I want to live out every day feeling optimistic, capable, and accomplished. I strive to fully engage in and enjoy every moment. However, all this doesn't always come easy. When I'm centered (the internal state where these desires are realized), the world is a brighter and more navigable place. But like most people, I'm prone to getting off balance.
Some low patches are easier to traverse through than others. Sometimes all I need to do is wash my hair. Sometimes it takes going out with friends or a night in by myself. Sometimes it's not that simple. But I've learned that there are a few things I can do consistently to ensure I stay centered:
- Morning walks with my dog. I love the softness and cleanness of mornings. It's refreshing to be outside for a bit before spending the day at a computer. Feeling the air, looking at trees and flowers, and listening to the cacophony of sounds is a great reminder about how amazing our planet it. Even in the concrete jungle of New York, finding these reminders is possible. (Dogs are also awesome to hang out with.)
- Yoga. I think if you don't like yoga, there's a good chance you either haven't found the right studio/instructor, or you haven't truly engaged with the mindset of the practice. Even though I've been practicing yoga since high school, I didn't really love it until a few years ago, when both these things happened. The connection you get from yoga - to your body, your breath, whatever higher power you believe it, the people around you - is like nothing else.
- Eat good, real food. I don't restrict or ban (unless something actually makes me sick), but do stick to real, natural foods - fats and all. After years of stomach issues, I've learned to steer clear of foods that have been manufactured to be low-fat, sugar-free, or low-carb. I love the process of cooking and eating (mostly eating), and make sure there is no guilt or discomfort associated with it. Enjoying a good meal with a nice glass of wine is one of the happiest things in the world and always improves my mood.
- Meditate. Despite the benefits I've experienced, I still struggle to incorporate meditation into my daily routine. I always feel too busy to take 5-10 minutes to sit and breathe, but have no problem wasting that time scrolling through Instagram. When I do take time to meditate, the difference is very noticeable, and I'm working to be more consistent with this practice.
- Connect with people. Calling a friend, having a conversation with the person bagging my groceries, smiling at someone on the street - it makes a huge difference in how I feel about myself and removes the blanket of isolation.
- Write. I'm excellent at forgetting all the good things that happened in a given week and only thinking about the downers. By taking a few minutes each day to jot highlights and reflections down in my Evernote journal, I'm reminded of all the special moments and meaningful experiences.
- Doing push-ups. Or squats. Or any exercise that makes me feel strong and sweaty.
From the blog Sweet Potato Soul (the author is in my yoga class!): "Self-love is a practice, and a journey I am on every day. One of my desires is to get to a point in my life where I am totally accepting of myself, and in love with who I am. It’s not selfish, or vain; it’s the way we should be. When I don’t love myself, I don’t share my potential, my ideas, my gifts. It’s the same for us all."