Usually close to my birthday I will look at the past year and reflect on what has changed and in which ways I have evolved.
And although reflection is an integral part of one’s growth, reflecting on the changes affected by aging isn't always our favourite thing. For that reason, I have created a sort of a mind map that involves every activity or thing that makes me more happy, healthy and fulfilled.
At times when I’m not feeling my best or as if I’m not in my own skin – I go to this list and see if I have done, experienced or felt the majority of the items listed in the last couple of weeks or months. It also keeps me in check when I feel any physical aches, my skin getting dry or mind running.
It was very fun to create, but it is more fun being able to use it. The first thing I do when I get the first sign of any of the previously mentioned worries or itches, literal or not, I go through the list, my “happy & healthy” list.
If the majority of the things haven’t been done – I know I haven’t been the best at doing the most fundamental things – caring for myself. And believe it or not, it all starts there.
Living in such a difficult time, with one tragedy being changed to another, I visit my list frequently. It’s been a while since I have created one so I can do it in my thoughts.
When was the last time I went out for a walk? Or read a few pages before bedtime? Have I been eating regularly and nutritiously? What is my screen time? Have I shaved, moisturised, washed my hair and body (yes, it makes me feel great)? Have I talked to my loved ones? Have I shared my feelings and expressed my worries? How is my hobby doing?
All of these simple joys of life make me feel good, happy, healthy and prevent from premature aging. It’s better than any anti-age skincare, I promise you!
Physical activity is always my number one pick. After having heard about the war in Ukraine, all I did was worry, read news and worry more. After two days of almost constant stress, I felt anxious and none of my house chores were touched.
I went through my list and as per usual, I hadn't indulged in any sports for the last 3 or 4 days. Being used to an active lifestyle, it isn't something that happens on a regular basis and when it does, my mind and body don't hesitate letting me know.
As stated in a recent (2019) Swedish study on health benefits from physical exercise: "Physical activity and exercise have significant positive effects in preventing or alleviating mental illness, including depressive symptoms and anxiety- or stress-related disease."
And I couldn't agree more! Going for a longer walk, breathing in some fresh air, a light run, some stretching, yoga or a full cardio/strength workout is absolutely an inevitably crucial part of my everyday life.
So I encourage you to make YOUR "happy & healthy" list! It can be an actual list or a mind map, a selection of drawings, digital or physical, whatever floats your boat!
To start with, think of one thing that is absolutely vital for you. Is it having some alone time with a book or on a walk? Is it gardening or perhaps a stretching session early in the morning? Maybe it's calling your loved one or taking a bath every night. Make sure to dedicate time for this regularly and keep yourself accountable.
Continue by thinking of 3 things that you can do once a week or every two/three weeks. Something that brings you absolute joy, yet isn't something you would be committed to doing every day, maybe it's even better to visit these things on a weekly basis. A hike if you're fortunate enough to live somewhere in the mountains? A trip to the beach? Long walk or having lunch with your friend? Maybe it's making time to clean your space and get everything tidy every Sunday.
And lastly, write down all of the things that bring you joy. Write down anything that comes to your mind, like a "brain dump".
Put it somewhere where you will have less chances of losing it or write it on your phone and revisit whenever it's needed. I hope it comes in handy and you get into a more structured routine of taking care of yourself both physically & mentally.
I hope you can find peace within these challenging times.
All the love,
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