This is the deal: we live in a culture that valorizes being busy over being happy. Keeping a jam-packed schedule is a way of signaling to others that you’re successful, you’re good at your job, and you have a full social calendar… really, it’s a way of indicating that you’re popular, and in some secret chamber of our hearts, aren’t we all still those awkward, eighth grade girls, just desperate for popularity?
But being that constantly busy—on top of all the other sources of anxiety we’re experiencing right now—can stress us out. When our schedules are too full, we don’t take the time to prioritize our health, and we can end up burning out. So today’s the day—it’s time to reprioritize. Taking time for yourself isn’t bad or lazy, it’s good for you. And if you have to think about it from the perspective of how it helps others, know that you’ll have a lot more to give to the people around you when you take care of yourself first. It’s the oxygen mask rule.
These are three little things you can do every day to help you to slow down, appreciate the moment you’re in, and become more relaxed, calm… and ultimately, happier.
Make chores work for you
Think of it this way: the floor has to get vacuumed anyway, so why not turn that task into something valuable, rather than just another annoyance of the day? Here’s how to make it happen: the next time you’re doing the dishes, just pay attention to what goes through your mind. Are you thinking about what you saw on the news, or deciding what to make for dinner? Notice your thoughts, and then let them go. Start paying attention to your breathing, and take a few deep breaths. Try to empty your mind completely. This is a great practice for slowing down, and can make a banal activity meditative.
Practice conscious listening
The next time someone is talking to you, whether it’s in person or on a Zoom call, really try to stop and listen. We’re often so busy doing other things we don’t properly listen to our loved ones. We might think we can listen while doing the laundry, but then we’re not really giving the other person our full attention—and after all, being present and giving our loved ones our full attention is one of the greatest gifts we can give. Yes, sometimes we all have to multitask—and no, you’re not going to hell for doing so—but if you can take a few minutes to just listen to the people in your life for a bit, you’ll both be happier and healthier for it.
Make time to enjoy your cup of coffee
Instead of drinking your coffee while reading the paper or figuring out your schedule for the day, try sitting down and sipping it slowly. Realistically, drinking a cup of coffee will only take you about 10 minutes. This may be too much time to ask from some folks—especially moms who are trying to balance everything—but if you think you could find ten minutes’ of wiggle room in your day, consider the practice. Taking ten minutes a day to simply exist and enjoy your coffee is great for your well-being.