5 Simple, Cheap Things That Will Drastically Improve Your Quality of Life

The act of improving one’s quality of life often gets aligned with increased income or better job opportunities. Indeed, making more money can provide the resources upon which you can build a better life, but making lots of money isn’t the only way to make your life better. Many of these simple changes often don’t require you to spend any money, and if so, the investment is small.

1. Make your bed and keep your room clean.

No matter who you are or where you are, having an inviting space where you can relax, let down, and get cozy is crucial. There is no rule that limits the number of rooms in your home you can do this in, but your bedroom should always be one of these spaces. It’s like a treat to yourself when you keep your space organized and clean. Doing so makes good days even better and helps you to better cope on bad days. If you drive a car, keep that clean, too. It’s all good for the psyche.

2. Learn how to cook good food.

Admittedly, this suggestion reflects some of my bias, as I’ve been married to a chef for 12 years now and have learned a lot about food and how to cook through that relationship. But the nice part about learning to cook is that even if your budget is small, you can make exquisite cuisine right from home using only a few tools and ingredients. Cooking from home also reduces your need to go out and buy food, which can become expensive over time. Cooking well does require some basic skill, which in turn requires patience. Meal delivery services have you covered if you don’t know how to cook or just don’t have an interest in learning about technique and flavors (hey, just like rock climbing and crocheting, it’s not for everyone). Keep in mind that becoming the next Iron Chef is not the point of this, but pleasing your taste buds is. Controlling what you put into your body is, too. I also enjoy that I’ve learned how to replicate some of my favorite meals from restaurants at home, which comes in handy when unforeseen circumstances shut the world down.

3. Embrace plants.

In addition to purifying the air, houseplants are aesthetically pleasing in any environment. You can purchase (or paint) colorful pots to complement your environment, though sticking with classic terracotta is also pleasing to the eye. If you’re concerned about caring for plants, know that several types thrive with minimal attention, such as snake plant, spider plant, pothos, or aloe.

4. Dedicate part of your time to analog activities.

No matter your age, sex, or location (that’s an early Internet reference), you can benefit from taking a break from screens. Other worthwhile activities that will benefit you more than scrolling your social media feed include: reading a book (I suppose an e-reader could be used here, but make sure you’re focused on reading and not browsing while on it), playing cards or a board game with friends and family, doing a puzzle (those still exist), going for a walk, or doing an outdoor workout.

5. Get to know yourself so you can be head of your own cheer squad.

Improving your quality of life happens relative to your needs and wants. Some of us want to live in a remote location, supporting ourselves with work-from-home opportunities so that we may have the flexibility we need to raise our families. Others of us want to live in metropolitan areas such as New York City or San Francisco with a partner and a cat, working as a stage manager for a local production or playhouse. Both are fantastic as long as the key players in each scenario are happy. And the only way you’ll know what makes you happy is through getting to know yourself. What can’t you live without? What do you need to cut and burn away from your life in order to claim peace? Figure that out, then work to configure your life around those things. For as hard as you work, you deserve to have people in your life who enrich it. You deserve to spend your days off how you want, to have your boundaries respected, and to have fun the way you want to when it’s your birthday or a holiday.

Part of what brings humans down in this day and age is our own merciless opinions of ourselves, which is another reason being on your own side (as well as improving your quality of life) is important. Most of the tension we feel in our lives can be solved by changing our location, profession, or situation so that we can thrive. Just keep in mind that quality of life is a personal responsibility, sort of like it’s on you to navigate crowds in order to shop successfully, or the way it’s on you to get the bartender’s attention if you’re going to get that Ketel One and cran.