Lately I’ve been writing a lot about Bullet Journaling, in particular, my Bullet Journal, but this week, I wanted to shift gears a little and talk about some small lifestyle changes that can make a huge difference in your day-to-day quality of life. I was actually inspired to write about this by this BuzzFeed listicle. For some reason, it popped back into my “For You” feed even though it’s 4 years old, and I like to peruse this type of content to see if there are any small changes I can try to make in my daily routine to make life a bit easier. I then looked through a few more listicles and realized that, hey, I actually do most of the things suggested – and a few more of my own. So today, I want to share with you the things that I have found that not only make my life easier, but have given me an overall better quality of life too.
This is especially important for me as someone with Fibromyalgia. Part of keeping flare-ups and the associated depression at bay is maintaining, and doing, these 13 things to make life better for me. Hopefully, something in the following list will inspire and help you too!
Please note that if you suffer from serious mental illness or depression, nothing on this list will supplement or replace medication, therapy, and medical care! If you need help, please – reach out. If you’re suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
Now, on to the list…
1. Make Your Bed Daily. YES! I have done this for as long as I can remember and I can’t stress enough how much better it feels to crawl into a freshly made bed at night. Seriously, it takes 2 minutes. It’s worth every bit of those 120 seconds.
2. Stop Hitting Snooze! This was a tougher one for me to master and it’s something that I’ve been tracking in my habit tracker for a few months now. I’m proud to say that May is the last month I’ll need to track this because it is officially now a habit. Granted, it took me downloading the Alarmy app to get this particular habit down…but it has made a world of difference in the amount of time I can allow myself each morning.
Alarmy, if you don’t know, is one of many alarm apps that is singularly the most obnoxious thing you can subject yourself to each day. So bonus that you get the most obnoxious thing your day will bring (hopefully!) out of the way first thing! I have mine set up to force me to solve basic maths problems before it shuts off – and I disabled the snooze feature. Oh, by the way, that also means that if you turn your phone OFF to shut the alarm up, it’ll only start yelling at you again the moment you power back on. Yeah, I learned that one the hard way…
3. Make Space to Write, Stream of Consciousness Style, Each Morning. The first thing that I do after I manage to get my alarm turned off is go to my living room, sit down with a journal and pen, and just write. Whatever comes to mind, I write. It doesn’t have to be good, bad, indifferent, or even make sense. The point of it is to clear your mind of the clutter that sleep, dreams, and whatever was lurking when you went to bed that may still be lingering brings. It’s essentially a brain dump to help you start each day with a clear(er) head. I took the idea from Megan over at Page Flutter about a year ago. While she advocates writing 3 pages each morning, I’d have to get up by 4 am to do that and it wasn’t something I was willing to do (4:30 – 5 am is early enough, thank you). Nevertheless, whether you write 3 sentences, 3 paragraphs, or 3 pages, it’s a great habit to get into and an excellent way to start your day – free and clear of muddled thoughts.
4. Meditate! As soon as I’m done writing, I meditate for about 10 minutes. Since my brain is one of those that never. Shuts. Off., after trying to meditate on my own for a while (and not feeling very satisfied), I downloaded the Calm app. It’s guided, mindfulness meditation and it has made SUCH a world of difference in how I face my days. Even my boyfriend has gotten to the point where he doesn’t want to talk to me until the morning writing and meditation is done because he’s seen the benefits over time. Meditating and taking those mindfulness techniques with me into each day has definitely changed my outlook, and my general stress level. Oh, and both the morning writing and meditation take up about 20 – 30 minutes of my time each morning. Obviously, if I hit snooze, I get less time to do the things that make me feel better, so you can see how these small habits can start to cascade into large, meaningful changes.
5. Establish a Morning and Nightly Routine. In addition to meditation and writing, I have a set morning and nightly routine. These are things that I do every day and night, regardless of where I am or of what time it is that I’m getting up or going to bed. I consider these my “Daily Do” task list. Establishing a small routine like this helps to keep me balanced no matter where I am.
6. Prepare for the Next Day, the Night Before. This is such a time saver in the morning and realistically, it takes about 5 minutes of my time each evening. For me, it simply means checking the weather and laying out my outfit for work the next day, then setting up the coffee for the morning. Now, I will admit that I don’t do this on weekends and holidays because typically, those are days when I have time in the morning and can relax. But if that’s not your style and you want to commit to 7 days a week no matter what, take that 5 minutes each evening to make the next day just that little bit easier.
7. Batch Cook for Each Week. I will admit that when it comes to evening and weekend meals, I don’t meal-plan. I used to, but these days, not so much – and this is another habit I need to get back into. What I do to make my week easier is to batch cook my breakfast and lunches that I take to work. I decide what the menu du jour will be for the week on Sunday, and then spend the afternoon cooking it up. I make enough so that I can take it and leave it in the fridge at work on Monday. It’s less to think about, less to carry each day, and less to do each night when I get home from work. Win!
8. Keep a Clean Home. It’s too easy to overlook the clutter and dirt at the end of a long day, but it’s also too easy to just pick one room a day to tidy and sweep (or vacuum) when you get home each day! According to Psychology Today (among other psychological studies), having a clean, clutter free home helps to de-stress our lives. The article linked here has plenty of tips on how to tackle messes, but I will say that from my own personal experiences, those periods of time where I neglected my home were the result of internal, psychological troubles that were only compounded by the mess in a self-perpetuating cycle of un-clean gloom. For several years now, I’ve made it a point to clean from stem to stern on a weekly or, at least, bi-weekly basis. My kitchen is always cleaned after use, and the loo gets a weekly or more cleaning whether it likes it or not. And yes, I work full-time and have loads of commitments outside of work too. But what a difference it makes to come home to a clean, open, and welcoming space after a long day of rubbish at work! And bonus? The more you make this a habit, the less time it takes to clean overall because there’s actually less to clean!
9. Journal! So, this is one that I’ll be adding to my habit tracking next month (June). While morning stream-of-consciousness writing is a good way to start the day, by it’s very design, it’s not effective journaling. Not only is keeping a journal good for your mental well being, there’s some evidence to show that it may help your overall health, just like meditation, exercise, and eating well. I used to be good at this, but it’s a habit I’ve lost over the years and it’s one I’ve decided I need to re-introduce to my life. If you don’t know what to write about, write about your day, thoughts, or feelings – or search for journal prompts online! Pinterest has tons, and a lot of “living better” blogs (like this one?) also offer monthly prompts. In fact, in order to kick start my own journaling, I’ll be offering a Journal With Me challenge starting in June, so stay tuned for that!
10. Exercise. Ugh. The dreaded one. And lately, I haven’t been all that great at this myself. But even if it just means a 20 minute walk each day, getting out and getting moving is important. We all know the health benefits so I’m not going to beat a dead horses here, but really – it makes such a difference.
11. Swap Soda/Juice/Energy Drinks for Water. Again, it’s a game changer. Cutting out that sugar alone leads to weight loss and better all around health and sleep. I was never a big soda person to begin with, but several years ago I got in the habit of always having ice water with me. Now, I can’t go anywhere without my “bobble” (my water bottle), and you better believe I keep it full all day.
12. Cut Back on Social Media. It seems counter-intuitive to type this since I sort of rely on social media to support this page, but one of the things I tracked for several months was “No personal Facebook”. That meant only the work Facebook group that I’m an admin for, and my Renaissance Magpie Facebook profile. That newsfeed consists exclusively of bullet journal, life, and art bloggers/YouTubers, so I’m not inundated with negative BS day in and day out. Maybe you’re good with Facebook but it’s Instagram, or SnapChat, or any one of the seemingly endless stream of networks out there that just gets you down or worked up. Whichever one brings the most negativity into your life, cut back or cut it out completely. It took a while for the withdrawal to end when I stopped checking my personal Facebook account but now, I don’t regret it in the least. I also lost that FOMO (fear of missing out) because the less I saw of people with whom I only associated online, the less I cared about what event I might be missing. If I’m cared for enough, I’ll get a text or message about what’s going on around me. If I’m not, that event or thing wasn’t worth going to in the first place. It also serves as an excellent way to weed toxic and negative people out of your life. Which brings me to my last lifestyle change…
13. Cut the Toxic and Negative People Out. OK. So this may not be “simple” or even “small”, but it’s probably the most important thing you can do for your well being and yes, that includes toxic family members. Like negative social media input, having those perennially toxic and negative people in your life is a tremendous detriment to your physical and mental health. It’s not easy, especially if that toxic person is a family member or someone you’ve known for a long time, but once you’re able to cut those ties, trust me, it will feel like a weight you didn’t know you were even carrying has been lifted from your soul. I’m speaking directly from experience too, not just trying to regurgitate some babble I heard somewhere.
So, there it is. Phe Magpie’s comprehensive listicle on tried and true (for me anyway) methods to help manage stress and maintain better health and habits.
How about you? Do you do any of these things or have routines, habits, or tips that work for you? Share in the comments!