A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting with my coffee reflecting on the past month. Whenever this happens, the general consensus is usually the same: I could do better. Perhaps that’s not fair to always say this to myself ;) but I like to keep it real, and to improve wherever I can, whenever I can. I’m a pen to paper type of gal, so I immediately reached for my notebook, and started jotting down areas that I wanted to improve in. Then, I began listing out approachable and realistic ways to do so. I was happy to see that the list seemed attainable, and for the most part I feel like these are things that I strive for each day, and maybe even things that I already do each day – but it’s easy to get lost in the hustle of busy months, of your own dark thoughts, overwhelming behavior and double booked plans. Seeing it written down is a helpful reminder as to just how simple it is to attain peace, organization and happiness throughout the day. So, here is what I came up with. I hope some of them help you, too:
+ Avoid watching loud, distracting TV right before bed. I highly recommend not watching TV at all before bed – but for those of you who find it comforting, fall asleep to a quiet show. (HGTV is my go-to) A few other things you can do in this area: set the TV to a very low volume, set it to turn off at a certain time (60 minutes, 90 minutes, etc) and set the brightness to low. The bright lights and loud sounds are what keep your brain from turning completely off and getting you into your REM cycle (deep sleep)
+ Stay hydrated throughout the day, but especially before bed. Drink 1-2 full glasses of room temperature water about two hours before you go to bed.
+ Apply lavender essential oil to your temples before bed. Rub a pea sized amount to each side for about 30 seconds, and take some deep breaths. If you want to go one step further, spray a light mist of lavender spray to your sheets.
+ Read something positive. Avoid news stories, crazy TV shows (aforementioned) or anything negative. I choose to read positive books with uplifting story lines or advice, or magazines that make me happy (like this one). Falling asleep to negativity has a major effect on our moods the following morning. Often times our bedtime emotions can carry on into our dreams, after thoughts, and actions immediately upon waking. (now you know why they say, “don’t go to bed angry)
+ Try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Having a routine for your body will help your sleep cycle. While it doesn’t have to be exact every single day, staying within the hour will help tremendously (I’m usually falling asleep by 11pm and waking up by 7:30am)
FEELING POSITIVE AND ENERGIZED THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY
+ Drink a full glass of water upon waking up. Having it waiting next to your bedside is a good way to get in the habit.
+ Everyone is different with their take on breakfast, but I’m hangry if I don’t feed myself first thing ;) Since I know this about myself, my first stop is to the kitchen where I will whip up a quick healthy breakfast that will keep me full. I pair this with Green Tea or a cup of coffee to jump start my day (steel cut oats with berries, smoothies, hard boiled eggs are some examples)
+ Workout in the morning. This is a hard one for me and I feel like a hypocrite for even typing this out, because at this current moment in time, that’s just not what I’m doing. I’m still struggling to get back into my groove, but I tell you this with the highest of hopes that I’ll be following right alongside you, soon :) But I’ve been there before, where the groove was golden and morning workouts were regular, and it was such a game changer on my day to day vibe. If you can’t get away from the house, schedule a 45 minute – hour workout in your own home. Pop in a yoga DVD or download a yoga app, find workout routines on onDemand, or look on fitness blogs for strength training workouts.
+ Take 1-2 hour breaks during your work day if you’re self employed. If you work at the office, set a timer every hour to stand up, stretch your legs, take a quick walk and get some fresh air, say hi to another employee, etc. Just get up and break up your routine.
+ Listen to happy music. I know, I know that sounds a little silly. But spend a good thirty minutes on Spotify creating several uplifting mixes for you to listen to while you work or when you’re cleaning your home. Music is such a game changer. Try it.
FEELING CALM AND STAYING ORGANIZED
+ Give everything a place. Your dishes, your clothes, knick-knacks, plants, blankets, etc. All of your items should have a home – whether it’s inside your apartment, loft, house, etc. or inside of your office. Also, a label maker should be one of your closest companions.
+ On that note, put things away as soon as you’re done using them. This will save so much time when things begin to pile up. Avoid having to go back and forth returning things to their place, and instead take an extra 30 seconds to return it right away.
+ Pick one day a week, say Sunday, to match up your calendars and make sure they’re synced. I keep a large calendar on the wall in my office, a pocket calendar that comes with me in my purse or floats throughout the house, and my iPhone calendar. It’s a sure thing that I’m going to make appointments throughout the week and not write them on all 3 calendars at once. So on Sundays, I take about 20 minutes to ensure that each calendar has the right appointments and times.
+ Take time to meditate. Often times I think people imagine that to meditate, you have to sit on a floor pillow in front of a little buddha man with your hands at your chest, and breathe. But this isn’t entirely true. Sure, that’s fantastic if that’s your meditation of choice, but you can take other routes, too. A bubble bath with dim lights, candles and a spa mix from Spotify is one of my favorite ways to meditate. Other times, sitting outside on a bench in the fresh air, or even going for a steam at my gym feel better to me. Mix and match and find what feels good.
+ Say no to things. Figure out what works for you. How often do you have to see your friends to feel connected? How many times do you need to go out to feel alive in your city? How many days do you need away from your work, technology, outsiders? Once you realize what you need to stay balanced, you’ll have an easier time saying no to the things that you know won’t fulfill you.
+ Don’t over buy. When you give everything a place (as mentioned above) you’ll see how much you actually don’t need. Simplicity is key to staying organized and calm.
FEELING CONNECTED TO THE ONES YOU LOVE
+ Remember how good the little things feel. Make lists of gratitude, send notes to the ones you love who don’t live nearby, leave notes around for the ones who do.
+ Make time. It’s easy for us to fill up our weeks with things we feel like we need to do, and forget to make time for the things, and the people that we really want to spend time with. This includes yourself. “Me” time is crucial.
+ Don’t rely on technology. While phone calls are imperative for our out of town loved ones, or hoping on the computer to Skype to see our nieces and nephews ;) your phone isn’t needed when your best friend is filling you in on her week over dinner, or when you’re cuddled up next to your person watching your favorite show. You’re not missing out on anything, I promise. It will all be waiting for you hours later. Or hey, even tomorrow.
+ Talk more. Ask questions and check up on people. Don’t assume that you know how they’re doing because you follow them on Facebook. Plus, we all know Facebook and social media outlets are designed to show mostly the good things – a lot of times making the rainbow look way brighter than it actually is.
FEELING FULFILLED AND CREATIVE
+ Find a hobby that makes you feel good. For a while, I was in love with drawing. I would sit at my 9-5 job and draw freehand in between client calls. Recently, watercolors have become so fun for me to play around with.
+ Journal. Even if you hate writing, make bullet points about your day and how you’re feeling. Check in with yourself, and soon you just might find what it is that you need.
+ Find an activity that makes you sweat, and gives you a good challenge. Lately, I’ve been flirting with the idea of utilizing the rock climbing wall we have available at my gym.
+ Volunteer. Plenty of hospitals need help and its generally not too bad of a process to go through to get signed up. You can also participate in food banks on the weekends, shelters, or recently, I became a volunteer photographer to take photographs of families who have a terminally ill child. If you search for it, you can find a position that feels right for you.