There’s no shortage of advice available about what we can do to better our lives. From exercising more and watching less TV, to eating better and working less – there are easily a million things we could do every single day to feel good.
But really. Who’s got time for all that?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we should chuck our ambitions to feel healthier, live longer and do more of what we love. I’m a huge proponent of understanding what we need to live fully and going out to do those things, but let’s be real. We get busy. Priorities shift. Things change and sometimes unpredictably so and often – beyond our control.
Sometimes we don’t want to do the big things we know will make us feel better because well, we’re not really feeling up to doing them in the first place. In this case, simplicity is bliss. Doing small things to feel good makes it easier to tackle the big stuff. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting our heads back in a place where we can create the momentum to get moving on our bigger goals.
Here are 7 little things I do to make big shifts in how I feel.
1. Cut the drama. Sometimes when I’m plugging away on my MAC, working through stuff in my head, getting shit done, even sitting to meditate, my face can reflect a level of intensity that’s a wee bit dramatic. When I catch myself doing my “I’m so super busy, nobody wreck my flow” face, I crack a real, honest-to-goodness smile. There’s a science to smiling. Once smiling muscles in our face contract, there’s a positive feedback loop that kicks in and our brain reinforces feelings of joy. You can actually create happiness in a situation where you might not have been feeling too peppy and I can feel the difference instantly.
2. Pick your battles. We all have things that trigger us. When someone does or says something that I overreact to (and I know I’m overreacting because I can feel a strong, visceral emotion bubbling to the surface) I check in with myself. I ask myself if how I’m feeling is really matching the words spoken or actions taken in the situation. I can’t control what others say, how they say things or what they do. What I can control is how I react to a situation. If it ain’t worth stressing out about (as most things aren’t) then I make the choice to lighten up. We associate our own meanings to everything we come into contact with. I can pick my battles and some just aren’t worth fighting while others don’t even need to be perceived as battles at all.
3. Melt like butter. When I’m stressed out or busy, I can feel it in my body. I get a furrowed brow, my jaw gets tight and my shoulders stiffen. When I’m in the thick of things, I remind myself to imagine every little muscle in my head, jaw, neck and shoulders melting like butter. I don’t have to stop everything I’m doing or put the world on hold. I can do this while walking somewhere or before a meeting, while sitting at my desk or pouring a cup of tea. My mood changes along with the shift in my body and all of a sudden, things don’t seem so hairy anymore.
4. Conscious movement. Most of our days can be spent on auto-pilot. We get through our morning routine without giving a single thought to getting ready. We get through familiar tasks with no memory of them at all. I try to take the most mundane actions of my day – the stuff I have to do anyway – and make a conscious effort to be aware of what I’m doing. I walk barefoot around my house in the morning and notice the sensation of my feet hitting the ground and the temperature of the floor. When I’m doing tasks that are easy and can be done with little thought, I pay attention to and appreciate the details.
5. Laugh. Just like smiling, laughing is an easy thing to do. But when we’re stressed or caught up in a misunderstanding, laughing and smiling are typically on the bottom of the list of things we actually want to do. Even though that’s often when we need to the most. It always helps me to lighten up about what might otherwise feel like a tough situation and find something to laugh about instead. The ability to see things clearly and find creative solutions increases when we don’t take other things, people or ourselves too seriously.
6. Check-ins. I try to check-in with myself throughout the day. When I’m in the thick of things, I check-in to how I’m feeling and reacting to things. I find that when I’m stressed out, I often feel light-headed. My thoughts get cloudy and I don’t have the same ability to concentrate and find solutions when I’m not present to the situation. That’s when I remind myself to get grounded. If I’m sitting in a chair, I feel my body in that chair – the surface of the seat, I feel my feet on the ground and my hands on the desk or in my lap. Finding what works to get you back in the moment can do wonders to help your mind from running in circles.
7. When all else fails. I dance. Now this can get interesting when you’re working in an office or somewhere you don’t have privacy. I have no shame in admitting that I’ve busted out in a random dance move in a public washroom on more than one occasion (this woman’s got moves). And you don’t need music blasting to dance – although it definitely doesn’t hurt – the point here is to move your body. Wiggle, writhe and worm the stress out of your body, however you want to move. Your body always knows what it needs – our job is to listen kindly, trust and respond.
What small things do you do during your day to lighten the load, tune in and appreciate the day? Leave your comments below!