It’s that time of year. Doesn’t it always seem like it’s that time of year? You know, that time. That time when you have four final exams to study for and two final projects within 24 hours of each other. That time when you accidentally compromise relationships with those you care about because your tunnel vision planned a sneak attack on your social calendar. That time when you write a fabulous and 100% authentic paper regarding life’s timing and your very sophisticated and intellectual professor questions the legitimacy of your thesis statement. That time you wake up with a smile on your face and within two minutes after crawling out of bed you have stubbed your toe and dropped your phone in the toilet, all while developing a severe case of the Mondays…on a Wednesday.
Whatever that time may be for you, I have crafted a list and perfected the act of completion. I call this list my Daily Demands.
Although some may be more obvious than others, life has a tendency to cloud your mental vision and sometimes it just takes a simple reminder (or ten) to get closer to clarity.
Whether you’re an out-loud worshipper or you prefer a quiet, inside-your-head conversation with God, do it. I have learned that the most important relationship is the relationship you have with yourself. But the most impactful way to love yourself is to let the Man upstairs give you some guidance. And contrary to the wise words of Miley Cyrus, God will not judge you.
Meditation has a plethora of meanings to any given individual, so be creative and do what fits your needs. You would be surprised at the impact a simple moment of deep breathing after waking up in the morning has on your well-being throughout the day. Give your brain some love when you wake up and take five to ten deep and slow breaths, focusing on nothing but the movement of the air.
3. Go for a walk.
Exercising holds varying levels of priority to each of us, but taking a stroll is the perfect excuse to clear your head, listen to the new album you recently discovered and breathe in some fresh air. This time of year, it is especially hard to spend time outdoors because of the temperature, so put on some layers and cover any exposed skin and hit the sidewalk.
4. Talk to your loved ones.
Family, friends, significant other. Talk to them! Ask them how their day is going, take a genuine and sincere interest in their needs and let them know you love them. This sort of communication is a two-way street of nurture.
5. Reflect on your goals.
A goal without a plan is just a dream. Dedicate some of your time thinking about where you are, where you want to go and HOW you will get there! Do not be discouraged by the distance between you and where you want to be. Use that space to inspire you.
6. Act selflessly at least once.
I do not mean you should give your week’s paycheck to the Salvation Army outside of Target. It could be as simple as holding the door for someone or throwing your most sincere smile in a stranger’s direction.
7. Think about what excites you.
When I have deadlines to meet or a negative thought creeping into my head, I think about what I am looking forward to most. Whether it’s a family vacation next month or a Florida Georgia Line concert next year, spend some time getting excited about it. That excitement will most likely be applied to the current task at hand and you will trick yourself into being in a better mood.
8. Remember the big picture.
So you didn’t get the job you were hoping for? Your friend didn’t acknowledge you when you offered a greeting and a smile walking to class one day? While working with children suffering from chronic illnesses over the summer, my 12-year-old camper said, “Think about what is stealing your happiness in this moment. Will it matter in five years? If your answer is no, do not give that person or problem another thought.” The next time you find yourself having a little pity-party, explore the thought of how much importance the problem(s) will have in a year, two years, five years.
Just do it. You hear the statistic describing how even when you’re upset, smiling triggers the muscles that are linked to your brain and blah, blah, blah. Do me a favor and smile right now. Did you feel that?
10. Learn something new.
Whether you’re reading Yahoo News over a cup of Maxwell House with Almond Joy creamer in the comfort of your living room, reading a chapter from a professor-recommended book conceptualizing productivity or flipping to an unexplored page of your recipe book, learn something. You have a million gigabytes of storage in your brain; don’t let them go to waste!
11. Read a page of the Bible.
Whether you are religious or not, the Bible is a detailed storybook. There are valuable lessons hidden in every page and each put your life into a new perspective. I am a huge advocate for revisiting Psalms and Proverbs because I find them the most applicable and relatable to my 20-something, beautiful mess I call life.
12. Know that however you feel, you are not alone.
There are over seven billion humans on this planet. It is very safe to say at least one of them is sharing your exact feelings in this moment. I say it is acceptable to feel any feeling, as long as it is not loneliness. If you ever feel like a one-man army, you are one of many and I am right there with you.
So go ahead, try out one or five or all of my Daily Demands if you do not already practice them. I hope you find more happiness and meaning in your life.