You can start with as little as a minute or 10 breaths, then gradually move your way up. Time and time again, studies have shown meditation‘s numerous benefits: a sense of calmness, better sleep, more self-confidence, less anxiety etc. My favorite app is Insight Timer, but the best thing about meditation is that you are all you need. Apps, books, retreats, or teachers aren’t at all essential to nourish the most important relationship of your life: the one with your inner self.
I love myself is the quietest. simplest. most powerful. revolution. ever.Nayyirah Waheed
First thing (after meditating/peeing maybe?). We’re all dehydrated when we wake up. That tall glass of water seems meaningless, but it starts the day on the right foot for your body, mind, and digestion. If drinking water doesn’t come naturally to you, you can flavor it with strawberries, lemon, mint etc. for some extra tastiness. Yes, I’m one of those people who think water has a taste. A great one for that matter. Fight me
and my superior taste buds.
No matter how much of a breakfast-dreader you might be, you knew that couldn’t be right. Breakfast is important: you know it, I know it, the people at Dunkin Donuts know it… Your brain works better, your body responds faster, you’re prone to make healthier food choices, you won’t have any crashes afterwards. Win win win. Extra hack: My friend who works early hours for KLM, the Royal Dutch Airline, makes a batch of pancakes to go through the week, so she has something to look forward to. Of course, nourishing food per se affects our overall well being, but food is such a loaded subject for a lot of people, me included, that I’d rather not get into it.
Working out releases endorphins, the happiness hormones. You don’t need to be a gym bro to reap the benefits though. Just moving around your house/office, or taking a walk outside are enough to trigger similar bodily responses. It’s extremely beneficial to your productivity, mental clarity and mood. My virtual friends at Psychology Tools recently published the The Therapist’s Guide To Exercise And Mental Health. It’s one of the most exhaustive guides I’ve read in a while and I believe it’s a necessary read not just for mental health professionals.
Show gratitude (+a simple gratefulness method)
I’m as wary as the next person when it comes to studies from questionable online sources. Sucks being in the dark about who’s sponsored the research, how scientific the methods used were, and whether the findings are actually applicable and/or beneficial in real life. However, I’m a sucker for research claiming certain behaviors will make us happier. I’m only human.
A while back happiness researcher Shawn Achor, who’s worked with Google, taught positive psychology, and whose class was the most popular at Harvard (aka is trustworthy), shared his findings on 5 non-time-consuming happiness habits. (It’s important that we state they are non-time consuming, because as a society, we have our priorities straight and we value the right things!!)
My favorite was “write down three (different) things you’re grateful for, 21 days in a row”. I shared my own three things I’m grateful for a while back. Why it works: you’re ~actively~ training your brain to look for positives. You’ll be a ray of sunshine in no time (your friends might get worried at first).
Make a conscious effort to include activities you enjoy in your everyday life. Cliché as it sounds, you do only live once. Rules do not apply if you’re a cat or believe in reincarnation. Pic below perfectly sums it up.
Kind words cost nothing. (Well, not really, they cost you your mental sanity when you’re not selective with who you choose to be kind to.) Low effort/time; high reward- you can put a smile on someone’s face, make them feel more confident, make their day even.
A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.
Surprisingly, we feel better too when we compliment or help others. Joy is one of those rare things that get bigger when shared. You know, like orgasms.
More purposeful attention
Mindfulness is defined as “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, non judgmentally”. Only a small percentage of our time (especially online) is spent mindfully. If anything, after a scrolling session we feel worse, not better. Assess how checking the news or social media makes you feel and whether it adds any real value to your life (spoiler: nah). This is important. Declutter your digital and real life by paying attention.
Say yes/no more often
Advice at its finest. Some quotes I’ve come across often lately:
- All advice is a form of nostalgia.
- All advice is autobiographical.
Indian food? Spanish literature? Jazz music? You could be missing out if you continuously refuse to give new things a try. On the other hand, finding yourself agreeing to go to that jazz club you hate, for the 3rd weekend in a row, just because you can’t say no to your friends? You’ll find yourself depleted physically and emotionally if you don’t pay attention to what your inner self is telling you. Boundaries are your friend. While stepping outside of your comfort zone is crucial for growth, treat your needs and desires and time and self with the respect they deserve.
Look at the bright side
Is there anything remotely positive about your fucked up situation? Any lesson you’ve learned that you’ll cherish forever? Aren’t you proud of how you handled at least one thing during this stressful AF situation? Yes, positivity doesn’t come naturally to some people. Yes, positivity can be toxic when used to gaslight or belittle our experiences. Yes, sometimes looking at the bright side seems more impossible than the Earth being flat. It’s an important skill to have though, and just like with gratefulness, you can rewire your brain to find that silver lining. It’s been crucial for me to make it through.
Last night The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (5/5) was on TV, and I’ll close with one of my favorite quotes that it reminded me of:
For what it’s worth… it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be.” There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it.