Do you wake up with a tired heart and soul?
Or is your brain racing – the minute the alarm clock goes off – with your huge to do list?
You’re not alone. Life can be hard and exhausting. Work, family and obligations can fill our day with a million tasks – and not enough joy. By the end of the day, sometimes we only have enough energy to watch television and or surf the Internet. We all have experienced the times it feels like trying to pull a bucket of joy from an empty well.
What if some small changes can make a big difference? A few new habits can take some of the stress out of your life. Here are some simple things to do that could help! Try one at a time for a while, until it becomes a habit.
- Be grateful. I do something really simple. Each night, I jot down five things that I am grateful for (or make a mental list!). As I fall asleep, I take a slow deep breath in, and think about the first thing on my list. As Iexhale, I think about how it brought me joy. I continue with the rest of the list. And then go back to the beginning of the list and do it again. One night, when my husband had a bad cold and was snoring, I made him all five of my “things to be grateful for.” Suddenly his snoring was a joy, because it meant he was next to me. Gratitude changes your perspective!
- Meditation isn’t complicated. Take two minutes several times throughout your day. Shut the rest of the world out, close your eyes and focus on your breath. Feel your lungs fill as you breath in through your nose slowly to a count of eight. Hold your breath and count to four. Then slowly exhale to a count of eight again. Meditating slows down your body, and helps you see things more clearly.
- Observe and acknowledge your thoughts. Throughout your day, negative thoughts will creep in, and that’s okay. Let them. Say hi. Observe thoughts for what they really are – just your perspective at a moment in time. Just because you think something, doesn’t mean it’s true. Use this opportunity to listen to how you speak to yourself. Would you talk to your best friend the way you talk to yourself?
- Name your emotions. Okay, don’t name them Fred, but identify what they really are. Emotions can be like waves: one minute they are quiet and another they are bigger, than everything around you and you feel like you are drowning in them. Guess what? That’s normal! What if you named the emotions that were overwhelming you? What happens when you say “I feel sad because… my parent is aging, my child is sick, my work isn’t going as I planned…”? Suddenly, sadness makes sense. It’s okay to be sad, mad, scared or lonely. When we resist our emotions or pretend they’re not real, they get stronger and bring stress into our lives.
- Be kind to yourself. When is the last time you gave yourself a compliment? Did you really mean it or was it a half-hearted attempt to make yourself smile in the mirror? Once a day, take one minute to sit quietly. Close your eyes and put your hand on your heart. Compliment yourself, truly, honestly and with your whole heart. Now, here’s the tricky part; accept your own compliment! How does that feel? What would happen if you did that more often?
Every day is a new day. It could just another day in your life, or it could be one filled with gratitude, joy and awe. Which do you want?