Move Your Body
Move your body. It sounds so simple. That being stated, I don’t know that we give it the credit that it deserves. It is seriously a game-changer!!! If you already have a movement practice in place, this step is much easier. I have been a runner for almost 2 decades, so getting out and going for a run works for me. It is simple. I like it. I know that it works, but recently, I have found myself joining workouts on Zoom because I need the social interaction. The new workouts also makes my brain and body work in a new way, and the new challenges are a wonderful distraction from all of the stressors in life. However, if you don’t already move your body, this could be a good time to try a new activity. There are so many options. You could dance. You could try yoga. If you live near water, try renting a kayak or a paddleboard. Simply going for a walk or a hike is a wonderful way to move your body too. Whatever you have to do to get out there and to move, please try it; your brain and body will thank you.
If this sounds a little wo-wo, I get it. Before I started, it sounded super wo-wo to me too. I was also terrible at meditation when I first began. I remember that my mom encouraged me to do it when I was going through a tough time a few years ago. I went to a beach, found a comfortable spot, where no one was in sight, and I set my timer for 5 minutes. If I could run for 5 hours, I could surely sit for 5 minutes, right? WRONG! I squirmed around and finally gave up after about 2 and a half minutes. I could not sit still for more than 3 minutes. What was wrong with me? The answer is, nothing. Nothing was wrong with me. I just needed to practice. It did not take long for me to find that I really enjoyed guided mediation, and I found a couple of apps that helped me to get started. The first one I used was Head Space. I used it for almost a year, and I enjoyed it. I have shifted to using the Calm app, and it is currently my daily go-to. There are many options out there. You can find them online, on YouTube, on podcast, or you can simply set a timer and find relaxing music. It becomes YOUR time, so give yourself a break if you are unable to sit still for more than 5 minutes. Just know that with a little practice, you will get better.
I have been journaling off and on for years. When I journal, I am more creative, more calm, and I love to just get it all out. It is a safe place where you can say anything with no judgement. I seldom go back and read what I have written because the goal is that I don’t judge myself either. There are a few options when journaling. Sometimes you need to free write. This means just write, write, write. I love to set a timer for my free write sessions. The longer the timer, the deeper I get. I find that it is therapeutic to get into deeper writing sessions, and it has become helpful during times of isolation. It lets me have access to “someone to talk to” when I am able to get the social interaction that I usually get. Another way to journal is to write just 3 things. If you take the time to write 3 things you are grateful for, your life will change. It won’t change over night, but adding gratitude to your journaling practice is a powerful tool during challenging times. 2 additional tips here are: First, don’t worry about spelling and grammar. Just write. Second, find a journal and pen that you actually enjoy using. The size and feel may make a difference if you show up to use it or not.
Whether you choose to read for a few minutes, listen to a podcast, or listen to an Audible book, the opportunities to learn are endless. Find a few minutes to take in something new. Some people take this up 50,000 notches and learn new languages or intricate subjects. I have tried learning a new language a few times, and it never sticks. I may or may not try that again. Find something that you are actually interested in learning about, and dive in. This becomes even more fun when there are no expectations from it. It may be something you actually use in life, or it may be just additional knowledge that enables you to connect with someone some day. Taking a few minutes to work your brain in a different way is a wonderful way to add in something positive into your life.
Do Something for Someone Else
This is the biggie, and it doesn’t have to be big at all. Simple gestures are powerful. This is the letter you take time to write someone. This is the phone call you make to check in on someone. This is 2 hours of volunteer work that you do. This is taking care of your neighbor’s kids for a couple of hours so she can go do something for herself. This is picking up groceries for someone who is unable to or challenged by it. This is supporting a friend’s business. This is mowing your neighbor’s lawn as you are about to finish your own. You think that you are making someone else’s day, but the reality is: your day will be so much brighter when you take the time to help someone else, so I encourage you to get creative and try it.
To Wrap Things Up
I don’t do all of these things every day. Some days, I meditate 3 times, and I don’t learn a thing. Sometimes I learn while I move, and I don’t do anything for anyone else. Somedays, I journal pages and pages, and somedays, I pick up my journal with hopes of writing just 3 things, and I never open it. Somedays, I do all the things, and I feel super good. If you are already doing these things, do them with more intention, and share them with a friend. If you don’t do any of these things, I encourage you to try just one. See how it feels. These 5 tips may not help, or they may change your life. All I know is that I have been doing them for years, and I know my life is better and richer because of them.
Good luck, and have some fun with them. Let me know if any of them work for you.