It is nearly 6 AM here at home and all I can hear making a peep in my house is the birds chirping outside. Through closed windows! They are loud, but I love it. It is serene and reminds me of a fresh start to today.
It has taken me a few days- okay weeks- to sit down and begin writing this post. Perhaps I didn’t know what to say or where to start. It has been months since I wrote anything electronically and I couldn’t decide how to begin. Today I decided to just- begin.
Life has continued moving forward- we got married, bought a house and I jumped head first into graduate school, so that has taken up most of my time. What I began noticing was how much I missed writing and influencing whoever may be reading this. It brings me joy to write things down, share my thoughts and generally just look back over my posts and see what changes I have made in my life, physically, mentally and emotionally. We are so stinkin’ hard on ourselves, but the truth is, we are learning and growing every single day.
I’ve done it many times before, but it happened again- I was feeling overwhelmed, stressed and wanting to do too many things to fit into my day properly. I tried less sleep, I tried more sleep, I tried cutting things out, adding things in, etc. and I learned some valuable information about myself:
- I read The Miracle Morning– It has some good points and got me thinking about my routine a bit more. I considered what is most important to me and how I could accomplish those things nearly every day while still living my life.
- I realized that no matter how hard I have tried for the last 3 years, getting to sleep by 930pm is not in the cards for me. Therefore, getting up at 400 everyday is also not in the cards. Obviously, I disagreed and fought this idea for…years. Why??? One morning I just accepted it and I was able to organize my days much more easily by having this knowledge.
- I learned, and continue to work on, being present today and being happy- instead of focusing on the future and when I will be happy.
- At the end of each day, we can only do so much. We can try our best and put our best selves forward. It is okay if everything doesn’t get done. What is important? Did we enjoy our day?
Life is too short to panic, worry, get hung up, be dramatic, etc. When our time is limited, why spend it being anything but joyful? But how do we get there when every day life continues to wear on our motivation and spirit with real life curveballs? The answer is really up to you. Only you know the things that bring you joy everyday, the emotions you struggle with, the relationships that are difficult, etc. Examine these things. Think about how you can react differently, think about whats most important. I also recommend reading The Happiness Project. Not everything in it applied to my life or seemed like a good idea, but it did broaden my perspective of my own life and ignited some of my own ideas about optimizing my own happiness with life.
So here’s a bit of what I’ve changed in my life. I am still a full-time doctoral student, work 24 hours each week and am always finding a new project to keep me busy. The following things have de-stressed my days and improved my outlook on life and stress in general.
- Get Up Early: Almost daily I get up by 5 AM. Sometimes it is 430 if I get to bed early. Some days, I just let my body gets the extra rest it needs. I have time for my morning routine, I get to meditate in the peacefulness of a quiet morning and it lets me do a few things that bring me joy each day before the hustle and bustle begins.
- Morning Routine: This takes around 45 minutes and I don’t do each item each day in this particular order, but I do them most days. It sets a positive tone for my day and even the most difficult of moments seem more tolerable.
- Drink a glass of lemon water
- Meditate for 3 minutes
- Write for 10 minutes
- Read for 10-15 minutes
- Stretch for 10 minutes
- Tackle an item or two on the to-do list for 10 minutes
- Get time in with my husband and my fur-children every day: This may seem obvious but I actually have to vocalize it. I get caught up in schoolwork and the day just fades to an end. So, I make it a point to play with or walk the dogs every day, even if for a few minutes and have dinner and/or relax for 20 minutes with my spouse daily.
- Spend 30 minutes daily cleaning up: I clean the bathrooms, vacuum, do laundry, etc. It isn’t a lot but it keeps the house fairly clean and satisfies my need to carry my weight. My husband would do it all to support my studying, but I feel guilty that I’m not contributing, so this helps. I usually do this when I need a break from studying.
- Move my body daily: I have always worked out a lot, but at this point in my life it is just not in the cards to do all the workouts I want to do, plus other activities I enjoy like yoga and rock climbing. So, I made some choices, addressed my fitness priorities and came up with a new plan that I am loving. First acceptance here–what are my fitness goals? to be well and happy. This goal does not require weight-lifting sessions 6 days a week.
Alas, consider what is important in your life. What do you find value in? What brings you joy? Don’t wait until someday to prioritize your true priorities. Do it today. You will be happier with yourself and your life, giving you the strength and energy you need to love and show compassion to others.