Its so easy to get wrapped up in life. The next thing you have to do, the next place you have to be, or that thing that happened earlier that is still bugging you. We can all be guilty of the days passing, blurring one into the next without you realising or really noticing whats going on around you.
We all need to take a moment to step off the hamster wheel and appreciate life a little bit more and be present in our days.
10 simple ways to improve your day
There are hundreds of small things you can start to do that draw you into the present and make you more aware of life and everything going on around you, and savour your time more. Here are just a few simple ones that you can start practising today.
Once you get started they can easily become habit, and you will see your mood and state of mind improving.
This is the simplest of all things, and one that we as humans probably do the least.
The simple act of smiling.
At strangers you pass in the street, at shop staff you interact with in your day, at work colleagues; start to make a habit of making eye contact and smiling as you pass them by.
You’ll be surprised at how much this simple act can impact your mood and how less alone it makes everyone feel.
02 . Take time for yourself
We often spend so much of the day rushing around and thinking of the next thing on the to-do list we don’t ever just stop to savour the moment and check in with ourselves.
It doesn’t matter when you do it, but just stop for half an hour and do something for yourself each and every day!
It’s called self care, and it is so important. Without taking care of yourself first, and filling up your own cup, how can you continually take care of others, keep giving your best, without burning out?
So run a hot bath and relax in the bubbles or make yourself a cup of your favourite tea, light a candle and curl up with a good book. Go for that massage you’ve been wanting.
This doesn’t have to be a 10 mile hike, or running a half marathon every day. But if that is what you do want to do, go you!
Exercise can be a half an hour walk on your lunch break or to unwind after work, yoga, dancing round your kitchen.. as long as you are getting your body moving for at least half an hour each day you increase your heart rate, get those endorphins flowing, and feel like you’ve achieved something each day.
Not only that, but your body will thank you for it.
04. Get outside
Now this could be combined with point three of you choose to go for a walk or a run, but purposefully go out to a park or green area, breath in the fresh air, smell the nature and plants around you, notice the creatures and flowers you see.Basically appreciate the world around you and how wonderful nature and the planet we share is.
05. Step away from the screen
In a world where our phone has become our alarm clock, news source, main form of communication and everything in between, we are all guilty of spending too much time glued to our screens.
Even when we aren’t looking at our phones we are sat at computer screens and watching tv. We can no longer walk from one place to the next without checking our phones or documenting our days for social media…
Here is the challenge. When your alarm goes off on a morning, don’t let checking your phone be the first thing you do. If you walk somewhere during the day, try not checking your phone and instead appreciate the things you see. Stop using your phone at least half an hour before you go to bed, and definitely not once you have switched the lights off.
If you can break the addiction you will start to feel much better for not needing to check your phone every few minutes, you will spend more time in the present with the people around you, you will be wayyy more productive, and you will sleep better too!
And you know what, you wont miss out on anything happening online in the few short hours you put your phone down.
I know this one can be hard for a lot of people to hear. But honestly, the benefits of meditation is well worth the effort at the beginning. The more you stick at it the easier it becomes.
Meditating doesn’t have to be a Buddha-like pose surrounded by incense and candles either. Find a position that is comfortable to you, relax, focus on your breathing and see what happens.
Just ten minutes a day can improve you focus, concentration, and wellbeing. It is also a great way to relax and reset at the end of a tough or taxing day. I find it completely changes my thought patterns and calms me down ready to sleep.
If you are struggling with where to start with your meditation practice there are plenty of guided meditations that you can use to start with. The app Headspace is a great for beginners. I have also put together a selection of guided meditations on Youtube that you can access here.
07. Spread a little happiness
Do something for someone else. Something nice that is unexpected. Whether it’s taking baked goods to the office, leaving a little note in your partners lunch, buying your mum flowers, paying for a strangers cup of coffee… you get the idea. It doesn’t have to be expensive or cost money just do a little something to make someone else’s day better.
Not only will you feel good for seeing the smile on their face, but you will feel good too.
08. Be kind
This is, in my very humble opinion, something so lacking in the human race. We tend to do the one thing that we were told as kids not to do – ‘judge a book by it’s cover’. You don’t know what anyone else is feeling, whats going on in their lives, or what has happened in their day. So instead of ‘reacting’ to how a stranger, colleague, or even friends and loved ones speak or act towards you. Stop. Take a breath. Take a step back mentally, and realise that it may not even be about you, and respond from a place of kindness. Or don’t even respond at all. Just give them space.
If you can keep calm and thoughtful in reactive situations you will find that your day and your mind run a lot smoother. Anger, frustration, and drama in general is really just a waste of your energy that could be so much better spent.
There is a well known quote;
” If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we‘d grab ours back.”
I think the theory of this applies to our feelings and emotions too. If we knew what others were feeling, how we treat them would change.
If we treated other people with nothing but kindness the world would be a better place. What we give to others will eventually return to us in some form or other. If you put good energy out into the world that is what you will attract.
And really, who wants to spend their day feeling angry, grumpy, or moody. It takes far more energy to do that than to accept the negative feeling(s) and then let them go and move on with your day.
09. Physical contact
Sometimes all you need to feel better after a bad day is a good hug! There is nothing quite like it to make you feel safe, warm, and almost instantly relaxed.
In fact there are scientific studies that prove hugging helps in healing, reducing stress and anxiety as well as depression and anger. You can’t be angry after a hug.
Even better is an elongated hug with someone special – friend, relative or partner, it leaves you feeling so much happier (it’s even proven to elevate serotonin levels!). It also keeps you grounded in the present moment and less alone in whatever it is that you are feeling.
Giving someone else a hug shows how much you care, and spreads a little kindness.
10. Practice gratitude
Whether it’s a simple list on you phone or in your diary, or you start a gratitude journal, this is one of the things I have found helps me the most.
Find three things each day that you are grateful for.
It doesn’t have to be huge things. Seeing a beautiful sunrise, getting to see a friend, a hug from someone special, the first sip of that coffee you love…. if you can stop and be thankful for all the small pleasures in life they soon add up and those little things can keep you happy all day!
If you really want to go all in on gratitude journaling you can go so far as 3 things first thing on a morning, and again at night.
There are some lovely journals around too. I have picked out a few of my favourites below.
Let me know if you try these techniques and how it goes. I’d also love to hear your own practices for being more grounded and present in the day to day and how it makes you feel..
Images are all of a foggy day at Flamborough Head, taken by me.