Some time ago I started to notice that the people around me were missing out on six essential daily practices, despite having unlimited access to them. It’s funny to think about how simple these acts of self-care are, yet we so infrequently take the time to stop and reap their benefits:
So when you feel like life’s most basic necessities have become a luxury, try improving these six areas of your life:
- Sleep: most of us go through every day sleep deprived, barely managing to drag ourselves out of bed for work on weekdays and reserving the “luxury” of a good night’s sleep for the weekend. We begin to take pride in our ability to function on less and less sleep, when really we are depriving our bodies of valuable recovery time. The reality is, when we get enough sleep we end up eating better, working better and are generally better equipped to handle anything life throws at us.
- Eat: mindful eating is no longer a common practice in today’s society: we eat while on our phones, at our computers, and while we watch TV. Studies conducted over the past 20 years have shown that mindful eating helps to reduce overeating and bingeing, which in turn helps to stabilise blood sugar levels and reduce mood swings, cravings and crashes. Next time you sit down for a meal, try putting the electronics down and focusing on your food: chew each bite thoroughly, take breaks for water, and be mindful of the nutrients rejuvenating your body.
- Time: who has time anymore? This is one of my favourite free activities of all time?I hate when I have to say “I don’t have the time for that”, even though I say it a lot. I try to remind myself that the only time I really need to worry about is the present, that is, I have no control over the past or the future, so why worry about them? Instead, try to make the most of the free time you have and save some time to simply do nothing. You’ll feel refreshed, lighter and happier and when you take some time to relax and refresh yourself, it won’t feel so much like you haven’t got time for anything.
- Conversations: as free and easy as it may see to be, good conversation is scarce these days. Undivided attention, or even eye contact while speaking is rare and novel. I constantly find myself battling for attention against annoying mobile phones and short attention spans when I try to converse. It leaves me feeling odd, as though I’ve just tried to have a conversation with a TV. Next time you’re talking to a friend or colleague, try giving them your undivided attention and really connect with what they have to say. We would all be happier with a bit more human connection, and it’ll make your friends feel happy that you took the time to listen to them.
- Playtime: taking the time to play around and do silly things becomes less and less common as we grow up. We are so tightly scheduled, so busy, that letting loose and having fun now and again is a luxury we just can’t seem to squeeze into the calendar. We could all benefit from taking life a little bit less seriously, because life is too short not to. Every day shouldn’t feel like a chore, so save time to have fun.
- Laugh: how many times a day do you laugh? Studies have shown that adults laugh an average of 17 times as day, but I can tell you right now that these studies are wrong, because most of the adults I know laugh 0 times a day. Seriously, laughter is the best medicine! It’s not just a saying, it’s absolutely true. I did a laughter yoga session once, and at first I said I didn’t want to, because it sounded too hippie for me, but afterwards I felt lighter and happier! The human brain registers all laughter the same, whether it’s real or fake, so just going through the motions can make you happier. Everyone should have more joy in their life!
So, these are the six activities I think we should all start doing, because even though they’re free, it could cost you in the end.
Try to start making time for the things you enjoy, especially the things you’ve stopped doing because you’re “too busy”. Happiness is free, and it’s one of life’s most valuable qualities.