We’ve all been there before. That feeling of not quite being where we want to be in our lives. We could be so close to something great, but we have that nagging feeling as though something is missing.
When I noticed this, I decided to take a look at my life and what areas were lacking. What wasn’t I doing that I could be doing? Why did I continually have this feeling even though I had no real problems in my life?
Over the past few months, I have started incorporating several new habits in my day-to-day life. Habits that have forced me to slow down and really assess what it is that I need in a given time. Habits that allow me to do some soul-searching and find what it is that I am passionate about. Habits that protect me from overworking myself in a direction I do not want to go.
These daily habits have allowed me to feel more grounded and confident in my own life. I feel as though my free-time belongs to me, and I am comfortable exploring ways to make myself feel good on a day-to-day basis. I also have gained the practice of setting boundaries in my own life, to be able to protect my energy and spare time. My friends and family have noticed changes in how I structure my time, in addition to how I carry myself.
Below is a list of things I started incorporating into my daily life. If anything I’ve said so far has resonated with you, I suggest trying at least one of the things on the list. You don’t have to incorporate them all at once, actually, it’s probably better if you try one or two at a time. Then, once you notice your life slowly changing from incorporating those one or two things you can add another one, and another one.
1. Practicing daily gratitude
I do this every morning before getting out of bed. I name 3 things that I am truly grateful for in my life (different things every day). Some examples are my loving, supporting family, having a roof over my head, the ability to breathe clean fresh air.
Really practice appreciating these things, as they add value to your life. Expressing gratitude increases the positive emotions we experience. If you are still unsure of how to express gratitude or the benefits you will reap, I suggest a five-minute internet search to immerse yourself into the culture of displaying daily gratitude and why you should!
2. Read for 15 minutes every day
When I was a student, I often didn’t have time for ‘pleasure reading’, that is, reading books outside of the assigned readings. Often, the assigned readings would take up way too much time, and I set aside reading for holidays and time off school.
Now that I have graduated, I have incorporated 15 minutes of reading into each day and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. Theres something so satisfying about being lost in a good book. I allot 15 minutes per day, but sometimes easily exceed 15 minutes and that’s okay! Use the 15 minutes as a starting point, and if your schedule allows, by all means read for longer!
Some of my favourite types of books to read are romance, poetry, autobiographies and biographies and personal development!
3. Drink more water
I know, this is the most mundane suggestion you’ve ever heard, but I seriously cannot stress enough how drinking water is vital. I will not bore you on the statistics of why drinking water is beneficial to your body, nor will I recommend a set amount as everyone’s individual needs differ (depending on body height, weight, activity level etc). However, I will tell you that you are missing out on being hydrated.
Increased mental alertness was the biggest change I noticed. I no longer needed several coffees throughout the day. Hydrating my skin from the inside (as opposed to slathering it with products and hoping they would seep deep enough) is the absolute best feeling on dry winter days.
I started carrying around a water bottle with me everywhere I went so that I always had access to water (I have several all measuring different volumes – size only determines how many times I will refill that bottle throughout the day). My best advice is to pick a size that’s convenient for you and set it right in front of you or directly beside you as an incentive to drink more.
4. Making yourself a nice breakfast at least once a week
In all fairness, on days I have to be up early for work I really don’t feel the motivation to make myself a full on drool-worthy breakfast. However, on days that I don’t work, I make it a point to make myself a delicious breakfast.
Whether you’re a toast and eggs kind of person or an artisanal oatmeal creator, make it a point of making yourself a delicious, jump-out-of-bed-for breakfast at least once a week. More often if you can. Not only does eating breakfast come with a slew of health benefits, but I find that making yourself a delicious breakfast makes you want to get out of bed. Planning for it the night before provides that extra incentive to get up and make it once your alarm goes off. Love your body and nourish it through a hearty first meal of the day.
5. Try grounding at least once a day
Full disclosure: I am an over-thinker. My brain is hardwired to over-think every possible aspect. Sometimes, when I let my mind get away from me, it’s hard to pull myself back into the moment. This can be particularly difficult when you are doing a task that requires you to be present and in the moment.
There are several different techniques for grounding oneself, but I personally use the 54321 technique (not my own, available on the internet if you are curious for more information).
5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
I use this technique at least once a day, usually more, to ground myself and bring myself back into the present moment. We need to remember we do not reside in the past or the future, but in the present moment.
6. Compliment yourself
Do you like your outfit today? How your hair is styled? A meal you made? How you handled a situation well at work or school?
Complimenting yourself on something about yourself or a task you completed is recognizing for something you did well. It builds your self-esteem and allows positive emotions about your work habits and daily tasks to flow. Building a better relationship with yourself sets yourself up for success.
We often have days where we feel like we can’t get anything done in time or done right for that matter. I encourage you to stop at least once throughout the day and compliment yourself on one aspect. Maybe you helped someone else, or did something no one else noticed. Compliment yourself! Because I guarantee if you feel like you did nothing right all day, you can look deeper and find one thing to compliment yourself on!
7. Tidy your sleeping space daily
There is nothing more satisfying than having a tidy bedroom before going to sleep. Free of clutter and debris. We know this already because we often sleep better once our sleeping spaces are tidy, well, at least I do.
So we know this, but we often don’t practice it! Make a habit to tidy your sleeping space (a.k.a. the bedroom) once a day, preferably in the few hours prior to bedtime. Small bonus of daily tidying your bedroom usually means you have to minimal if any cleaning if it is constantly maintained!
8. Unplug before bed
Half an hour to one hour before bed I started unplugging from my computer, TV and phone. I plug in my phone across the room to avoid temptation (the only thing I’m getting out of my cozy bed for is to use the bathroom).
Spend five minutes on the internet and the consensus will be that you should ditch your electronics before bed. This is when I usually sneak in my 15(+) minutes of reading. Reading actually helps transition me into a more natural state of fatigue, that way, when it’s time to put the book down and turn the lights out I actually feel tired and relaxed.
9. Say no to things you aren’t interested in doing, nor have the time for
Okay, this one is HARD. I am a natural-born people pleaser and this one I still practice at every day. We’ve all been in the situation where we’ve been offered an invite to something or other (go over and see a friend, go out to do xyz, etc.). Now, honestly, how many times have you said yes to something just because you didn’t want to be rude or because it would just be easier if you tagged along?
I can count thousands of times I didn’t really want to attend some event or other, but said yes out of guilt or pestering from a friend (will address this in an upcoming blog post). And I didn’t really want to go! Then, usually, the event or evening just turns into a downward spiral of wishing you were already in bed, or wishing you hadn’t spent money on this event you didn’t even want to go to in the first place.
If an invite, event or activity does not serve your interest, nor does it fit into your financial budget or time scheduling, say no. Seriously, you will thank yourself later. The times I’ve said no and actually sat the event out due to simply not wanting to, or other reasons (financial/time constraints), I felt so much better! There is nothing fun about attending an event you don’t have the time or money for, nor the desire to go. This particular practice (I say practice as opposed to habit, because I am still learning this one myself) has improved my mental well-being in ways I cannot even describe. Doing more of the things you love really does change your outlook, and having the courage to say no to things that do not serve you is the stepping stone to doing so.
10. Sleep early
If you are a natural night owl or are able to function on small amounts of sleep and feel this in no way applies to you, feel free to skip past. Personally, I was a night owl, but mostly because I hated going to sleep for fear I would be wasting the day or missing something (fear of missing out at it’s finest). But realistically, regardless of how much time I thought I was wasting or whatever I thought I was missing out on, that didn’t change my wakeup time.
Going to bed early most nights (we’re only human) has not only increased the number of hours I’m clocking on the pillow, but how I feel when I wake up. I absolutely feel it with every fibre of my being when I haven’t had enough sleep. Setting my bedtime back to 9-10 on nights before work, or when I know I’m feeling run down have significantly impacted my mental alertness throughout the day. Allowing myself those extra hours of sleep has made me realize that the only thing I was missing out on was a decent sleep!
I encourage you to challenge yourself to incorporating at least one of these habits into your daily life! Only positive things have come from me incorporating these habits, and I plan to master many more.
If you have tried to incorporate any of these habits in your day-to-day life, or have already incorporated these habits before reaching this article, let me know in the comments! If you have any other daily habits that have changed your life for the better, let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading!