Mornings can be tough. Maybe you like to sleep in as long as you can, and end up getting ready for the day by running around your house like a crazed animal.
Maybe you have a basic routine you’ve been cycling through for years. Maybe you work from home and get to work right after splashing water on your face and brushing your teeth.
According to psychologist and Psych Central blogger Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D, in his newest book Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, our mornings set the stage for the rest of our days. So when the day is filled with bumps, a good morning can help us navigate those challenges.
Many of us leap into conclusions when it comes to our bodies. For instance, we assume that if a piece of clothing doesn’t fit us, it’s clearly our fault. It must be because we’re too curvy, our shoulders are too broad, our thighs are too big, our waist is too wide.
We do this with other things, activities and even people. Some of us play this blame game regularly. In the excellent book Yoga and Body Image, co-editor Anna Guest-Jelley shares the different ways she blamed her body.
I think eating mindfully is a beautiful way to take care of ourselves and to savor our lives. Eating mindfully simply means paying full attention to eating (or cooking or even washing the dishes).
Eating mindfully is a way for us to honor our bodies, to honor the process of nourishing ourselves. It’s a way to honor the rich, long process that goes into food arriving at our tables — from seeds sprouting in the earth to trucks bringing it to the store.
Here are some valuable insights, tips and reminders for eating mindfully from the book How to Eat by Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh.
I think bucket lists are wonderful. It’s important to have a place for contemplating and listing your ultimate dreams, for reflecting on the experiences, activities and actions that inspire you. The experiences, activities and actions you just know you need to do. The things that are calling you.
But I also love an idea I read about in Jennifer Louden’s latest book — A Year of Daily Joy: A Guided Journal to Creating Happiness Every Day, which is filled with beautiful quotes, tips, insights and images. The idea is to create a “thimble list.”
On the last pages of her book Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life From Dear Sugar Cheryl Strayed pens her response to the question: “What would you tell your twentysomething self if you could talk to her now?”
These are snippets of her wisdom:
“Feed yourself. Literally. The sort of people worthy of your love will love you more for this, sweet pea.”
“You don’t have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue. You are a writer because you write.”
I’ve had an on again, off again relationship with yoga. Years ago I’d attend yoga classes at my gym several times a week.
Today, I attend one class, and that’s after stopping for several months. Still I find yoga to be beautiful and very challenging. A big challenge for me is Savasana, the final pose in a yoga class.
As Cheryl Strayed writes in the book Going Om: Real-Life Stories On and Off the Yoga Mat, edited by Melissa Carroll, Savasana is known as “corpse” pose. Years ago, Strayed’s yoga instructor acknowledged that this is the most difficult pose — even though all you’re doing is lying down, on your mat, on your back.
In this post I mentioned that I do most things slowly. It’s something I’m learning to accept and embrace about myself.
Because we look down on slow. Slow supposedly sabotages efficiency and productivity. It means waiting. And we hate waiting. In lines. In traffic. For an email. For a package.
But slow isn’t inherently a bad thing. It can even have benefits.
When life gets busy and overwhelming and hard, it’s the simple and small rituals that can ground us. That can serve as an anchor. That can remind us of what is important. Of what is us.
Rituals become familiar actions, gestures we can lean on. They can calm us. They can help us to reflect. To get quiet when chaos swirls around us. And they can become a time we meet all kinds of needs (our need for stillness, serenity, solitude, spirituality).
In her book Expectation Hangover: Overcoming Disappointment in Work, Love and Life Christine Hassler includes a valuable tip for honoring our feelings. Sometimes, when negative feelings arise, we might not be able to experience them fully. We might be at work or with others.
That’s when scheduling a date with your feelings can help. Because setting a date means you’re not avoiding or suppressing your feelings. You’re honoring them at another time.
As Hassler writes, “Our feelings have feelings. I know that may sound strange but it’s true. When our feelings don’t feel they are acknowledged, they end up being recycled and coming back later, snowballing into a more intense feeling, or even manifesting as a health issue, to try and get our attention in another way.”
I think of play and creativity as a big part of self-care. Because with play and creativity come curiosity (about our bodies, our feelings, the world), humor, laughter, and simply a playful approach to life.
That is, instead of criticizing ourselves for being anxious or upset, we can get curious and explore why we’re feeling this way. We can explore where this feeling is in our body (your heart, your stomach).
We can marvel at our surroundings, because so much magic really does exist in our lives. It’s just a matter of using our senses fully.