For years, I felt like I was going through my life on autopilot. I would wake up early, start work right away, and not stop until late at night, leaving me too tired to do anything but watch Netflix for the rest of my day. I spend my weekends doing activities that I don’t like that will make me feel depressed because I feel like I will let people down if I say “no.” Finally, after a stressful week, I realized that I didn’t really live the life I wanted. I have savings, a wonderful husband, a sweet dog, a wonderful family, and a beautiful home, but still, I am not happy.
If I want to feel at ease and behave towards my loved ones, I need to change my life. So, within a few months, I started doing things that changed my situation in my life. These practices not only made me happier, but they also improved my health and relationships. Are you wondering how you can find more joy in life? Keep reading to learn seven simple strategies I used to help me be my best self.
1. I pursue activities without end goals
We live in a society that is so focused on promoting every activity that we often forget that it is okay to do something just because we enjoy it. Research shows that people who have hobbies have less negative emotions and less stress than those who have no hobbies. Taking time out of your week for a little relaxation time not only makes you more zen, but it can also help you discover parts of yourself you’ve forgotten or discover new parts of yourself that you didn’t know about. and it is.
I studied English in college, taking 3-5 books a week. But after starting a demanding job, it was difficult for me to get a few books every year. My younger son was eager to get out of the story and was interested in reporting on the subject of a novel. I feel like I lost this part of myself in my 20s and I want to get it back. So I set myself a goal of reading one book a month. The best part about this goal is that it doesn’t take much time. Instead of scrolling through Instagram in the morning, I crawled into bed with my dog and spent 15 minutes reading a book. This simple habit helped me start my day with joy, which positively affected my attitude the rest of the day.
2. I started saying “no”
When was the last time you said “no” to a colleague, friend or family member? If it has taken some time, you are not alone. 65% of American women reported that they struggle to say “no” to others.. But it’s a word you should know you’re talking about more. Setting boundaries can greatly reduce stress and make room for what’s most important to you. I used to be a “yes” girl. I said “yes” to the maintenance project that works even if I am already immersed in the project. I said “yes” to drinking with my friends at night even if I wanted to save money and hit the paper. I try to stay positive as much as possible because I want people to like me. What I learned is that being a “yes” girl did not make me more attractive. It made me tired and stressed.
So I started saying “no” to discrimination to protect my mental health. This means that I will not work more than I can do on an eight-hour day and tell my friends that I will be happy to meet me for a walk in the park on Saturday morning, but I will not do it for him. Happy hour (which, let’s face it, doesn’t last for just one hour). Saying “no” was uncomfortable at first, but every time I said “no” to something that didn’t fit my values, I was saying “yes” to something that happened. Saying “no” to more work than I can handle means I can say “yes” to Wednesdays with my husband. Saying “no” to drinking with my friends means I can say “yes” to walking my dog for free.
3. I stopped comparing myself to others on social media
Raise your hand if you’ve fallen prey to social media comparisons. I know I have. Having other people’s lives is interesting, but it can also be very damaging to your mental health. Research has found a link between using multiple social media and high rates of anxiety and depression. Experts believe that this could be due to many factors including increased socialization. For me, social comparison means how I view my body. As a fitness enthusiast, I often follow women in the health and fitness space. However, this space is dominated by people with specific body types. Seeing these images are basically the same type that made me hate mine.
I started to notice that every time I scrolled through social media, a lot of hateful comments about my appearance followed. So I made a social media post, an unfollowed account that made me feel like crap and following others that celebrate women of different ages, races, and styles . Changing the type of content I was exposed to slowly began to change the way I thought about myself. Seeing images that honor women in all of our forms helped me to appreciate my own beauty and release the pressure to be strong and pack a six pack.
4. I spoke well to myself
We all have a little voice in our head that makes us look good. However, that voice can quickly change from a motivational speaker to a bully. Most people get 12,000-60,000 views per day, on average, 80% of them are bad. Experts believe that this type of self-talk can lead to many harmful things like insecurity and depression.
In an interview with Jay Shetty, Kendall Jenner has revealed that she keeps a picture of her childhood in her bathroom mirror as a reminder that whenever she says something negative about herself, she says it to the little girl in the picture. I have used this practice in my own life, with an image of a child holding a puppy as my lock screen. I find it hard to say bad things to myself when I look at the little girl smiling, but now I spend my energy telling her that she is smart, successful, and loved one.
5. I did exercise that I enjoyed
For years, the fitness industry told women that we needed to punish ourselves with intense workouts every day to get the body of our dreams. Although the new wave of women’s health focuses on balance and honoring our bodies, many women still rely on the idea that exercise has to be intense to be effective. However, pushing yourself through a HIIT class you hate can do more harm to your mind and body than good.
According to research, major predictors of whether or not you will stick to an exercise plan how are you enjoying it. Participating in a workout that you love encourages you to repeat more often, which will ultimately help you maintain your fitness routine.
I used to be guilty of forcing myself to skip a workout I hated for a month only to lose motivation and not exercise again for another two weeks. I know that if I really want to reap the benefits of exercise, I need to create a routine. So I ditched the exercises that didn’t bring me joy and switched them out for activities I enjoyed every day, like walking outside, yoga classes, jogging, and lifting weights occasionally. By creating a routine that fits into what I enjoy, it’s easier for me to stick to an exercise plan, helping me feel more energized during the week.
6. I ditched food
Almost every woman has experienced social pressure to eat at some point in her life. This exhausting pursuit of importance begins at a young age, too 80% of 10 year olds reports that they have been in food, according to recent data released by Keep it real campaign. This diet concept does not lead to a better body. Instead, women often report feelings of apathy, guilt, and anxiety. Like many other women, I have fallen into the trap of yo-yo dieting. I would follow a strict eating pattern that made me feel tired, unsatisfied, and worse then my mind couldn’t take it anymore. This caused a lot of anxiety about food, making it a challenge to go to social events, on vacation, or on a date night without fear of what will be on the menu.
I’m tired of minimizing my life and avoiding the activities I love in pursuit of the unattainable flesh. So I gave up on food for thought. Now I ask myself what I can put on my plate to make my food as tasty and nutritious as possible. I try to include protein, whole grains, healthy fats, and my favorite fruits or veggies in every meal so that my body gets the nutrients it needs to thrive. And if I want to eat a slice of pizza or go for ice cream with my sister, I do so without guilt, knowing that the experience will feed my soul. It took a lot of practice, but eventually, I got rid of food guilt and had an amazing relationship with food.
7. I gave myself grace
I used to struggle with the all or nothing concept. If I can’t do something perfectly, I will be overly critical and wonder why I even bother setting new goals. This would feed into the feelings of failure that killed my motivation and made me persevere in self-destructive behavior. Letting go of perfectionism and giving myself grace gave me the strength to overcome the above plans and stick to them. Treating mistakes as learning opportunities instead of failures helped me see progress in every setback, which helped maintain a growth mindset.