Photography by Ingrid Schroder.
I’m all up for seeking inspiration and soaking up all of the amazing offerings that are out there, but today I’m going in; I’m keeping it simple, and I’m taking my own advice.
Thirteen simple steps to sanity (and maybe even happiness) is what I’m going for here.
Instead of looking for some inspiration in angel cards, or in someone else’s yoga class, instead of pulling it from the tucks and folds of the never-ending flux and flow of the ocean or some other gem of the universe, today, I’m taking a leap of faith, and hoping that I’ll know just what to do.
When I woke up to find the thick sense of overwhelm just hovering there around me, I wasn’t sure I could ward off giving in. I felt baaaaaaad. Exhausted. Over it— “it” being, well, everything. My week of 5:30 a.m. toddler wake ups was killing me. I felt saturated; I felt like I was drowning, like everything I needed to achieve was completely out of my control.
Ugh, I hate that feeling—so familiar, and oh so ferociously friendly, but there was no way I was falling into that trap—no way I was going to be convinced or seduced or persuaded into the arms of that anxiety-laced and fear-ridden feeling of being overwhelmed.
I had some notes I’d made to myself after moving through a big period of overwhelm a while back, so I decided it was time to have a little looksy and take my own advice.
And it went a lil’ somethin’ like this:
Undeterred by the amount of sleep you soaked up, the fact that your back may be killing, your neck cramping, your head pounding, your heart just dreading the day ahead of you, consciously decide that today is going to be a good day. Because you said so, and because ultimately, it’s you who gets to decide how to label your experiences.
You can’t choose what happens to you, but you can choose how to react to it.
It’s easy to slide in to powerless mode, so take a moment to remind yourself that attitude and intention pave the path for the rest of your day. So, why not choose to begin yours consciously? It may just be time to wake up.
2. Now that you’ve pried yourself from the hands of heaven, the next step to feeling on top of your shit is to make that bed.
Yes, now. Before you have coffee, before you walk the dog, before you shower.
Regardless of the mood flavoring your wake up, regardless of a bad sleep, an accidental sleep in, or hardly any sleep at all, make your bed—doing so will never make you feel worse. Just get the sheets anddooner on there. It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just needs to be done. That one minute you spend making your bed will not only give you oodles of mental space, but it will actively create a crisp, clean start to your day.
Whether you’re a stay at home mum, a lawyer, a DJ, an artist, or serving up fries at Micky Dee’s, you’re day deserves a fresh start!
3. Time for a treat.
Nothing like something from your favorites list to soothe the blow of waking up to whip your ass into feel-good mode! So go ahead, devour your favorite “breaky,” sip a naughty coffee, and put on your most cozy of cozy pants to start your day. Make yourself excited to be awake. Take your time. Have a long shower. Wash your hair. Scrub your face, use a fresh towel, your “special” face cream, your most beautiful body oil or perfume.
Stop skimping out on yourself!
Stop waiting for a “better day,” “more time,” or a “more important moment” to enjoy all the little pleasures you already have surrounding you—start enjoying your life now!
4. Grab your favorite pen and notebook, and make yourself a to do list.
Our brains can get pretty cramped up and crowded, making it a tiny bit tricky to find all the little mental notes we’ve scattered about, so instead, get those thoughts out onto the page and map out your week. Organize your time so that it works for you, making sure that you can get everything you need to get done, done.
Even if you feel resistant to making lists, do it anyways. The act of emptying out your to do’s is guaranteed to clear you out, inspire you up, and space up any business rattling around in your mind. There’s just something about seeing your week laid out and knowing that you’ve allocated specific time to get the things that need to get done, done, that makes you feel in control. After all, it is you, and no one else, who designs your time.
So sit yourself down. Make your list. Break every big task that’s freaking you out and throwing you into shock-stuck-static zone down into its smaller components. Make it easier on yourself. Make things manageable and achievable, because it’s pretty hard to motivate yourself when you feel defeated before you’ve even begun.
5. Do something off your list.
Start with a few small chores (little chores feel good too), and then move on to the big ones, the daunting ones, the one’s you’ve been dreading and dancing and darting around. And when you come up against those feelings of overwhelm, the ones that normally consume you and convince you that whatever you’ve been avaoiding doing can wait another day, remind yourself that what you resist most reaps the biggest rewards when done.
Whether it’s work, groceries, the dishes, cleaning the toilet, waiting in line, mowing the lawn, raising a child, serving up coffee…shake up your perspective and decide to relish in the good of today’s to do’s.
Whatever is happening right now is your life, so you may as well love it, or at least like it.
Cleaning isn’t as bad when you think about it as cleansing and creating space and spreading your heart out into your home. Tidying up and doing the gardening and filling the fridge and making the bed aren’t as mundane when you remind yourself of the fact that you do it because you are creating a homey, cozy space that you can relax and feel good in. When you start to notice the little beauties embedded and engraved into your every day tasks, you begin to find the extraordinary within the ordinary. It isn’t complicated; all you have to do is simply open your eyes.
7. Slow down! Ask yourself, do you really need to rush?
What are you hurrying towards anyway?
What is it that could be worth rushing through your life for?
We miss the good, we miss the beauty, we miss the sweet smells and the sweet smiles and the overall sweetness of life when we rush through it. All the jewels go unnoticed when they’re whirling by in your peripheral vision, nothing getting the gift of your full attention. We’re always rushing to what’s next, looking for the next good quote, the next amazing photo, the next Facebook post, the next blog, the next pose we’ll master, our next home, next car—we rush towards, and usually into, our next relationship.
We’re constantly searching for more without ever fully acknowledging what is.
8. Smile, and mean it.
Smiling takes the edge off, and let’s face it, it takes a lot of extra effort to be pissed off when you’re smiling.
Choose lightness and rock that beautiful smile. Your own day may not be the only one you make.
9. Do something nice for someone else without expecting anything in return.
Open a door, carry someone’s groceries, share your fresh bread, give a friend a lift, leave a little love note, a little snack, a homemade card.
You can make a difference, so why not show some love?!
(The act doesn’t have to be monumental or cost $100 to make someone’s day; it’s the little things…)
Seems ridiculous that we have to remind ourselves to do the one thing that keeps us alive doesn’t it? But realistically, how often to you think you really deeply, fully breathe? And, in contrast, how often do you find yourself holding your breath? How often is your breath speedy, sharp or short?
Exactly my point.
Breathing deeply is an instant de-stresser, a chiller-outer, a calmer-downer. It’s an emotion-shifter, a focus and energy-maker, an endorphin-releaser, and a toxin-taker.
So take a deep breath and milk that shit.
Photo: Somebody-Out There
11: Get outside.
Take a walk. Rake some leaves. Wash your car. Plant some flowers. Pick a bouquet.
Wake up and shake up and light up your day.
Walk to work. Take your lunch break outside. Sip your coffee in the sun, draft your blog by the ocean, go for a bike ride or a joyride, or a moonlit walk—just get outside. Arch and stretch and unwind and melt your body on your mat in the crisp morning sun. Hang your laundry out on the line. Take late afternoon strolls. Window shop. Go for a run.
Air yourself out, air your day out, your mind out, your heart out—just get out!
12: Move your body.
Doesn’t matter how, just move it.
Have a living room dance party, jump some rope, practice your handstands, or your forward folds, or the splits. Mow the lawn.
Be open to spontaneity.
Play hopscotch or tag or hide and go seek. Chase your kids. Chase your dog, chase your man or lady. Go for a long walk, push that pram up some hills, climb some stairs, play beach volleyball, get in the ocean, or on your bike or your board, or put on your dancing shoes, but get moving!
Exercise will always makes you feel better, and moving your body will always make you feel more alive.
13. Get some rest!
Go to bed early. Have a nap. Rest when you need it, and don’t feel bad about it.
You need to rest—yes, you!
We all do. Funny then that sleep tends to be the first gem to slip through our fingers, the first thing to take a hit when life gets tough and rough and spiky. But you know that everything is more difficult when you’re tired. So schedule it in. Make time for your sleep.
Accept that no one is able to schedule time in for you to relax and rest and re-charge but you.
Put it on your to do list. Slot it in instead of just waiting for it to spontaneously happen.
Life is never going to slow down or become less busy, so if you want to stay healthy and avoid burning out, you need to start carving out time for resting and refueling and recharing.
Being tired more than sucks. So choose to get enough sleep.
Remind yourself that being well rested paints everything in a brighter shade of light. Remind yourself that you can’t possibly continue to live your life well, and offer, and love and be calm and grounded and centered if you’re running your tank on empty!
So, it’s simple: take care of yourself, because you can.
It doesn’t have to be difficult, time-consuming or complicated.
Transformation doesn’t always require huge, mind-blowing shifts, and the changes we make don’t have to be extravagant or extra hard to initiate change.
Just keep it simple, remembering it’s the little things that make life big.