ha. ha. ha.
I have to admit, the title of this blog is misleading. There are no five easy ways to improve your life, but if there’s anything I’ve found out in the last year… there are ways to improve your life if you take the steps and work for it. Not everyone is *~LiViNg tHeiR bEsT LiFe~* all the time, my friends. Instead, we can take small steps to improve our lives and become a better version of ourselves. This year, I think I’ve done just that and learned a bit along the way… I wanted to share!
- Find (and eliminate) your silent stressors.
- Pay your rent.
- Find time to devote to physical fitness.
- Learn to say ‘no.’
- Soak in the good stuff.
Now, like I said, these really aren’t five easy ways…. but I can provide some in-depth insight on each tidbit and provide a little clarification.
Find (and eliminate) your silent stressors.
I heard the term “silent stressors” first on SHE podcast with Jordan Lee Dooley (more to come on her… love her so much).
She discusses the idea that there are probably things stressing you out that you simply don’t even realize are stressing you out until you change them. I think the perfect example is how amazing it feels to crawl into fresh bed sheets. Everyone loves clean bedsheets: you don’t realize how icky the other sheets felt until you climb into fresh, wonderful sheets.
For me, it’s things like social media accounts that make me sad or angry. laundry. dishes. hair. clothes. tasks you wanted to accomplish but couldn’t make time, so they stay there waiting. All of these things can silently stress you out… and when they are gone, you feel a little weight lifted. And little by little, that weight adds up.
Find ways to recognize these factors in your own life and ways to eliminate them. Unfollow the accounts. (I promise you won’t miss them.) Clean on Sundays. Chop your hair. Donate the clothes. Find ways to get rid of all the weight of the world that silently resides on your shoulders.
Pay your rent.
Someone wise (that I can’t remember who… this is what happens when you try to absorb as much good advice as possible for an upcoming blog) stated that you cannot simply choose to live your passion and expect life to just work out. You’ll be poor.
Instead, you have to do the job that isn’t perfect in order to pay the bills. This isn’t me saying you can’t live your passion and actively pursue it — that’s what evenings and weekends are for! You can’t give up the day job until you can afford to live your life.
Not having money isn’t glamorous or fun. It’s not fun to be the friend that has to skip the movie because you can’t afford your life. Instead, you have to do what you can (work) so that your passionate, amazing, wonderful life can be all that it can be.
So perhaps a better phrasing for this tip: earn money so you can live your life.
My job at tech support for the last four years has definitely not been glamorous. Yesterday, while sick, I carried piles of dusty, old internet switches into the trash/storage facility at our university. Sneezes galore! However, this job has allowed me to pay my bills and live my life! (I also got to meet some amazing folks.) I am grateful for the opportunity to be a college student who goes to movies, goes out, traveled to Europe, and did a lot of really great things in my four years.
Find time to devote to physical fitness.
Nearly a year ago, I stepped foot into my gym. I bought a summer membership before ever taking a class – knowing that if I spent the money I would be more inspired to continue going. I got my butt kicked by my first class. I walked home with a friend, sweaty and smiling.
Fast forward to now: I crave the gym and how I feel after (not during!). The way it makes me love myself. The way it reminds me of my blessings. The way I feel strong and powerful.
I’m not necessarily saying you need to go out and join a gym: I’m just saying that your life will get better even with the smallest devotion to your physical fitness. Drink water. Buy a fitbit and set some goals. Do a ten minute workout every day. Join an online fitness program…. or join a gym. Find accountability. Do some squats, join a dance class, or walk outside. Do something that’s fun and doesn’t feel like a chore!
This commitment in yourself will pay you back ten-fold simply in the way you feel and how you feel when you look in the mirror. I haven’t lost a single pound…. but I feel fantastic. I’m plus sized… but I like the way my clothes fit and show my muscle. I’m curvy… but my curves are more defined and are in lots of good places. I feel great and I get stronger every day. This is definitely a tangible step to improving your life: make a commitment to yourself and stick with it.
What if, just this time, you don’t break a promise you make to yourself? Not out of punishment or penance for all the times you’ve fallen off your goals, but because you are worthy and deserving of good things and the only way you’ll understand that truth is if you follow through on your personal commitments.Rachel Hollis
Learn to say ‘no.’
My biggest piece of advice to my freshman collegiate self would be the simple statement, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.”
I tend to overcommit myself. And I’m a people-pleaser.
And sometimes, this works out in my favor, I can’t deny. There are circumstances, however, that could have been avoided by me saying no. Listening to my brain instead of my heart or vice versa.
I think that this is a simple task, but even I need to be reminded that it’s okay to say no to opportunities that don’t feel quite right.
If it isn’t a hell yes, it can be a no. Allow yourself to say no. It’s okay! Saying no may lead to an even better ‘yes’ down the road. It’s that simple.
Soak in the good stuff.
Last but not least… soak in the good stuff. This one’s fun, and perhaps a bit easier than the other steps.
Soak in the good:
- self-care activities
When I was going through some dark stuff, I only listened to Christian music. I wanted to soak in all the good.
While I have now returned to my typical listening pleasure of lady jams and pop hits (with jesus jams as well, of course)…. I’m still a firm believer in this mentality. I want to only surround myself with, and absorb, the good stuff. It’s important to me to take in the things that benefit me and make me smile.
I have a habit of when sunshine hits my face, I try to take a minute and turn my face upward and close my eyes. I soak it in… even for a brief moment.
I want to do this more, with every little aspect I can.
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve had a gratitude journal. I can’t commit to writing lengthy paragraphs at the moment (though I wish I could be the journal-writing gal I was in eighth grade), so instead I write one simple thing. Some days it’s a name, sometimes its a good food or memory of the day I hope to remember. This activity allows me to replay the day through from start to finish and soak in the very best parts of my day, even on the hard ones.
So there you have it, folks.
This year has been a year of impeccable personal growth and I can definitely say I am the best version of myself that I have ever been… but I can’t even begin to dream dreams big enough for the version of myself that I could be next year!
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