On Monday I mentioned I’m focusing a little extra on wellness for the month of August. I always like to try to be healthy and well balanced but I am attempting to use August as a happy little refresh for my mind and body. Summer naturally puts me in a good mood so I am more likely to see my goals through and less likely to fall into a rut of feeling sorry for myself and giving up. I can’t be the only one who has a bad day and reaches for a giant bowl of ice cream (or new pair of shoes)!
I’ve been really overwhelmed by the happiness of the ordinary. It’s easy to float through life constantly seeking the next endorphin rush or exciting adventure. I love new experiences and I have no problem with anyone who seeks them out (I do too)! Yet, I think there is something to be said for pausing, taking a deep breath and appreciating all of the little things around you (some of which are actually big things).
I think back to when I first moved to Seattle. I had just finished my sophomore year of college and was desperate to live in the city even if it meant transferring schools and leaving behind my sorority. Living in my first teeny tiny studio apartment I remember dreaming about so many ordinary luxuries. I wanted a more spacious apartment (oh how I dreamed of having a separate office), I wanted to be able to afford to buy all my groceries at Whole Foods (ha!), I wanted a pretty bedspread from Anthropolgie, and I wanted to reach for a knife to cut my vegetables without realizing the ONE I owned was dirty. Most of all I wanted my space to feel like home, not a dorm, but a home.
My apartment now is far from perfect. There isn’t much natural light (ugh), we have a non stop untreatable ant issue (ew) and the neighborhood I live in isn’t the most posh or hip part of the city. Yet, sometimes half way through doing the dishes I find myself so overwhelmed with gratitude for all the little luxuries in this space I call home.
I am so grateful for a refrigerator filled with fruits and vegetables and a boyfriend who will try all the recipes I try (and fail at) and better yet will cook delicious meals for me. I’m so thankful for that second bedroom I wanted as an office/walk in closet, and for that colorfully quilted bedspread from Anthropologie. I still can’t get over the fact that I really have a juicer and a blender and most days I can’t freaking decide which one to use. It’s too fun to even care that both are so annoying to clean! So much of what I am grateful for is ordinary but its these little pieces (in conjunction with Jordan and Pierre) that make my little space feel like home.
In June I read Gretchen Rubin’s “Happier at Home” and I conciously realized how much of me has yearned for a home I could sink into and love. I have NO INTENTION of living in this apartment forever and I still haven’t stopped dreaming of a space with more natural light and wood floors and hopefully without an infestation of ants. Yet, I am oh so happy, overwhelmingly thankful and I truly believe part of wellness is ceasing the moment and expressing gratitude for it. THANK YOU UNIVERSE FOR ALL THESE LITTLE PIECES OF HAPPINESS!
If you aren’t feeling overjoyed with your life, even if you’re not sad, even if you’re just a little blasé, I want to encourage you to look for teeny tiny life altering ways to make yourself happier each day. I say this not to be the annoyingly optimistic person but because I’ve been there. I’ve felt bad about my body, I’ve felt bitter about unfair situations, I’ve felt frustrated with dating and lonely and disheartened. I’ve been there and I know even little bits of happiness can go a long way.
10 Little Changes to Improve your sense of Wellness
1. Wake up an hour early and get your endorphins pumping. If working out sounds like death…just take a walk (even if that walk is a walk to the local doughnut shop for a morning goody). Your body will thank you for the movement and you’ll more alert throughout the day.
2. Pack lunch for your significant other/roommate/etc. and write a cute note to go along with it! Sometimes making someone else’s day is enough to put you in a good mood. Writing a sweet note forces you to think about someone you care about and naturally is bound to make you happy.
3. Take 5 minutes in the middle of your day to close your eyes and meditate. Focus on relaxing each nerve in your body and you breathe deeply and clear your mind. I’m not a regular meditator but the incidences I have tested meditation have proven to me that the practice is meaningful.
4. Skip that second (or third) latte and opt for a healthier option like tea or kombucha or water. As a coffee addict I admit I reach for coffee sometimes out of habit more than necessity. Prevent mid day jitters and panic attacks by satisfying your craving with less caffeine.
5. Turn on Netflix or a Podcast in the background and do something productive. Clean the kitchen! Reorganize your closet! Go through our overflowing bookshelves and decide what to give to Goodwill. These sort of tasks don’t seem like fun initially but as you gain momentum it feels rewarding to accomplish a dreaded chore.
6. Try a new recipe focusing on filling your plate with whole, healthy, natural foods. I am the first one to admit on a night home alone it’s my instinct to reach for tortellini and alfredo sauce followed by a generous serving of Ben & Jerry’s “Phish Food” BUT I am so much happier (not to mention more stimulated) when I search for a new healthy recipe to test. Maybe it will flop and you can fall back on a frozen burrito or maybe you’ll discover a new favorite healthy dinner.
7. Meet your friend for a “happy hour” that doesn’t center around drinks. I’m definitely not anti alcohol but at the end of the day alcohol is a depressant (even if it doesn’t make you depressed) and it’s refreshing to do something fun without adding extra toxins to your body. Try a new workout class, have a picnic, paint pottery or even bake together!
8. On your way home stop at a local grocery store and buy yourself a bouquet of flowers, a magazine and/or a new nail polish color. Treating yourself doesn’t have to be expensive, little luxuries really can brighten up your day.
9. Open a new notebook and begin an “Adventure Journal”. Use it as a combination of a diary and a scrapbook and write when you feel compelled to document. Feel free to write as much or as little as you like. You can add ticket stubs or photos or maps or drawings. You can let your boyfriend or best friend or Mom co-star sometime with a guest entry or you can paste your favorite e.e. cummings poem on the first page. It doesn’t matter! Take the time to document experiences that make you happy, force you to grow or test your character.
10. Slip into clean sheets an hour before you usually do and read until you fall asleep. No social media, no Netflix or Hulu, just you and a good book. Sweet dreams!
Please feel free to share any little ways you transform a day. What are your secrets to “wellness”?