I spend a lot of time talking about wellness and fitness and taking care of our bodies. I have taken another hiatus from writing for the past month or so, focusing more on my mental and emotional health. I still have much to learn, but I find myself being more confident and happy every day.
We live in a world where we are constantly committing, and even over-committing ourselves to serve others. This is not a bad thing. Being a good friend, mother, wife, sister, aunt, neighbor and in general, human, is always a good thing. Being kind and helpful breeds a positive energy that brightens the day of those around us, inspiring them to also emit kindness and helpfulness from themselves. It is contagious. And this is good.
What is not good? The part where we over-commit so much that we completely drain our stores of kindness. We get burnt out and we cannot be present for others the way we would like to be. The relationships we care most about fall to the bottom of our priority list as we take on more and more responsibilities that we do not have the time or reserves for.
It is vital that we care for ourselves a little bit each day, to build up our positive, kind energy reserves. Without doing this, my energy/kindness gas tank runs on empty and its impossible for me to be present in the moment without thinking about the mile-long list of commitments I am likely behind on.
The past couple of months I have started prioritizing (even more than before) the things that make me happy and serve me the most in my mission to be better every day and leave a positive impact on the people around me. These will likely be different for everyone, but do not need to be complicated.
When I thought about these “things”, I came up with a list of things I would love to be doing that I wasn’t, and things that made would replenish my reserves for being present. They were:
- Have a morning routine.
- Learn and Be Inspired Everyday.
- Choose Positive Energy and Happiness.
- Turn Toward Friends and Family to Build Relationships
I realize this list is vague- but it was my starting point and leaves room for personalization. I do most of these things, most days. And I don’t get down on myself if I miss a day. It just isn’t worth the negative energy. We do our best. Everyday. Spent doing the things we enjoy. And that is all we can expect of ourselves.
1. Have a Morning Routine
My day starts between 5 and 6 AM most days. Sure, it is early, but it works for me. I try to keep it consistent even on my days off, but I’d say once a week I sleep until 8. Because, well, we need sleep. First, I do everything I can to not look at my phone until my day has actually started—i.e., after I get through my morning shenanigans. I have some water and get some fresh air. I walk one dog, play frisbee with the other and check on my garden. This leaves me about 15 minutes to sit down with a cup of hot lemon water or tea to read. This all takes about 45 minutes, depending on the day. I follow this by making coffee and breakfast, and starting whatever it is I have planned for that day. Just this simple 45 minutes lets me focus on me and no matter how busy or complicated the rest of the day gets, I have started it by caring for myself.
2. Learn and Be Inspired Everyday
I think it is important for us to be lifelong learners, to re-assess our mental and physical wellness regularly and to always be challenged. For this, I choose to listen to podcasts while I am walking the dog and often when I am driving or doing work around the house. I also read a lot of non-fiction and occasionally stimulate my brain with a good novel. One thing I want to do more in this area is to write daily about gratitude and the inspiration I have found throughout the day. Just taking a few moments to stimulate our brains and focus on the good things can make a big difference in our attitudes and happiness.
3. Choose Positive Energy and Happiness
We all know that life is hard, crazy busy and down-right difficult at times. We have hardships and are challenged every day. I have found that choosing to be positive in spite of everything else makes a difference in my happiness and my ability to be present. Truly, even if it seems like everything went wrong today, I still woke up this morning. I am generally happy and healthy. I have loving family and friends. In the grand scheme of things, the trials of my day are not a big deal. They are momentary, and I’m okay.
4. Turn Toward Friends and Family to Build Relationships
Friends and family are the people that are there to support us in times when our reserves cannot be replenished. It is important to nurture these relationships. I sometimes find myself in the middle of a task or doing something that seems to be really important at the time, and being interrupted by a phone call. I used to ignore these calls and may or may not have gotten back to that person later. Not anymore. If what I doing is time sensitive, I may. Or I may send a quick text to see if all is okay and if I can return their call in an hour. But things like the laundry, cleaning, reading a good book or watching a television show–are all things that can wait. I’m not saying that we should be on the phone all day every day. In fact, I take a hiatus for a couple hours each day. But, if I am truly not actually occupied, I answer. It is good for both of us. It increases social interaction, often lifts spirits and may even give a good laugh. It is good to relate to others and is it going to set back my day a ton? Probably not. As I heard in a podcast this weekend, meeting someone for coffee takes 15 minutes. Are you really too busy?
Truth is, our to-do list is constantly evolving. We will never have it 100 percent completed and we should not spend our days worrying about it. We are only here once. We only get today one time. We will never have it again. So ask yourself why you do the things you do and how you can spend your days being happy and present for yourself and those around you.