1. Make your bed.
Seems like the easiest thing in the world, but most of us never bother to do it. It takes ten seconds but it makes a huge difference in making you feel more calm and in control of your life.
2. Have playlists on stand-by for whatever mood you’re in, or whatever mood you’re trying to get into.
Make your playlists ahead of time for any and every kind of mood you could ever get in – sad, happy, stressed, sleepy, anxious, excited. It’s also beneficial for when you need help getting into a particular mindset, so that you have something to listen to if you’re tired but need to get energized, if you’re stressed but need to calm down, etc.
3. Make a small to-do list every day that you can actually accomplish.
Nothing huge. It can be as simple as “pick up prescription from CVS.” But being able to cross a few things off a list every day will make you feel relaxed and productive.
4. Sign up for a daily e-mail newsletter.
My personal favorite is theSkimm – I swear by it. It’s a quick, easy, and, frankly, a fun way to keep up with the news every single day. It’s free, and they’ll send you an e-mail early in the morning Monday through Friday that will help you follow the news and stay aware of what’s going on in the world in an interesting and efficient way. It definitely helps me feel less guilty about my own ignorance with what’s happening both around me and far away from me.
5. Set aside a little bit of quiet time, every single day.
Nothing extreme, just a few minutes each day where you disconnect and allow yourself to unwind. You can read a book, or sit quietly on your commute home from work, or walk from one place to another without headphones in your ears. Whatever you choose to do, it’s like a breath of fresh air that you didn’t even know you needed.
6. Avoid screens before bed.
Try to avoid playing on your phone or computer before you go to bed. Not only does it keep your mind from decompressing, but the actual light from your screen will confuse your body into thinking it’s still daytime. Give your body and your mind time to settle down and prepare for bed, and you’ll have a much better sleep each night.
7. Listen to movie soundtracks or instrumental music while you’re trying to get work done.
The music will keep you energized without distracting you with lyrics. It keeps you relaxed, while simultaneously helping your mind to focus on what you need to get done.
8. Make a huge meal in the beginning of the week that you can eat as leftovers multiple times.
Pick something different to make every Sunday or Monday, so that you’re always getting a good variety. Make something that allows for multiple servings, and then you won’t have to worry about what you’re going to do for dinner every night when you come home from work and you’re tired and lazy.
9. Light a candle.
Never underestimate the good vibes that come from a candle. Whether you’re trying to relax or entertain friends or get work done or just have some unwinding time, a candle creates a calming and cozy atmosphere around you.
10. Take a walk outside.
In the woods, in your neighborhood, down a busy city street – it doesn’t matter. A walk will get your blood flowing, stimulate your mind, and allow your thoughts to go to places where they’ve needed to go all day.
11. Eat breakfast.
We can all pretty much agree that it sucks to be awake and to be forced to socialize with coworkers or classmates any time before 10 a.m. The easiest thing you can do to make your morning more tolerable is to eat a decent breakfast. Fruit, a smoothie, Eggo Waffles, cereal, I don’t care. Just eat something that’s going to keep you awake and something that will prevent your stomach from making embarrassing noises during that morning meeting.
12. Allow yourself to actually watch t.v. or a movie without feeling guilty.
You know you’re going to do it anyway – you’re going to tell yourself you should be cleaning or doing work or some other boring activity but instead you’re going to watch a show. So why not just give yourself permission to watch an episode or two without feeling guilty, so that you’ll feel more relaxed and rejuvenated afterwards – possibly enough so that you may even want to do something productive.
13. Text someone you miss and let them know you’re thinking about them.
You can call them if you want, but we all know that anyone under the age of 30 is pretty much terrified of speaking to another human on the phone. Just send your mom or your old college roommate a fast text message and let them know that you hope they’re doing okay and that you’re thinking about them.
14. Watch an inspirational video that helps you put things back into perspective.
There’s no shortage of videos online that you can watch when you’re feeling uninspired or listless or out of touch with the world. If you don’t know where to start, try a commencement speech first, and YouTube will help you with the rest. My personal favorite is Conan O’Brien’s commencement address to Dartmouth in 2011.
It’s free. It’s entertaining. It’s often funny. It’s everywhere. And it’s a great way to remind yourself that everybody out there is just as confused and stressed and harried as you are.
16. Make a list of five things you have to be grateful for at the end of the day.
Write it down if you want, or just go over it in your head before you fall asleep. It will force you to go through your entire day looking for things to be thankful for, and that’s never a bad way of looking at the world each day.