Consistency is a big part of feeling good and keeping depression and anxiety at bay. I've noticed some similarities of things I'm doing each time I'm in a good place. Now I intentionally do these things every morning - okay, almost every morning; I'm not perfect - to keep me as happy, productive and clear-headed as possible.
- Write down 5 tiny things that I’m grateful for
We’ve all heard that we should have an “attitude of gratitude”; that gratitude will make our lives better and help us see that we are blessed. Well, those sayings are not wrong. I’ve tried to do a gratitude journal in the past, but would never stick with it. Besides, it’s always the same things: I’m grateful for my family, friends, a roof over my head, my job, car, bed, food…. You get the idea.
Then I tried a different approach. Truthfully, I didn’t go into it for the gratitude if I’m being honest. I had been listening to all things by Rachel Hollis that I could get my hands on. (She’s great guys, look her up!) She kept talking about this morning practice that she does called the Start Today journal. Part of the journal is listing five things that you are grateful for THAT HAPPENED IN THE LAST 24 HOURS. And the point is to NOT list the big things. No, you look for the small things, like making it to work on time when you thought you were going to be late, the color of the fall leaves, or that your niece or nephew was so excited to see you that they shouted with glee and ran into your arms. I’m talking tiny things friends. I do this practice first thing in the morning and I think back over the last 24 hours and sometimes it’s totally easy, but sometimes I have to search for good things that happened. The thing is, if you look for the good things, you will find them.
Being grateful is probably the single most impactful thing that I have done in the last six months to completely turn my mindset around.
- Make my bed
Admiral William McRaven, a retired Navy SEAL gave a speech at the University of Texas in 2015, and in that speech he said, “If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and will encourage you to do another task and another and another. At the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter… And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made. That you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better. So if you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”
Mind. Blown. When I first heard that speech, I had been making my bed for a few months, but had become lazy about it. Admiral McRaven’s words kicked me in the butt and I started to make my bed again each morning. I’m telling you, it really does make a difference. Plus, it’s pretty to look at and makes you like your room just a little bit more.
- Write down/say my affirmations
This practice is what a large part, if not the majority, of my business is based on. I have spent decades of my life silently abusing myself in my head. The words that I said to myself would be shocking to say out loud. And if I spoke those words to another person… well, let’s just say I wouldn’t be known for being even remotely kind. These were the words that the media told me that I needed to be, or what others had said to me as a child, or perceptions of what I thought others were thinking about me. Over and over again I repeated them in my mind, explaining to myself why things were happing to me.
Our brains have pathways. They are our habits, our unconscious actions. We do these actions so many times that our brain doesn’t really even need to work; it just knows what it’s supposed to do. This is what happened to me with the negative things I began telling myself at a very young age. I became almost unaware of them, but they were on constant playback.
One day I saw a post by @heytiffanyroe on Instagram that showed a list of affirmations. I saw it and thought, “I wish I believed those things about myself.” In that moment, I had the realization that I could give these affirmations a try and see if they worked. AND THEY DID! Thank heavens! I repeat/write these affirmations every day so that I can create new brain pathways that are more positive and kind to myself.
Less than a year ago, if you asked me to sit for two minutes with my breath, I would freak out. My breath would be the farthest thing from controlled and it would do the opposite of calming me. I wasn’t comfortable being with my thoughts and emotions. I wasn’t feeling. I had been numbing for so long that I didn’t know how to sit in a feeling so that it could move on. I elongated my suffering.
I started using an app called Insight Timer that let me search for what topic of meditation I wanted. I started out with body love and listened to it almost every day for a month. Even though I’m at the heaviest I’ve ever been (I’m working on it…) I started to feel more confident, to believe that I’m more than the size of my body.
Now I use meditation if I’m having a bad day or am struggling with emotions from a specific situation. It gives me a few minutes to calm down, breathe and realize that my world is not ending, and I can get through whatever is happening.
- Get ready for the day
Okay, this one is my Achilles’ heel. It’s the one I’m least consistent with, but I have seen the benefits of when I actually do it, so stick with me.
We feel like it’s important (or fun!) to get ready for an important event, right? A date, a girls’ night, or a job interview? You want to look your best to impress other people. You want to feel attractive or professional. But what about when you’re just going to work and you don’t have plans? Or it’s a Saturday and you just want to be lazy?
GET READY FOR THE DAY! Wash your face, brush your teeth, do your hair, put on some make-up (even if it’s just mascara). Why? Because you deserve to look good for you! It will help you feel good about yourself! Not to mention that getting ready wakes you up and like making your bed, helps you feel ready to attack your tasks for the day.