In the spirit of Spring being right around the corner, I wanted to talk a little bit today about the beauty in taking a second, minute or maybe even a few minutes a day to stop and smell the proverbial roses. I have been thinking about this concept more and more recently, that is the concept of enjoying the journey to the fullest and not being in such a rush to get to the destination. Quite possibly it’s because let’s face it, I am not getting any younger and well time just doesn’t seem as infinite as it once did but I also think it’s related to how much joy I have found in the everyday process of taking better care myself. I have fallen in love with eating right and working out and in doing so have realized that there really is no end game for me anymore when it comes to my health and wellness journey. Oh sure, I still have goals I want to achieve. I would like to build more muscle. I would like to run longer races. I would like to eventually be in a place to help more people find the joy in taking care of themselves like I have. But there is no stopping point or destination for me anymore. This has now squarely become my lifestyle and I couldn’t be happier to find myself on this path.
Once upon a time (two years ago) I figured I would cut out the junk food, hit the treadmill a few times a week and lose the ten pounds I had put on and that would pretty much be that. I would then do just enough to maintain that lower weight by whatever means necessary, which probably meant it wouldn’t be the healthiest way, just the easiest, aka path of least resistance. What has ended up happening, thankfully, is that somewhere along the way I fell in love with the process. Which got me thinking…wouldn’t it be great if I could translate that feeling into other parts of my life as well?? And what better time to start doing so than on the cusp of a new season. A new season that brings the blooming of beautiful flowers, warmer weather and new life after a long, gray winter. So, my intention for March is to be more present in the moment, enjoy everyday to the fullest, and take the time to slow down and smell the roses!
We are all so busy you guys. Even on days our calendars aren’t jammed packed there always seems like a million little chores we should be catching up on in our “spare time”. The older I get, the more I realize this is just life. There will always be something, or more realistically a gazillion somethings we should be doing at any give time but do you want to wake up one day and realize life had flown by while you were busy rushing around checking things off your to-do list?? I sure don’t! So, what are some ways we can slow down and fall more in love with the everyday? There are a few small things that I have started doing more and more since setting this goal that have already made a big difference…..take a look below:
- Getting outside more – There is just something about being out in nature and getting fresh air that is always extremely grounding and calming for me. And it’s not just me! Spending more time outside has been shown to lessen anxiety and depression, lower blood pressure, ease the feelings of stress and tension, and even boost immunity. I have always been sort of obsessed with sunrises and sunsets, so I have been making more of an effort to take them in each day. They are a stunning reminder that beginnings and endings can be beautiful, peaceful and good for the soul. Maybe get out for a lunchtime stroll if the weather permits. Walk your dog a bit longer than you normally would or just sit outside for a few minutes a day and take in that sunrise or sunset when you have the opportunity. Take a few deep breaths while doing so and I bet some of that stress from the day will melt away and the world will seem to slow down even if it’s just for a few minutes!
- Turning off or putting away my phone more often – My phone automatically tracks how much screen time I put in each day. A few weeks back I got a notification that said I had spent an average of 4 hours a day on my phone during the previous week! 4 hours!!!! I was shocked and a little disappointed with myself so right then and there I decided I needed to force myself to disconnect more! I know my problem times are when I get off work in the afternoons and then again at night right before I go to bed. So the first thing I did was I started silencing some of my notifications after hours just so I was not as tempted to look at my phone as often and I have gradually worked up to really putting my phone away almost completely after work. And guess what…first of all I didn’t die and secondly I have started enjoying things I used to do before the need to be connected became so overwhelming. I am reading a lot more. I am cooking more. I started doing puzzles again, which may sound kinda corny but I have always loved sitting down in front of a big jigsaw puzzle and putting it together over the course of a few nights. I play with my dogs more. I am going to bed a bit earlier and sleeping better because I am not mindlessly scrolling through hours of social media right before bed like I had been. I am working on yet another professional certification to try to continue to learn and better myself. Disconnecting is helping me reconnect to the important things right in front of me and allowing me to work more productively towards achieving some of the goals I have set for myself this year. And hey, my old eyes are appreciating the break from the screen time as well!
- Enjoying my morning coffee for an extra 15 minutes each morning – This one has been HUGE for me. What a difference 15 minutes can make you guys!! Part of the reason I so look forward to the weekends is because I can get up and enjoy that first cup of coffee in the morning slowly and at my own leisure. I usually just sit down on the couch for about 15-20 minutes and really enjoy drinking my coffee and not doing much else. During the week it was a much different story. I was up early, getting my MM100 workout in, chugging my coffee as I was half-heartedly putting on make-up and getting dressed then running out the door to sit in traffic on my way to the office. About a month ago I decided I needed to overhaul my morning routine because it was just too rushed, too frantic and not setting the best tone for the day. I thought about how much I enjoy my coffee ritual on the weekends and I decided I would simply set my alarm 15 minutes earlier to carve out time to enjoy my coffee the same way during the week. Wow what a huge difference this small change has made! Everything that was once so rushed has seemed to slow down a bit and I actually enjoy my mornings now. I still get everything done, I am still in the office by 8am but I am not frazzled, angry or anxiety ridden when I get there. It’s been a priceless change….and I am sure my co-workers appreciate it also! 😊
- Using my commute to listen to a podcast – I have about a 30-minute commute each way to and from work which isn’t terrible, but it used to be a part of my day I really didn’t enjoy. I used to always feel anxious to get where I was going as fast as possible and spent almost the whole ride with a slight if not more than a slight feeling of anxiety. I don’t like being in the car period, so I decided I needed to try to do something to make my commute less painful and maybe even a tad bit relaxing. I knew I needed a distraction so I thought I would start listening to podcasts to take my mind off the traffic all around me. I have a few that I have been really enjoying which all serve to keep me focused on my goals, keep my motivation high and even make me look at the world in a slightly more positive light. A few that I enjoy are:
- Impact Theory – If you want something geared toward personal development, which I think is so important to incorporate into our daily habits, this podcast is for you! Tom Bilyeu is at the helm which is what attracted me initially to this specific podcast because he is the very successful CEO of the Quest nutrition brand. By very successful, I mean it’s a billion-dollar company, so he probably knows a little bit about what it takes to make it! He focuses on helping people improve themselves and in turn improve the world, which really is what it’s all about, right? At least I think so!
- Tony Robbins – I mean, of course, right?!? Pretty much the guru of life coaching, Tony Robbins drops some serious life knowledge in his podcasts. I really enjoy this one because it covers a diverse range of topics from relationships, to business, to health issues and even finances. It is geared toward helping you break through all your self-imposed limits, which until I really started listening and thinking about, I didn’t even realize I had. If you are looking to meet your goals and meet them as quickly as possible, I definitely recommend checking out this one, if you haven’t already!
- Goal Digger – Alright ladies, this one is for you! This is a great podcast for all the aspiring girl bosses out there! Jenna Kutcher inspires all us ladies to go after our dreams in the unique way that makes us, us. She’s super relatable yet extremely inspiring and makes you truly believe that if you dig in and do the work you can accomplish everything you want. I always get out of my car feeling much more empowered than when I got in which gives me the extra kick in the butt I need a lot of days to keep chasing after my own dreams.
- Stop multitasking as much –Sit down to a meal and just eat. Turn off the TV, put away your phones and just enjoy the food. Appreciate that you have it. Chew each bite slowly. Just walk the dog. Don’t walk the dog with one hand and be scrolling through Instagram with the other. Going back to my earlier point about enjoying nature and disconnecting more, appreciate the fresh air you are getting and the steps you are able to take. Enjoy the time with your dog because for him/her this is probably a highlight of their day (other than eating of course!). Enjoy their excitement. Apply this same concept to your daily to do lists as well. One of the ways I have found to help eliminate at least some of the multitasking we all find ourselves doing each day is to really plan. Make lists either the night before or every morning of all the things you want to accomplish that day and plan out when and for how long you are going to be doing them. Then prioritize that list (I usually tackle the easy, quick things first and leave the harder or more time-consuming items for later), and then one by one get them done. I find that when I unitask (yep that is actually the word for doing one thing at a time…I looked it up!) I not only get my tasks done quicker which frees up more time for me to enjoy an activity I want to doing instead of need to be doing but I also usually get better results because I am more focused, and my full attention is on the one task at hand.
- Stretch. Breathe. Repeat. – If you had a chance to read my last post, Monthly Goal Intention: February, then you know how important stretching is for our overall physical health. Stretching does a world of good for our joint health, our blood flow and even things like our cardiovascular health and blood pressure. For me, I also find it extremely relaxing and a great way to take a few extra minutes out of my day to slow down and be present. Spending just a few minutes lengthening our muscles does a world of good for relieving tension that might have built up throughout our hectic days. Practicing deep breathing while you are stretching adds another layer of relaxation to the mix further aiding in slowing down the world for a few extra minutes. I find that if you really focus on taking equal breaths in and out as deeply and purposely as you can you end up becoming very connected to yourself and present in the moment. You aren’t thinking about any of the million things waiting for you when you are done, or the ten notifications you just got on your phone, or worrying about what you are going to make for dinner, you are just being. You’re being present. You’re being connected to your body. You’re being calm. And the world in return seems calm around you. So breathe in, breathe out, bend one way, bend the other and then repeat as many times as needed to slow down the world and be thankful for the moment you are in right then and there.
Now just to be clear, in writing this post I am not encouraging you to throw your to-do lists out the window and neglect all the things we need to be doing as the responsible adults that we surely are just to go skipping through the sunflower fields. What I am suggesting is we find small ways to be more present in the moment we are in and take joy in the little thing’s life has to offer. Having said that, in the interest of being as transparent and honest on here as I can be, this is whole concept is very challenging for me! Although the suggestions above sound simple enough, slowing down and “smelling the roses” is kinda tough. I have to make a conscious effort and remind myself over and over and over again to actually do some of them. Slowing down and enjoying the everyday, sometimes mundane tasks in life is not something that comes all that naturally, to me at least. I am guessing that is because somewhere along the way after childhood and as we become adults we are programmed to just go go go. But with enough practice, just like anything else it will become a habit. Life is pretty amazing if we stop to appreciate it. Enjoy that first cup of coffee in the morning a little but longer. Take in that sunrise and sunset. Spend a few minutes connecting to your breath each day. Snuggle your pup a little tighter every night. Enjoy it all you guys, every single minute is truly a gift!