Where did September go?! I love October, and I’m stoked to celebrate turning 25 this week, but I’m still a little flummoxed at how fast this semester is already flying by. Despite everything on my plate (and it’s been a lot—partially my bad, partially the nature of grad school), I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much calmer I’ve felt this semester.
In back-to-school’s past, I was quite the stress ball inside, even if it didn’t show on the outside. Constant worry, constant perfectionism. Did it ultimately translate to accomplishment? Yes. But was it healthy? Absolutely not.
Maybe it’s the effect of approaching 25, but I feel shed of a lot of those old mental habits. More minimal. More peaceful. And more inspired. I’ve done a lot of reading in the past few months about productivity, time management, health, and spirituality—and, as a result of all that reading and some new personal breakthroughs about mindfulness, here are five rituals I can thank for my new state of mind.
- Indulge every day. Every day should include the little things. A piece of dark chocolate. A glass of wine. A fresh manicure. An episode of your favorite show. Give yourself a “just because” every day. Why? Because you just made it through an entire day of joys, frustrations, and hard work, so whatever it is, you deserve it.
- Sweat every day. Do some yoga, go for a run, take an epsom salt bath. You know the saying—“The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea.” We all accumulate frustrations and negativities throughout our day (that email, that meeting, what that person said). But instead of trying to ignore them and letting them fester, acknowledge them and go sweat them out.
- Make time. You know what for. We all have the same hours in a day as Beyoncé, as Emma Watson, as whoever your role model is. Time is all about how you allocate it, so don’t give up things or people you love because you “don’t have” time.
One of the ways this manifests for me is in reading. I’ve went through phases before where I was “so busy” that I “didn’t have time” to read for pleasure, and I was one craaanky Katie. So now I always have a novel on my nightstand, and after I set my alarm for the next morning, I read. Sometimes I’m up another hour, sometimes I barely make it through a chapter, but it doesn’t matter—it's what my mind needs.
- Set intentions. This is a practice I found through yoga, and it’s been a game-changer. When you set intentions, you hold yourself accountable. For a week, a day, or even an hour. Intentions give us mantras to come back to for encouragement and strength; they help us ascribe meaning to our day and ultimately be more present.
- Silence your phone. Yeah. This one’s a toughie. But it works. Ever have that experience of getting so absorbed in writing a paper/working on a business plan/painting/etc. that you literally forget about time? You suddenly realize hours have passed and you were so in the zone with your work or hobby that you didn’t even notice? Our phones usually snap us out of this zone even before we’re even properly in it—so why not take back control over the biggest source of our distraction?
I keep my phone on silent more often than not now, and when I’m hunkered down to work, I just check it when I’m done or when I need a break. The snapchats, updates, and messages are all still there. We’re so consumed with being connected, but it’s a fine line between being available and being powerless over your ability to focus because of your phone. My dad will sometimes walk to a coffee shop near his office with just a notepad and pen when he needs an hour to think clearly; my good friend Zoey puts her phone physically out of reach when she settles in to study for her CPA. We have a million blessings in having cell phones, apps, and social media—but we can’t be afraid to disconnect when productivity awaits.
Cream Blouse (Talbots); Minnie pant (J.Crew); d'Orsay flat (Boden); nylon tote (Burberry)