It's easy to get caught up in life. Between classes, work and interning there have been many times during which I've forgotten that things exist outside of school and trying to build my career. And beyond that, it's easy to lose your sense of self when you're so preoccupied doing everything. Recently, I took a class titled Women, Leadership, Policy and Power. The pre-class assignment included a series of self-reflection questions to lead you to discover, or simply articulate, "what you really want to do." I think it's important to reflect inwards and figure out what it is we truly wish to do. That doesn't necessarily mean quit your job in the pursuit of happiness, but it could e as simple as setting aside 10 minutes every day for "you time."
This year, I've been focusing on what I need to do to make myself happy and feeling content. Happiness doesn’t come in a one-size-fits-all perfect little box. Its different for everyone. That being said, here are some things that I have found to be unequivocally helpful in maintaining and growing my own happiness.
Establish a morning routine
When I wake up, the very first thing I do is make my bed. If my bed is already made, then my day has to begin, there’s no crawling back in for a just a few more minutes that end up turning into an hour-long nap.
After making my bed, I stretch. Some mornings it’s for 5 minutes, some mornings it’s 15, but its that initial flow of energy and brain stimulation that makes the whole day feel lest stressful and more composed.
Be mindful of what you're eating
If eating something makes you feel gross 30 minutes later– don’t eat it! Recently I’ve been working to reestablish my relationship with food. I think it all begins with where you get your food. Every Sunday, I make sure to go to the Dupont farmer’s market in D.C. to stock up on veggies and apples. There’s something about seeing where your food comes from that makes it so much more positive of an experience than just going to the grocery store (plus there’s no Oreo cookies to distract you from buying healthy food).
I’ve been working to incorporate fruits vegetables with all of my meals and minimize the processed stuff. Personally, when I eat healthier, I have so much more positive energy than when I don’t.
Also, cutting back on the things you don’t need. I’ve had to cut WAY back on my coffee consumption (and if you’ve read my earlier post, you know how much I love my coffee). By switching mostly to tea, I find that I’m not suffering caffeine crashes and withdrawal headaches and my energy is much more sustained throughout the course of the day.
Listen to your body. If you're thirsty, drink water! If you're craving something sweet, go for fruit. Most importantly, make sure you eat something (even if it's just a handful of almonds) every four hours, to maintain a healthy level of blood sugar.
Have a free day
On Saturdays I don’t do anything, and it’s my favorite day of the week. My schedule or organized to make sure that Saturdays remain free from plans, so that I can take the day to focus on whatever I want to do. This allows me to take trips into the city, or walk to the Georgetown waterfront to read and do it all at my own pace. There so much more enjoyment to be found in life when you’re not rushing from place to place and event to event.
My only rule for myself on my free day is that I have to get out of my room and off campus for a portion of this. Taking a step back from the stressful college atmosphere really allows me the freedom to process things a little slower and find an internal type of contentment that comes from being alone with myself.
Go to the gym
Or you could go for a run outside– regardless of where you go, make sure you’re getting exercise. It doesn’t have to be a marathon every day, but it needs to be something. Whether it’s yoga or going for a long walk or doing squats, make sure you always do one thing every day that’s fitness related. It’ll boost your endorphins and give you and overall feeling of wellbeing.
It doesn’t have to be super far, you don’t have to stay for an extended period of time, but make sure you get out every once in a while. Maybe you hop on a bus to the next city over or you go visit family for the weekend. Just make sure you get out and see more of the world than where you currently are. It’s easy to live in a bubble and feel trapped, but it’s important to get outside of that bubble and realize that life isn’t about one location, there’s a whole universe around you.