True story: Monday is one of my favorite days of the week. Everyone always looks at me like I’m insane, whenever I mention this. I get that.
Admittedly, I was once one of those people who lived for their weekends. I’d run on an autopilot mode during the week- literally. I’d get in my car, drive to work and think, as I pulled into the parking lot, “how did I get here already?”. All I thought about was that getting through this day, will get me closer to the weekend. Thing was, my weekends weren’t all that exciting, either. Still, I’d always count down the days and long for that time on Friday afternoon, when I log off my work computer and head home.
Well, I’ve realized that it wasn’t my work that I was dreading and it wasn’t my work that was leaving me feeling exhausted. My habits, the things that I did every single day, were leaving me feeling stuck and overwhelmed.
I used to take the smallest of things personally, I worried about everything going wrong, I had trouble falling asleep at night because my anxious mind wouldn’t let me relax. As a result, I never got enough sleep, I drank too much coffee, that, in turn would make me feel even more anxious.
Gratitude and mindfulness; those are the things that changed my life.
I mean, okay. As a kid, I was told all the time: “remember to say Thank You!“. I never thought of myself as an ungrateful person, yet I showed my lack of gratitude every single day.
I’d complain about everything and see nothing wrong with it. I could spend an entire day nagging at my husband telling him that he works too much, instead of cherishing the little time we had to spend together.
But you know, I still considered myself to be very grateful, just so we’re clear.
There’s this amazing shift that happens once you start practicing mindfulness. You notice things you never noticed before. You’re more focused, less stressed, you appreciate everything that’s around you.
Once you uncover the power of gratitude and mindfulness, your days, the way you see everything, will start to change.
Next thing on the list of my life-changing habits? Self-care.
It’s not a luxury; it’s a necessity.
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR MORNINGS
I’ve developed a special bond with my early mornings and I wouldn’t give them up for anything- not even for an extra hour of sleep. No, I wasn’t born a morning person. In fact, up until a few years ago, I was a night owl and my days often ended at 3 o’clock in the morning. These days, I’m usually in bed by 10 pm and up by 5 am and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
How can becoming an early riser help you?
If you’re constantly busy and don’t have a lot of time for yourself- get up early and take a long, relaxing bath.
Early in the morning, before work?
Well, why not? A hot bath, a good cup of coffee, a good podcast or a few chapters of a book; these are all things that most of us, busy, working people would call “a treat”. I’m a workaholic who also believes in the power of slow-living and self-care. While I don’t necessarily believe that you can “have it all” I do think that achieving a certain harmony in life is within everyone’s reach (really trying to avoid the word “balance” here, because I can’t stand it).
And hey, if a hot bath isn’t your thing (or you don’t have a tub) go for a run. See the sunrise. Make an epic breakfast. Write in your gratitude journal. Get a good workout in. Do your laundry or prep your dinner so your evening can be a bit more chill. I personally love having a cup of tea and sitting down to write, just as the sun comes up. Sometimes a single post takes me hours (or days) to finish, so as someone who also works full-time, my mornings are precious to me and I have to take advantage of them. Early morning is also the time when I’m usually most productive.
Do something that makes you feel good. Have something to look forward to, every single morning. Change your mornings, change your life.
The more you think you don’t have time for things like meditation, the more you can benefit from it. It can help you feel grounded, it centers you, calms you down, makes you feel refreshed. If your work can sometimes get stressful, if you often feel overwhelmed meditating can both lower your stress and improve your focus. I don’t know how I’d cope with those stressful days, if it wasn’t for meditation. Don’t know where to start? Try an app like Calm.
A face mask, a manicure, a massage- those are usually things you look forward to doing after a long week. Those things feel much more special and fun if you do them during the week. Most of us run a little bit on *autopilot* during the week and not everyone has time for a candle-lit 1-hour long bath. A 10-minute face mask at the end of the day, a face massage, a foot-soak while also spending 30 minutes away from your phone is all it takes to unwind. I also love diffusing essential oils or burning my favorite candle.
GET AN EARLY START
…to your night. Seriously, is there anything better than sleep? Turn off all your electronics and get some quality Zzzs. If you can’t get to bed early, try to at least sneak in a little power nap. Napping is probably one of my favorite self-care practices, not going to lie.
I like to think of journaling as a real-life pensieve. Whenever you feel overwhelmed with your thoughts, try journaling. My very first journal was a gift from a therapist I saw back when I was in High School and I’m not exaggerating when I say that it can be life-changing. It certainly changed my life and the way I see myself.
When you have 100 different things running through your head, it can be difficult to concentrate on a single thought. BUT when you sit down and take the time to write down your thoughts, feelings or ideas, you can’t help but focus on that single thought. You can’t help but pay attention. You can learn so much about yourself. You discover all these feelings, fears or ideas, dreams you never realized you had. If you don’t where to start with journaling, you can search for some prompts on self-reflection and discovery.
Taking care of yourself or “pampering” isn’t all about eating healthy or using a face mask or taking a long bath. Taking care of your mental wellbeing is even more important and it isn’t something that you should be doing only during your weekends.
Why not grab a dinner with a friend on a Tuesday or a Wednesday? Why not have a movie night with your SO?
Your life “happens” during the week, too. And, if your 9-5 leaves you feeling drained and exhausted (and not in that “it was such an exhausting but a productive and satisfying day!” way) then maybe it’s a sign that it’s time to think about a bigger change (and in case you’re looking for it: *this is a sign*).