When you ask someone how they're doing, or how life is going, or how they've been, 9 times out of ten the answer will be 'busy'. The world has gotten faster, and busier - and seemingly, unhappier. Many of us work 8-5 (if not more), to be able to afford to maintain a lifestyle that we don't even have time to enjoy.
Fortunately, there are numerous things we can do, on a regular basis, to ensure that we do invest in ourselves beyond just making sure we're professionally successful. I thought to write about a select few that I try and keep up with, and others that I am starting, and I hope to be able to feature others' at some point too.
No surprises here that I write, often. I write on this blog, I write (real) letters to friends (and yes, I do use a fountain pen similar to the one above), I write to myself. If I'm having a crappy day, or trying to make a difficult decision, it wouldn't be too uncommon to find me grabbing the nearest piece of paper, writing down what I'm thinking, and then more often than not, throwing it away.
Writing is a way to deal with emotions, process your day, get some clarity. In case it wasn't clear enough already, I highly recommend trying it out!
2) Working out
The longer I go without working out, the grumpier I get, on average. It was a little later in life than I should have learnt this, but once I realised that working out regularly keeps me sane, happy and healthy, I've been trying to do it as often as I can.
And no, it's not just me! There are numerous studies out there that have proven the multiple benefits of exercise.
3) Attitude of gratitude
I was listening to a podcast the other day (yes, that's a thing I do nowadays) that talked about the importance of practicing gratitude. The speaker argued that without knowing how to be grateful for what we have, we'll never truly be happy. We'll keep wanting more, but when we get that 'more', we won't know how to appreciate it.
We look at happiness as something that's on the other side of a finish line - but when we get there, the finish line just gets further away. How did we forget that happiness is really found along the way?
I've been working on cultivating this attitude - and I'll admit, it's not as easy as I thought it would be! Two things have helped - meditation, and my '+ jar'. The latter is a glass jar that I've had for many months. When I remember to, I write down positive things that have happened to me, things I'm grateful for, and put them into the jar. These have ranged from 'I got the new job!' to 'I just had a great pizza!'. No surprises at the last one, I'm sure.
Anyone else tried other ways to cultivate this attitude? Please do share! And for those of you who're interested in starting +jars of your own, I'm happy to be an accountability partner.
4) Treating yourself
You know what? If no one's told you this before, I'm happy to be the first. It's okay to treat yourself every so often. Another podcast I was listening to talked about how we motivate ourselves. Sometimes, we tell ourselves 'I'll buy myself this and that once I've achieved this or the other' - a reward system. Sometimes, we say we'll buy ourselves what we want just because!
The speaker argues (and I agree) that it's okay to treat yourself once in a while without having the pressure of having to 'earn it'.
Personally, massages are an indulgence I like to partake in regularly. In fact, I went for one just yesterday, just because - and it was great.
5) Time alone
I forget how many times I've preached about the benefits of time alone. Whether you're always working around people, you live with your family, you're married, you have kids - whoever you are, being able to spend meaningful time alone, and doing so, are beneficial to your growth, your happiness, and your independence. Whatever form this takes (see 12 below), I encourage you to try it.
6) Time with friends and family
That being said, don't forget to spend time with friends and family too! Saturday night, my mum, my sister and I curled up in a room to watch a movie together - that same day, I'd spent some quality time with my pups. And tonight, I'm planning on having a wine date with my best friend.
Personally, after working a crazy week, I find it all too easy to spend the weekend in and around my bed, so getting time with my loved ones like this is always nice.
7) Time outdoors
Sunlight, fresh air, blah blah blah - turns out that all those things are actually good for you! I've made no secret of my frustration with how quickly Nairobi is developing upward, so I try and find at least a few minutes a day to step outside, away from the concrete (or as away as I can get...), and just breathe. Weird how just those few minutes can leave me feeling refreshed!
8) Drinking plenty of water
I'm not quite sure what it is about this one that makes me feel better - but I have noticed a marked difference in myself from the days I drink plenty of water to the days I don't. Anyone else?
Being able to be present where I am and appreciate all around me is great - but sometimes, so is being able to immerse myself in others' experiences and learn from them.
The 'J' in me (MBTI for those of you who're wondering) has actually made two spreadsheets (fiction and non fiction) to keep up with books I've read and want to read. I recently finished all the Harry Potters again, and really enjoyed them!
Funny YouTube videos. Friends being funny. Pets being silly. Little moments of joy. Laughter is such an important, yet underrated, part of our lives! Try it for yourself and see just how laughing (or smiling more) can do wonders.
11) A well deserved glass of wine
'Wait, doesn't this count as treating yourself?' I can almost hear some of you asking. Those of you who know me will know exactly why, for me, wine is in a category of its own!
There's nothing like sitting down at the end of a long week with a glass (or more) of wine that really signals to my brain that it's time to unwind.
I'm also always on the lookout for new wines to try - you can follow along on my personal Instagram account!
Sometimes, you just need to get away! Last year, my sister and I went to Diani in July. In December, I went to visit family in the U.S.
Not sure what I'm planning before that, but this December, I decided it's finally time to visit my best friends after three years away! You can bet that I'm looking forward to that one desperately!
What are some wellness rituals you follow? I'd love to hear more!