I’m pretty big on never letting a second of life become boring or dull. At the same time, I really don’t manage well with heaps of stress. To cope, I’ve found some ways to balance both of these while also keeping a nice perspective and remembering all the simple joys life has to offer. Here are some of the things I’ve learned to keep my mind fresh and my soul happy:
1. Play a board game. Husband and I recently started a new tradition of coming home and unwinding with board games. In a world where even games have gone electronic, it’s nostalgic and comforting to play Trivial Pursuit the old school way. Plus, having a blast competing with the boy I love most until 2 in the morning? Definitely keeps my spirits high.
2. Do something nice for a stranger. Last week at school, I found this in the girl’s bathroom.
Immediately touched and inspired by the idea, I decided to follow suit as soon as I could. Yesterday night at work was the perfect chance. I made a note, made tape out of labels we have at Starbucks, and ran to the bathroom around 8pm. I felt almost rebellious knowing that I probably shouldn’t put notes up on my mirror at work. But more than anything I was excited to make somebody smile the way I had. I especially liked the idea of posting this in a girl’s bathroom. With all the cattiness and viciousness we can bring to the table, it’s nice to change it up a bit and spread some cheer. And who knows? That note I saw in the bathroom could start a cycle of strangers making other strangers happy.
3. Be appreciative of the things strangers do for you.
“All I wanna do is to thank-you,Even though I don’t know who you are,
You let me change lanes, While I was driving in my car.”
I’m a really bad driver. I get anxious driving on the highway and getting over into another lane always about gives me a heart-attack. I always get really overly excited when someone waves me into their lane. I say “Thank-you” aloud, though they can’t hear me, and I wave my hand wildly in the air. Little things like this always give me faith in humanity and altruism. It’s not as miniscule as it seems. This person doesn’t know me. They’re probably never going to see me again. But they waved me over, in front of them, into their lane. So I could drive where I needed to be. This is a huge deal. It proves to me that we are, for the most part and despite our flaws, good-natured and kind. Never forget to let the little things remind you of this.
4. Go outside. Being cooped up is no bueno for good moods and creative outlooks. Whether it be by taking a walk, sitting on my front porch, or jogging with music in my ears; Getting a breath of fresh air and enjoying the scenery always works when I’m trying to clear my head, discover new thoughts and find my happy place.
5. Write a letter. No,not an email. An actual letter. I kept procrastinating, but last week I finally took a few minutes out of my day, got a piece of paper and wrote something to my best dude friend. I felt like I was in highschool again, writing notes. Putting it in the envelope and placing a stamp on back made me want to jump up and down in childish excitement. Though I actually just handed it to him instead of sending it, the process brought me a lot of joy and writing the letter itself reminded me of all the good times the best friend and I have had together.
6. Always let the bad remind you of the good. I’m more sick this week than I have been in years, and I’m not doing so well with this. I went to the doctor yesterday and was prescribed four different medications. I don’t have time for this nonsense. I have to go to school and work and skipping either for more than a day is not an option. I feel drained and sickly and not like myself. I hate not being in control. I could give you a list of why else I hate being this sick. Instead, I’d like to tell you why being so down and out is a good thing. Two days ago, my friend Katie sat with me for two hours at my doctor’s appointment. Yesterday, after I finished whining about having to work via text, my friend Crystal came to my job and brought me a box of fancy chocolates. When I came home I had a super-sized Twix bar waiting from the hubby. If I sit down to think about it for about 30 seconds, I always come up with a million things to be grateful for and barely any reasons to complain. A friend recently summed up the mentality I try to keep quite nicely, after she came back from a less than stellar experience at the salon. “You know life is good if all you have to complain about is a bad haircut.” Indeed.
7. Eat a grilled cheese. Unless you’re a vegan. What I’m saying is, eat something that makes you feel like a kid again. Going into the cafeteria and picking out a freshly cooked grilled cheese always makes me all giddy inside. My dad was a master grilled cheese maker growing up and it never fails to take me back to those younger years. When the biggest decision of the day was dad asking me whether I wanted ham on my sandwich or not.
8. Reminisce. I love finding memories attached to those I love. I always end up smiling, nostalgic and full of refound joy. Almost as if I’m living in that moment once again. Today I had a little spare time and randomly decided to peruse through my old Myspace messages. After a while, I found one from May the 4th, 2008. The first message I’ve ever received from my husband, and only a few days after first meeting him. My heart skipped a beat in the short time I waited for it to load. The message was short and sweet and read “Whats up spelling bee? how you feeling?” I had to call husband to remember where the nickname came from. Apparently I had been bragging to the dude all night that, when intoxicated, I could spell anything. It’s crazy to me to think all we’ve been through since that casual message almost three years ago. Really puts things in perspective knowing that he wasn’t always someone to come home to or share ‘I love you’s’ and secrets and life with. Really makes me a happy girl knowing that he is now.
9. Ask yourself, “Why does this matter?” Obviously we don’t react to something or someone unless we care or an impression has been made. My question is, why? Before letting anything–or anybody– get to you, ask yourself whether it’s really that big of a deal. It’s so simple, but usually does the trick for me. Is the dog eating my shoe going to matter in a year? Is this fight with my husband really going to keep me from loving him tomorrow? Before giving any reaction, just remember to wonder whether it’s actually worth taking time out of your day for. You’ll usually end up laughing out loud at yourself and realizing, it’s really not.
10. Just breathe. Yesterday in my Group Dynamics class, my professor had the whole class do something I at first thought was rather odd for an upper classmen communication course. In the last five minutes, she had us all lay down on the floor. As peaceful music played, she took us through various meditative techniques, from tensing muscles to just breathing. At first there were some nervous giggles and a little sense of perplexity in the room. But about 30 seconds in, it was as if you could feel the tension easing throughout the whole classroom. My stresses were dissipating and the deep breaths put me in an almost trance. I wasn’t alone. When the five minutes were over, many of us had loopy smiles on our faces and the entire room seemed so much more at ease. Before work that day, I came home and found similar music online and just lay on my couch, calm and happy. I realized then that,unless sleeping, I rarely give myself time to let my millions of thoughts stop and just briefly put the world on pause. To just breathe.