My bestie Rachel and I were chatting the other day about how tumultuous this year has been. Several events over the past few months have really shaken many of us to our core. Some of us have lost loved ones, lost jobs, failed exams or ended relationships. Indeed, some of us have lost hope, and many of us are struggling to keep hope alive.
Life is not always jovial and sunshiney, and that's okay. Many of life's most challenging moments are outside of our control. That doesn't mean though, that we are helpless. We can choose to live happy, positive and healthy lives. It's not as hard as you might think. Here's what I've picked up along the way:
1. Give thanks
For EVERYTHING. For your eyes. Stop for a second and think of all the people who might not be able to read this blog post because they are visually impaired. For the roof over your head. For the internet that allows you and I to connect. For the rain that waters the earth so that we might have food. For the sun and for the clouds that give us shade. An attitude of gratitude, conscious gratitude, will awaken you to all the little miracles of life!
2. Look outside of your own needs
Feeling stressed out and overwhelmed? Why not take the day off and go volunteer at a children's home or at an animal shelter? I've found that when my life feels like it's imploding, the best thing I can do for myself is to redirect my energies towards a social cause. Even if I don't have the means to leave the house, I'll get busy right at home. I'll water the garden, clean the fridge, do everyone's laundry. Simply, just give of myself towards meeting other's needs. There's something uplifting about giving.
3. Go outside
Smell the fresh air. If you follow me on snapchat (CravingYellow) you know that my favorite thing to do is to take an evening walk. Nature is therapeutic, so I carve out time to let it heal me. I listen to the birds outside, or watch little ants as they go about their business. If I'm in the city, I'll simply sit on a step and watch humanity go about its business. Being outside enlarges my mental space. I realize, that life doesn't revolve around me. I am, after all, part of a vast vast eco-system!
4. Change up your routine
Routine and repetition can be the bane of life! Owing to the pressures of life, its easy to fall into a rut. I've found though, that making changes to my daily routine has a way of making me feel alive again. I literally snap out of zombie mode when I do little things like take a different route home or cook my chapatis differently or watch a TV show before bed! A robotic lifestyle, can be deadening. Variety is the spice of life!
I don't need a reminder to do this one! I love my sleep. Holidays for me consist of days spent lazing away in bed! That said, I've noticed that during periods of stress, I get insomnia. I'm learning though, to actively quieten down for the night when I am going through a stressful stretch. I make sure to take a warm bath, and to dim my bedroom lights. I also do breathing exercises to relax my mind. I find that once I've had 7-8 hours of sleep, I am better prepared to face the day ahead.
Get moving! Literally put your hands in the air and stretch. Bend forwards and touch your toes. Get your blood circulating! Exercise releases lots of "feel good" hormones that leave us feeling rejuvenated. You don't have to commit to a rigorous exercise routine, simply just throw on your runners, and take a 30 minute walk around your neighborhood. That's all you need! As all the oxygen gets to your organs, you'll feel lighter and more energetic.
7. Do something outside of your comfort zone
Go to India or Japan or Botswana. No seriously! Order hot spicy chicken wings. Wear a new pair of shoes. Say hi to a stranger. Do something that requires some guts and some nerve. I don't know about you, but I feel like when I gather my guts in one area of my life, I set up a domino effect in other areas of my life. Doing things outside of my comfort zone inspires confidence and adds a lightness to life! Change is good!
8. Share your struggle
Don't sit and brew on your issues for two long. Ever heard of that saying, a problem shared is a problem halved? If you are feeling like your drowning, the best thing you can do is call up a friend or talk to a sibling or confide in your favorite teacher/professor. Believe you me, sometimes hearing your own voice is therapeutic. Sharing your struggle not only helps you make better sense of it, chances are you'll feel a lot better afterwards.
9. Trust the process
It's easy to feel like we don't deserve what is happening to us. That we are too pretty, too intelligent, to well-off to be struggling. I'm learning though that life owes me everything, but at the same time life owes me nothing. None of us on this planet is above the other. Life happens to all of us. Be it love or loss, fate knows no discrimination. I'm learning though to trust that whatever life has thrown at me, I can handle. Wherever I am at the moment is where I was meant to be. I'm learning to trust that my reality is the best reality that life could have given me. I'm here on this earth to learn and to share what I have learned with others.
10. Let go
Of what life should have been. Of what your mother said to you that deeply hurt you. Of your idea of what life could have been if only your father had not left. Of that remark that she made about your weight. Let go. Release the hurt. Forgive yourself for letting yourself down at times when you could have made better decisions. Forgive yourself for falling in love with him in the first place. Let go of events that have passed. What has happened has happened. We can do little about the past. What we have though, is this very moment. We have the opportunity to make better decisions now, to care better for those that are still with us and to soak in all of life.
What steps are you taking to live your best life? I'd love to know!
Love and lots of sunshine!