcony? The recommendation: get succulents.

I wasn’t sure whether succulents would be a replacement for long walks outside or a vacation to a National Park, but we went to a plant store and got 6 adorable succulents potted to sit on our windowsill. Now that we’ve had them for the week, I know they won’t replace actually being in nature. I don’t get the same burst of joy and energy from them as I do from a weekend of hiking and no cell service. But they do make me happier. Every time I look at them, I feel a little calmer. I feel like I did something nice for myself and for our space. It was a small investment for an item that really does spark joy every single day.

My verdict: Yes, succulents can make us happier!