There are myriad psychology models and theories on what motivates us to do the things we do: how we respond to incentives, achievement theories, and so on.
I look at motivation as excitement. So how can you remain motivated in a simple way that works every single day? Here are 10 ways.
1. Take a break–you deserve it.
The only way we can perform at an optimal level is create time for rest. The moment you know you can’t take any time off is usually when you need it most.
So take that long delayed vacation, and return to your business with renewed enthusiasm.
2. Keep your cards close to your chest.
Finally running that marathon? Excited about your new diet? Bursting at the seams over your new project? Good. Keep it to yourself.
Announcing your intent to do these feats will backfire. Resist the urge to reap the barrage of Facebook likes, and gushing comments. The positive feedback you receive from your network will trick your brain into thinking you’ve already accomplished your goal, sabotaging your once-motivated brain to do said feat.
So keep it to yourself and share the good news once you’ve already done it.
3. Confront death, and define your legacy.
Death is a powerful motivator. We get bogged down in mindless activities. They make us feel like we’re accomplishing things, when in reality we’re just spinning in circles.
Knowing that you have finite time on this planet helps sharpen your focus. Everything we do is another step in defining our legacy. This may seem like heady posturing, but both can be powerful motivators.
4. Celebrate the little wins, no matter how small.
Little wins may seem like just that–little.
Celebrating these wins can help to create positive habits. You break the inertia of mediocrity by teaching everyone around you how to win. They get the chance to bask in that emotion.
Vishen Lakhiani, CEO of Mindvalley, has gone so far as implementing what he calls the “awesome bell.” Which he rings (you guessed it) anytime something awesome happens.
5. Slash your to-do list in half.
Slashing your aggressive to-do list in half will allow room for success. Knowing that it’s realistic for you to complete the list is empowering.
6. Be gentle with yourself.
Stop comparing the accomplishments in your life with those of your neighbor. The story you create in your head will never be as good, and the reality will never be as bad.
There are many people who are smarter than you. The moment you can embrace this notion, you’re free. Free to explore. Free to follow what excites you. Free to ignore what they do, or how they do it, and focus on you.
7. Hack the way your brain perceives your new habits.
Recently, I began waking up two hours earlier than usual during the week. Instead of viewing it as two hours less I get to sleep, I view it as two extra hours to my day, allowing me to add a full workday per week.
8. Embrace vulnerability.
We live in a culture where we horde Instagram followers, and Facebook likes. The perception of our lives being anything less than perfect is a daunting notion. The glossy Facebookification of our lives can create a dangerous facade of success.
Sharing defeats and admitting failure is a powerful cultivator of motivation, allowing you to move past the failure. Work through the emotion instead of taking it out on someone else. Then move on to something more constructive.
Sharing these vulnerable moments also cultivates deeper connection with peers.
9. Do what you love (sort of).
Find what it is you love to do and get proficient at it. Success dwells at the fulcrum of passion and excellence.
But be careful. Make sure that you can make a living from your passion. I’m passionate about a lot of things that I know I’m not so amazing at and that I definitely can’t make a living at. I love playing guitar. My daughter loves when I play songs from the movie Frozen. It’s fun. I’m never going to be a rock star.
There is a an anecdote I’ve heard about Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Gates’s father at a dinner party. A guest asked them what the most important quality for success was today and all three responded “Focus” at the same exact time. They all smiled and laughed to each other because they hadn’t really prepared the answer.
We are all inundated with texts and emails. These are no longer just work interruptions. Because of the mini-computers we carry around in our pockets, the flood of information distracts us wherever we happen to be, 24/7.
So turn off your iPhone, stop trolling your ex-lover’s Facebook page, and get to work.
One of those days again: Your alarm goes off, you open your eyes, and all you want is snuggling back into your sheets and sleep a few more minutes.
But duty calls, so you get up, wash your face, and grab your first cup of coffee to compensate for the lack of recovery from the night. What follows are hours of operating in automatic mode just to get through the morning before you actually feel awake.
While we all know how this daunting scenario feels, a lack of sleep doesn’t only come with short-term sacrifices. In the long run, sleep deprivation significantly harms your health and productivity.
According to Shawn Stevenson, there’s no facet of your mental, emotional, or physical performance that’s not affected by the quality of your sleep.
Contrary to what you might think, sleep is an active process. During the night, our brain processes everything we saw, heard, and learned throughout the day. Additionally, our immune system gets strengthened, our metabolism gets regulated, and our damaged cells are being repaired.
That’s why high-quality sleep boosts your entire day’s output and ultimately increases the quality of your life.
Even though great days start the night before, the majority of today’s population is chronically sleeping deprived and suffering from low quality sleep.
Yet, besides a balanced diet and sports, sleep is the ultimate key to creating mental and physical balance.
According to studies, a lack of sleep leads to less creativity, more stress, and underperformance. This lack of rest leads to millions of people not living up to their full potential because they’re tired.
While many young people get trapped in a hustle mentality, thinking they’d accomplish more if they cut down on their sleep, the reality is the contrary: If done correctly, sleep can be the ultimate performance hack.
Minimizing your sleep to have more hours to work will backfire rather sooner than later.
Yet, also lots of sleep will barely lead to an energized body and a clear mind. Instead, it’s the qualityof your sleep that impacts your recovery.
And while being awake is a state of using energy, sleeping is anabolic, it builds us up and fuels us with the needed energy to get through the next day.
“You will factually work better, be more efficient, and get more stuff done when you’re properly rested.”
— Shawn Stevenson
Even though sleep optimization might sound complicated, it can be quite simple. A few uncomplicated habits can already lead to improved recovery and more energy throughout your days.
Understand Sleep Patterns and Build Routines
Even though many successful people and books preach waking up early, getting up at 5 AM is certainly not the holy grail to a successful day or life.
For many people, mornings are the only time when they can focus on side projects or their personal growth. Yet, when you wake up and when you go to bed, don’t matter as much as you might think. The only thing that matters in terms of productivity is how you spend the hours in between.
So instead of focusing on when to wake up, aim to maximize your energy and make the most of your time awake.
Our bodies love routines; that’s why going to bed and waking up at the same time massively affects your recovery.
Abnormalities might happen every now and then, but sticking to regular sleep patterns and going to bed at the same time will help you to fall asleep faster and wake up more refreshed.
Be Aware of Sleep Phases
While sleeping, we pass five different stages of sleep. These different stages of light and deep sleep form so-called sleep cycles, and each stage has different characteristics.
Stage 1 & 2: These are the light sleep phases. During these stages, our body temperature, and blood pressure drop, and we slowly fall asleep. Stage 1 is a transition phase between being awake and sleeping and only makes up to 5% of each night. During this time, we wake up easily.
Stage 2 is accountable for up to 55% of our sleep time. That’s when our brain activity slows down, and waking up becomes harder.
Stage 3 & 4: These stages are considered deep sleep. Our brain activity drops to a minimum, and recovery processes are at a high. Thus, these stages are the most important for getting the ultimate rest and recovery.
Stage 5: The last stage is also called REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase. During this phase, our eyes move, we dream, and our brain activity is at its high.
After completing these five stages, a new sleep cycle starts.
Each cycle lasts for around 90 minutes, which means we usually repeat these cycles four to six times per night.
Four such sleep cycles would lead to six hours of sleep while six cycles account for nine hours.
Okay, but why does that matter?!
Well, understanding sleep cycles matters because when you wake up influences your energy levels. Waking up in the middle of a deep sleep stage will make you feel worse for wear, waking up during a light sleep period will lead to an energized morning.
In short: Being ripped out of deep sleep will cause you to feel less energized than waking up during a light sleep period.
How to do it:
As you know that each sleep cycle takes around 90 minutes, you can set your alarm accordingly. Instead of waking up in the middle of a cycle, ensure that your alarm rings when a cycle is fully completed.
Rather than aiming for the standard eight hours of sleep, make sure you complete your sleep cycle and don’t get ripped off of a deep sleep phase.
The easiest and most effective way to understand and take control over your sleep cycle is by using smart devices such as a watch or ring to track your sleep. Yet, even most smartphones can track your sleep if you place them close to your pillow.
If you, however, don’t want to make use of devices, work with the 90-minute rule and calculate when your alarm should ring based on getting a full sleep cycle rather than waking up in the middle of a deep sleep phase.
So, if you go to bed at 10.30 PM, rather set your alarm for 6 AM, instead of 6.30.
Soak Up Sunlight
Studies show that getting more sunlight throughout the day can help to sleep better at night.
We have a built-in 24-hour clock, the so-called “circadian timing system” inside our bodies that helps us to regulate day and night time.
Sunlight signals alertness to our brain and triggers the production of daytime hormones, which are responsible for regulating our biological clock. Thus, too little light during the day and excessive light exposure (e.g., through screens) at night influence the quality of your sleep negatively.
How to do it:
Whenever possible, get your body out and soak up some sunlight early in the morning. This will help to regulate your inner clock and differentiate between daytime and nighttime more easily.
You can, for instance, get to work a little earlier and walk the last mile, take your breaks outside or at least close to a window, or implement a short walk as your new morning routine.
Avoid Blue Light
The artificial blue light emitted by our screens has a negative influence on our sleep patterns as it harms the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps us to fall asleep with ease and sleep well.
Due to the exposure to artificial lighting, our bodies can barely differentiate between day and night. Thus, falling asleep is more difficult after staring at our screens late at night.
Engaging with our devices late at night keeps our brains alert and harms the quality of our rest. And even though watching your favorite movie or typing a few messages might not seem like a big deal, it is.
Browsing through the web is keeping your brain active while all you need after a busy day is to disconnect and unwind.
“Disconnecting from our technology to reconnect with ourselves is absolutely essential.”
— Arianna Huffington
How to do it:
Whenever possible, avoid screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Experts even recommend avoiding artificial light through screens 90 minutes before bedtime.
Instead, practice activities that help you calm down, such as reading, stretching exercises, meditation, or any other calming hobby.
If you really can’t stop using your devices, install a blue light blocker on your screens (e.g., f.lux). By doing so, the blue light of your screens will turn into a red light, which is less harmful to your body and sleep. Most phones already have a “night feature”, which also reduces the blue light that is emitted.
Alternatively, you can also grab a pair of blue light blocking glasses.
Darken Your Bedroom
In addition to avoiding screens, dimming the lights of your bedroom will also improve the quality of your sleep.
If exposed to too much bright light, your body doesn’t know if it’s day or night. Thus, sleeping becomes harder, and the quality of the rest drops. Sleeping in an utterly dark room, however, will help you to fall asleep faster and wake up fully recovered.
How to do it:
If possible, completely darken your room through (roll-up) curtains. If that isn’t possible, grab a pair of sleeping masks. These are cheap and effective, plus, you can take them wherever you go, which makes them a great companion during travels.
In addition to light, also minimize noises in your bedroom. If you have any digital devices in your bedroom, unplug them and ensure silence during the night.
How to do it:
Close all doors and windows that might lead to unnecessary noises during the night. Additionally, make sure to mute or unplug all devices that might be noisy.
If avoiding noises isn’t possible, get used to earplugs: Just like sleeping masks, these are cheap and effective, plus, you can take them wherever you go, which makes high-quality sleep during travels easier.
Similar to light and sounds, our body temperature has a significant influence on the quality of our sleep.
When we go to bed, our body temperature usually drops so that we can fall asleep easier. If the temperature in the bedroom, however, is too high, falling asleep becomes challenging.
According to studies, the ideal room temperature for high-quality sleep is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit or 20 degrees Celsius.
However, in addition to the temperature of your bedroom, you should be cool too, meaning you should let go of all negativity and tension in your mind and body.
We all face negative experiences throughout our days. Even if you are an unbroken optimist, you’ll come across annoying people. And it can be hard to control our emotions throughout the day. Yet, at the latest, before going to bed, let go of all the negativity you faced during the day.
How to do it:
Make sure to cool your bedroom down before going to bed. Also, don’t wear thick clothing for sleep. Instead, let your skin breathe.
Additionally, do things that help you cool down mentally before bedtime.
Activities such as meditation or journaling can help you to let go of negative experiences and focus on the positive, even if you had a tough day.
If you want to take it one step further, you can write all your anger down on a piece of paper and burn it down. Literally, burn the piece of paper, but be cautious (e.g., do it in the sink). By doing so, you physically let go of the problem.
Other activities to calm down before bedtime are reading or listening to audiobooks.
Sleep at the Right Hours
One of the least known “sleep hacks” is the fact that our bodies recover most by sleeping between 10 PM and 2 AM.
Sleeping during this time will amplify the quality of your rest and help you feel more energized in the morning.
According to Shawn Stevenson, that’s based on the fact that we are part of nature. We are simply designed to sleep when it gets dark.
How to do it:
The 10 PM to 2 AM recommendation might vary depending on time zones, the time of the year, and other influences. Yet, the core idea is simple: Get to bed within a few hours of it getting dark outside.
“Timing your sleep is like timing an investment in the stock market — it doesn’t matter how much you invest, it matters when you invest.”
— Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary
Avoid Excessive Exercising
Heavy exercising before bedtime isn’t favorable as it boosts your metabolism, pumps your heart rate, and makes it difficult to calm down right before bedtime.
While an excessive workout in the evening might harm the quality of your sleep, a massage, and some stretching can be priceless.
Stretching and massaging your body with a foam roller will not only improve the quality of your sleep, but also help to calm down, connect with your intuition, and let go of tension.
Particularly if you have an office job and spend most of your days sitting, your body will thank you for releasing muscle tightness at the end of your day.
Besides the benefits of typical stretching exercises, a foam roller helps ease muscle pain, increase flexibility and blood flow, and help you relax.
How to do it:
If you want to do something good for your body right before going to bed, choose yoga or stretching exercises. Turn on some calming music and help your body to let go of tension. Not only your body, but also your mind will calm down, which is highly beneficial to have a night of high-quality sleep.
Avoid Big Meals and Caffeine Before Bedtime
Eating late can lead to inflammation and impairments in blood sugar regulation. Thus, whenever possible, avoid eating late at night. Your sleep, your body, and your performance will undoubtedly reward you.
However, if you should need to eat close to bedtime, make sure to consume protein-rich foods instead of carb-loaded, fatty meals.
In addition, avoid caffeinated drinks in the afternoon so that your body can get rid of the caffeine until bedtime.
Overconsumption of caffeine often leads to sleep problems, which leaves you tired, which again leads to more caffeine consumption, and soon you find yourself in a doom loop between coffee and bad sleep.
How to do it:
Instead of a late-night snack, you can drink herbal teas that help to sleep better. Chamomile tea, for instance, is known for its antidepressant qualities, and lavender tea reduces stress and anxiety.
Additionally, ensure to have some high-protein snacks at home in case you get hungry and want to eat something close to bedtime.
Depending on your body and what precisely you consume, caffeine usually has a half-life of around 5–8 hours. This means that half of the substance will be removed from your body in 5–8 hours. That’s why you should stop drinking coffee at noon or in the early afternoon to ensure your body gets rid of the caffeine until bedtime.
Preparing for high-quality sleep doesn’t need to be complex, long, or exhausting.
On the contrary: It can be short and fun. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by all these ideas about what you could do to improve your sleep, have fun experimenting with them at your own speed. Keep what works for you and screw the rest.
What to avoid:
Avoid or reduce blue lights that are emitted by screens.
Avoid excessive exercising shortly before bedtime, choose yoga or stretching instead.
Avoid big meals for at least two hours before bedtime.
Avoid caffeine in the (late) afternoon.
Avoid waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle and being ripped off of a deep sleep phase.
What to do:
Understand your sleep patterns and build a consistent sleep schedule.
Get some sunlight early in the morning.
Darken your room and minimize all noises.
Cooldown the temperature in your bedroom.
Calm your mind and let go of negativity, for example, through meditation, reading, or journaling.
Get to bed within a few hours of it getting dark outside.
Take your time to experiment with different rituals until you find one that fits your needs and helps you to live a happier, more joyful life.
Choose one or two new routines and try different combinations until you find a pattern that helps you maximize your wellbeing and performance throughout your days.
If taken seriously, short quotes can help us live healthier, happier, and more peaceful lives. Yet most of the time, all we do is get inspired for a few seconds and then move on with our busy lives.
Even though a spark of inspiration can be valuable, quotes only become truly powerful when we take time to reflect on their meaning and see how we can make use of them.
If used correctly, those tiny lessons can have a lasting effect on how we live, love, and make sense of life.
They can help us overcome challenges and spark hope when everything seems meaningless.
“If you resist change, you resist life. “ — Sadhguru
Most people waste their lives trying to “play it safe” because they fear changes and unexpected challenges.
Yet the truth is, you can’t run away from change because it’s a crucial part of life.
Life is an unpredictable journey and we can’t ever know what will happen tomorrow, next week, or even next year.
How to use this:
Instead of looking at change with fear, embrace it as a vital force in your life.
Things change all the time anyway — whether you like it or not. But instead of trying to resist, you can choose to welcome new opportunities with joy.
“If you’re always trying to be normal, you’ll never know how amazing you can be.” — Maya Angelou
We often hold ourselves back because we’re afraid of standing out and being different.
Instead, we try to fit in, even if that means feeling miserable deep inside.
The truth is, you were not born to “fit in.”
Yet, that’s not what society tells you. Instead, they tell you to live life a certain way: Go to school, graduate, get a “safe” job, get married, have kids, please everyone around you but yourself, retire, and die without ever fulfilling your own dreams.
According to most people, that’s the formula for a perfectly “safe” life. If you follow it, your parents and their friends might be proud of you.
But what about you?
Is that how you want to live?
Why do we normalize a certain way of living and demonize anyone who steps out of that boring pattern to live life according to their own rules?
How to use this:
Normality often seems the safest way, but it can quickly become the most dangerous path — especially if it doesn’t align with your needs.
You deserve to make your own choices based on your dreams, goals, and strengths.
Just because others are living life a certain way doesn’t mean that’s how you need to do it.
Step out of boring patterns. Do you.
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four-hour days.” — Zig Ziglar
When we say “I don’t have time,” we usually mean “It’s not a priority” or “I can’t make time for it.”
Yet the truth is, we all have enough time if we’re just careful about how we use it.
Surveys show that we spend almost 4 hours per day on our phones.
Just imagine how much more we could do if we minimized the hours spent scrolling through news feeds every day.
How to use this:
If you feel like “you don’t have time,” start to religiously plan your weeks and days.
On Sundays, plan the week ahead and set three core priorities that’ll help you achieve your long-term goals.
Each evening, set three specific goals for the upcoming day, which will help you accomplish your weekly priorities.
If you have no idea how you’re using your time, start tracking your productive hours with a simple time tracker.
“Only put off until tomorrow what you’re willing to die having left undone.” — Pablo Picasso
We often keep ourselves busy “doing things” yet procrastinate on the few tasks that would truly matter.
Most people are so afraid of facing the truths in life that they choose to keep themselves busy, so they never “have time” to do the hard things.
They don’t follow their heart, stay stuck in careers they hate, and barely show love.
Even though we all have goals and dreams, most of us never dare to fight for them and thus stay stuck in daily lives we don’t enjoy.
How to use this:
Instead of fighting through endless to-do lists, pause and ask yourself which important moments and conversations you’ve been putting off for too long.
Each week, make time for at least one such conversation or activity.
“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” — Gandhi
So many people believe they need to be bold and relentless to achieve anything valuable.
And quotes like “Nice guys finish last” just make our insecurities worse because we start to think we need to be mean to “win” in life.
Yet, as Gandhi preached more than 50 years ago, we can shake the world by being gentle, soft, and kind. And that’s mostly because shaking the world starts by shaking ourselves and those around us.
How to use this:
If you want to impact the world, start by first impacting your own life.
Stand up for yourself and show us what to do by doing it first.
Contrary to common belief, we can influence millions of people by being kind, compassionate, and caring.
In the 21st century, we’re all lacking love and deeper connection, so if you can show up and convince even just a few people of your good intentions, you’ll soon be able to start an entire movement that might shape more people than you ever thought possible.
“Everything we do is infused with the energy with which we do it. If we’re frantic, life will be frantic. If we’re peaceful, life will be peaceful.” — Marianne Williamson
Our energy shapes every aspect of our lives: It influences how we communicate, how we show up for ourselves, how we take care of our loved ones, how we get things done, and how we ultimately feel.
You can add energy and enthusiasm to the most mundane tasks of your life and ensure you stay on top of your game regardless of external circumstances.
How to use this:
There’s a saying that goes, “How you do one thing is how you do everything.”
The truth is, the majority of our lives aren’t exciting.
Most of our days are spent with basic, boring activities like work, cooking, eating, running errands, cleaning up, and so on.
Yet regardless of what exactly we do, we can always decide to show up and infuse our desired energy into our days.
Instead of being frantic, we can choose to be peaceful and calm.
Instead of being annoyed, we can choose to be compassionate and kind.
And instead of blaming ourselves when things go wrong, we can choose love and forgiveness.
“Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have.” — Robert Holden
We often blame others for “not treating us right,” yet we’re usually the ones who treat ourselves worst.
We don’t take our needs seriously, prioritize others instead of ourselves, and barely take time to nourish our deepest needs.
And instead of looking within, we get mad at our partner, friends, or family for not taking care of us.
How to use this:
If you want to be treated with respect and love, you must first love yourself.
We’re teaching the world around us how we want to be treated by showing them how we treat ourselves.
Take time to explore your needs by reflecting and journaling.
Cancel appointments if you think they’ll make you feel worse instead of better.
Speak the truth and show up for your desires, even if they might sound ridiculous to others.
This is your life, and you only have one shot at creating a reality you truly enjoy. Trust yourself and give yourself the love you deserve before expecting anyone else to do it for you.
“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” — Pablo Picasso
I’m an online writing coach and teach new writers how to build an audience by sharing their expertise or passion online.
One of the questions I hear a lot is: “What if it doesn’t work?”
And I usually reply by asking: “Well, what if it *does* work?”
Most of us are so used to “playing it safe” that we want to know our efforts will be “worth it” before even lifting a finger.
We don’t want to give more than we might receive. That’s also why so many people struggle with their relationships.
They expect 50/50, but the truth is, strong relationships aren’t always balanced.
Sometimes, you need to give 80 and only get back 20, while other times, it’ll be the other way around.
If you can’t deal with the fact that you’ll never know whether your hard work will pay off or not, you’ll struggle to break out of your existing patterns.
How to use this:
Big goals usually require big action and risks.
Whether that’s building your own business, getting a new job, or making fundamental changes in your relationships, you always need to do the work without knowing whether it’ll be worth it.
But instead of wondering, “What if it doesn’t work?” you can ask yourself: “Well, what if it *does* work out exactly how I want?!”
“Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.” — Dalai Lama
We want to “succeed” at all costs and ignore everything we need to give up to achieve our goals.
You can always go “the extra mile” and do a little more, but the question is: What do you need to give up?
The truth is, every decision we make comes with its own sacrifices.
Whenever you say yes to something, you’re saying no to many other things.
How to use this:
Next time you’re setting or reviewing goals, ask yourself what you’ll need to give up to achieve them and whether it’s still worth it.
If you have to give up your peace of mind, favorite hobby, and quality time with your loved ones to get a raise or build a side hustle, you might want to rethink that goal.
Each decision comes with its own effects. The earlier we consider those effects, the sooner we can avoid frustration in the future.
Be aware of your goals, but also be mindful of what you’re not willing to give up.
When we feel stuck, we usually crave huge changes. We want to make radical shifts to turn our lives upside down because we believe that’s the only way to move forward.
Yet, in reality, those massive shifts rarely lead to sustainable changes. Instead, we often feel overwhelmed and readopt our old patterns very soon, which only leads to more frustration.
The good news is, we can rely on small yet consistent changes to help us regain our power over time. This might take a little longer, but it’ll lead to a more fulfilled and peaceful life in the long run.
Stick to the 80% rule for better health
According to the World Health Organization, more than one billion people worldwide are obese.
The main reasons for that shocking number are obvious: We spend most of our days seated and consume much more calories than needed.
And most of the time, we overeat because we’re so used to processed foods and huge portions — especially when eating outside.
In Okinawa, one of the five Blue Zones where people often live up to 100 years or even more, the population follows the 80% rule: They only eat until they’re about 80% full.
This is powerful because research proves it takes 15–20 minutes for our brains to realize we’re full. So if you stop when you feel like you’ve reached 80%, you’ll likely feel 100% full after a few minutes anyway.
However, you’ll avoid overeating and feeling tired after each meal.
Log out of apps you should be using less
If you want to spend less time on your phone but don’t want to delete certain apps altogether, log out.
Next time you want to use the app, you’ll be reminded of your good intentions and can consciously decide whether you really want to use it.
Don’t leave empty-handed
Whenever you leave a room, take something that doesn’t belong there with you.
E.g., When leaving the bedroom, take empty cups, bottles, or dirty laundry with you and put them in the right place. This will help keep your home tidy and organized at all times with minimal extra effort.
Keep a virtual shopping list on your phone
I started to use a virtual shopping list called Hngrya few years ago.
This simple habit has helped me save so much time: Whenever I realize we’re about to run out of something, I immediately add it to the list: soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, candles, pasta — whatever.
Next time I go shopping, I know exactly what I need to buy.
Since using the app, I’ve never run out of anything.
Plus, using a virtual shopping list has many more benefits: You have a better overview of what you need and make fewer unnecessary purchases, which helps reduce waste and save money.
By knowing what you need, you’re also less tempted to buy sweets and highly processed foods. And most importantly, it makes your shopping experience a lot easier because you spend less time thinking about what you need.
The #1 time and energy saver
While talking about groceries, let me share two more habits that helped me make a profound change: Meal planning and prepping.
Every Sunday, I create a weekly meal plan and write down what I’ll eat next week. I’m not a talented chef and don’t enjoy cooking, so I purchased meal plans full of simple and healthy recipes I like.
As I don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen, I always cook bigger batches, so I can eat the same meal at least twice.
Without meal plans, I easily opt for processed, unhealthy foods — especially if I need to make choices when I’m already hungry.
But if I’m well prepared, I can easily stick to a healthy, nutritious, and simple plan.
By eating healthily, I feel better, have more mental clarity, and am more energized overall.
Be kind (even if the other person isn’t)
Instead of taking other people and their work for granted, try to show kindness and compassion.
This isn’t always easy, but most of the time, it’ll help you engage in genuine conversations and solve problems much quicker.
Just because someone reacts rudely doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. They might be having a bad day or might’ve received bad news just recently.
Train your “kindness muscle” by reminding yourself that someone else’s behavior is barely a reaction to you but just a reflection of how they feel deep inside.
If you can get it done within 2 minutes, do it
Whenever you have an annoying task to complete that won’t take you more than 1–2 minutes, do it right away.
By procrastinating and whining about it, you’ll only get even more annoyed and waste mental energy. Once it’s done, you can happily get it out of your mind and focus on more important tasks.
Stick to water as your go-to drink
You can save loads of calories and money by drinking water instead of pretty much anything else.
There’s no harm in drinking a cup of coke or orange juice occasionally when you really crave it, but make sure you don’t pour those immense volumes of sugar into your body regularly.
Water is simple, cheap, and healthy, so train yourself to choose it more often.
Get used to complimenting other people
Cheering for others and highlighting their positive traits is a superpower.
Most people are stuck with a scarcity mindset and believe they must compete with others. Yet, the truth is, life is abundant, and we can all get what we want while being nice to each other.
Instead of looking at others with jealousy, try to share your genuine thoughts with them.
If you like how someone looks, tell them. They might’ve spent years losing weight and working out, so your compliment might make their day.
If you realize someone’s making an effort at work, tell her. She might’ve been up all night to finish a presentation, and you might be the only one to acknowledge her hard work.
Life could be much more beautiful if we all supported each other and shared more compliments instead of hate.
Sleep can be the solution to most of your problems
According to CDC, almost 40% of adult Americans don’t get enough sleep.
And while most people don’t even take sleep seriously, the truth is that we can eliminate many of our daily problems just by sleeping better and longer.
If we’re sleep-deprived, we’re more prone to gaining weight but also more irritable, anxious, and mentally exhausted.
To ensure you get a good rest, go to bed at the same time every night. In the long run, this will help you fall asleep easily because your body will get used to a specific schedule.
Also, ensure to sleep in a dark room (or use a sleep mask), avoid eating big meals at least 1–2 hours before going to bed, and don’t take your phone to the bedroom.
Also, allow yourself to slow down at least an hour before bedtime so your body can adjust.
If possible, take the stairs
As someone who’s working from home, I move very little during an average workday. So when I do get outside, I try to make the most of my time by walking most distances and taking the stairs whenever possible.
For me, it’s a simple way to get some extra steps in without much extra effort.
If you’re struggling with money, track your expenses
Most people widely underestimate how much money they spend on luxuries like eating out or new clothes every month.
They work hard for their money but don’t pay much attention to how they spend it.
If you ever feel like you have no idea where your money went, start to religiously track your expenses for at least 2 to 3 months.
I used an app called Toshl to keep track of every penny for two years. This helped me realize that eating out and making random impulse purchases were the two major expenses I could control if I wanted to save money.
Your insights might be totally different: You might be paying for subscriptions you don’t even use or spending lots of money to replace broken items in your home every month.
The problem is, you won’t know unless you document your expenses. And the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be able to make changes.
Keep a tiny diary
A few years ago, I came across a “One Line A Day Journal,” which is a tiny notebook to summarize your day in just a few lines.
Each page represents a day of the year: the first page is January 1st, the second is January 2nd, and so on.
In my journal, each page is divided into five sections, which means I’ll be able to use it for five years.
I started in 2021, so next year, when I open the page for January 1st, I’ll see my entries from 2021 and 2022 and then put my 2023 thoughts on the same page.
This is a great way to keep track of your life without a huge time commitment.
It literally takes you one minute to sum up how you feel and what you did on a particular day. Yet, it’s a fantastic way to reflect on the previous years and the progress you’ve made over time.
Each year, the journal reminds you of wonderful memories you’ve made and challenges you’ve overcome.
Take full control of what you see online
On average, we spend 3 to 4 hours per day staring at our phones.
And the truth is, most people allow their phones to make them feel worse instead of better.
Here’s a mantra I wish more people would be aware of: Nobody has the right to stress you out on your own phone.
If I see a post I don’t like, I’ll unfollow the author, so they don’t show up on my feed again.
If someone leaves a disrespectful comment on anything I publish, I won’t even waste a second before I block them.
I wouldn’t let a person enter my home and act rudely, so I also don’t let them do the same online.
If you think you have the right to piss me off, I’ll use my right to ensure you can’t do it in the future.
Your phone can be a powerful tool and help you live a better life, but you need to control how you use it.
What’s the point of constantly seeing posts you fundamentally disagree with?
If we spend so much time scrolling through news feeds, we can at least ensure the content we see makes us feel good instead of bad.
Think about the last time you had a really productive day—when you made a number of important decisions, crossed off key to-dos, and reached out to a few new connections. That felt good, right? Now think about a day when you felt as if you got nothing meaningful done. Maybe you sent out next steps after a series of back-to-back meetings, spent half a day listening to your coworkers vent, or researched Slack icebreakers instead of industry trends. At the end of that day, you weren’t sure what you’d accomplished, but you certainly felt very busy doing it.
You had the same amount of hours on both of those days, but in one scenario, you were in control and crossed off tasks that had a bigger impact on your company or career. In the other, unexpected distractions and assignments that don’t clearly ladder up to larger goals took up much of your attention. The latter are what I call distractors and fillers: the extraneous tasks and time sucks that prevent you from doing work that matters.
There are three phases to taking back control of your time: assessing how you’re spending it, deciding what you should keep doing, and learning to say no to everything else while still being a team player. The last part is often the trickiest because being helpful at work and nurturing relationships with your coworkers are both vital to your career growth. The key is to be mindful and kind about the choices you make.
Here’s a simple roadmap to help you reprioritize your time while still being a good colleague:
Phase 1: Assess your time.
Before you do anything else, you’ll need to take notice of your distractors and identify your most common time fillers.
Distractors are tasks indirectly related to your work that prevent you from focusing on your priorities. They’re inevitable but not always proportionate. Women, for example, are often loaded with the additional roles of emotional therapist, culture builder, and conflict resolver. And distractors tend to revolve around people and culture—like getting stuck in never-ending conversations or recognizing that an employee needs a pick-me-up. In a silo, these tasks can serve an important purpose in helping people feel connected, but they become a problem when they take over your to-do list. Write your distractors down.
Fillers are tasks that are directly related to work but often aren’t highly valued and don’t help you advance your career. In other words, they’re not the kinds of projects that lead to recognition, raises, or promotions. Instead, they include “office housework” items like scheduling the follow-up meeting, taking the notes, or otherwise being the memory keeper, organizer, or person who keeps the trains on track but goes unnoticed. List these fillers out, too.
Phase 2: Decide what to keep doing and what to stop.
Look at your list of fillers and distractors and start to evaluate how essential these items are to realizing your career goals. As you look at each task, ask yourself these questions:
Does this support one of my personal or professional goals?
Is this a fundamental part of my job description?
Does this give me access to a valuable connection or a different part of the business?
Does it bring me joy?
If you answer “yes” to at least one of the questions, then there’s room for that item on your to-do list and it’s worth making time for it. If not, add it to your “to-don’t” list.
Now, I wish you could just add stuff to your to-don’t list and—poof!—it disappears. Some things you might be able to just stop doing. Others may require buy-in from your manager or delegation to someone else. For each item on your to-don’t list, add the first thing you need to do to get it off your plate. For instance, next steps could include: call the head of a task force to discuss stepping down from a committee role or set up a conversation with your manager to discuss your goals and priorities.
Phase 3: Get comfortable with saying no—and learn to do it kindly.
Saying no—and doing it with kindness—is the most important skill you can learn to keep time sucks like the ones you identified in the previous steps off your plate in the future.
When one of those distractors or fillers pops ups, decline with confidence. Start with, “Thank you,” instead of, “I’m sorry,” because you don’t need to apologize for turning down a request. Say, “Thank you for the opportunity,” or, “Thank you for thinking of me,” and then add that you’re at full capacity right now.
If the request is coming from a client or your boss, you might not be able to say no outright, but you can still be intentional about your workload and say, “Yes, I can do that, but it will take the place of X. Are you OK with that?” If this is coming from a close colleague, you may want to be specific about why you can’t do it. If you’re feeling generous, you can always offer a different timeline (“I will be free in July”) or a smaller assist, such as sharing research on a smaller piece of a project that needs to be done. This keeps you focused on your goals while still coming across as a team player.
It’s too easy for last-minute requests, distractions, and fillers to take control of your time and to-do list, leaving little room for high-impact work. But when you start to pay attention to these hidden time sucks, you can prioritize the things that matter most to you and your career.
England is an incredible country to explore. We’ve got some stunning history, beautiful villages and gorgeous national parks that dotted all across the lands. That being said, sometimes, the best places in the north of England are forgotten in lieu of amazing cities like London or the pretty spots in the south of England.
That being said, the north of England is pretty vast, with a whole heap of beautiful places to explore. This is exactly why I wanted to share some of my favorite and best places in the north of England to visit on your next trip.
Now, for clarity, there’s no real defining line of what constitutes, north and south England, it seems like everyone has their own cutoffs of where this border exists. To make things simpler, I’m going on the notion that anything lower than the Peak District National Park is south.
With that in mind, take a look below at the best places in the north of England to see. Have the best trip around England, we really have a beautiful country.
1.) The Lake District
One of the UNESCO protected national parks, the Lake District is one of the best places in the north of England to visit if you love the countryside. Consisting of around sixteen lakes, the Lake District is filled with stunning mountains, rolling hills and a heap of lakes that are nestled within the countryside.
Now, with the Lake District, you do have ‘popular’ lakes and some that are much quieter. For me, I prefer the quiet ones like Ullswater Lake that is totally pristine.
Here, you can head out paddle boarding, hiking and even take the historic Ullswater Steamer that crosses the lake itself.
That being said, don’t forget Windermere Lake, too. It’s probably the most famous lake in the Lake District with plenty of little places to explore around the shores.
Perched on the north-east coast of England, Whitby is a pretty historic fishing town to visit.
The town’s skyline is overlooked by the historical ruins of Whitby Abbey, a gothic structure which inspired Bram Stoker to write his classic horror masterpiece, Dracula. They’re incredible to see and easily one of the best places in the north of England to see if you love history.
Afterwards, pop over some classic fish and chips from the Magpie Cafe. For dinner, don’t forget the Star Inn (the harbour) for some yummy fresh seafood and local treats.
Finally, if you fancy a little jaunt from the town itself, head over to Robin Hood’s Bay, it’s a stunning little smugglers village that is so beautiful to see.
3.)The Holy Island of Lindisfarne
Nestled on a small tidal island off the coast of Northumberland, the holy island of Lindisfarne is beautiful to see.
First off, to get here, you have to pay attention to the tides, each day, the island gets cut off from the mainland when the sea washes over the road. Only ever attempt to travel this road when it is safe to do so as your car can get washed away.
Once you’ve got over to the island, make sure to spend some time exploring the historic abbey, head to the Lindisfarne Castle and have a tipple of Lindisfarne Mead that has been made on the island for centuries. The island itself is steeped in history and is considered the starting point for the Viking Age in northern Europe.
It really is one of the best places in the north of England to explore ancient beauty and history.
York is one of the oldest cities in England and easily one of the best places in the north of England to visit whilst you’re here. Honestly, York itself is absolutely teeming with history and dates way back over a thousand years.
Once you arrive, make sure to visit and explore York Minster, a cathedral that dates back to the 13th century. Here, you can even climb the stairs to the roof, with a lovely view across York itself.
Also, don’t forget Clifford’s Tower and the Castle museum nearby. Afterwards, rent your own little red boat and charter the river that runs through the city. Afterwards, take a little road down the medieval street called the Shambles and explore the totally quaint side of York.
Finally, for some amazing food, head over to Skosh or Roots that both have some of the tastiest grub in the city. You won’t be disappointed with either of them.
Oh yeah, and if you fancy a little jaunt from the city, head across to Castle Howard that is about 25-minutes in the car from the center. It’s huge and totally magnificent to see.
Nestled on the pristine coastline of Northumberland, Bamburgh is a tiny little place that has some of the best coastline and castle around. Only about 60-minutes from the Holy Island, it’s quite easy to partner a trip to Bamburgh with a wider trip across Northumberland.
As soon as you arrive, make sure to wander around the little town and make reservations for dinner at the Potted Lobster. It’s so yummy and they serve the best local seafood. Afterwards, head on over to Bamburgh Castle itself and explore the ancient history of this gorgeous place. Finally, take some time to enjoy the stunning beaches around the castle, too. They’re totally pristine and offer some gorgeous views over the castle itself.
Finally, if you fancy going on a little adventure, pop over to the uninhabited Farne Islands on a boat. You might even see whales or puffins during your trip.
Honestly, if you love castles, you’ll easily find Bamburgh one of the best places in the north of England to visit.
6.) Peak District
The Peak District National Park is the oldest national park in the UK and one of the best places in the north of England to explore.
Once here, make sure to explore Winnats Pass and discover the underground river on a tiny boat. Afterwards, head across to the plague village of Eyam and learn about this isolated community during the plague.
Afterwards, check into your own safari-style lodge that is just so cozy with the wood burner roaring.
Nestled on the coast of the North Sea, Scarborough is a gorgeous town to visit for a weekend trip.
Once here, head on through Peasholm Park and also explore the historic harbour that makes this spot so picturesque. Also, make sure to explore Scarborough Castle and visit St Mary’s Church where you can also see Anne Bronte’s final resting place.
Finally, for a good spot of lunch, head over to the Green Room Brasserie which has some of the freshest dishes around. If it’s a traditional fish and chips you’re after, pop into the Lifeboat Fishbar – they serve some of the best on all the east coast. Scarborough really is one of the best places in the north of England to visit.
Leeds is a pretty cool city to visit in the north of England and an easy spot to explore when heading further north.
Once here, make sure to explore the city Centre and head to explore the Corn Exchange with all their little eateries and shops. Afterwards, head across to the arcades which are totally beautiful and really gorgeous to see.
If that’s not your thing, head to Kirkstall Abbey (one of the largest in England) or even Harewood House (out of the Centre) that was built in the 1700s. Finally, for some tasty grub, head across to The Swine That Dines for a gorgeous dinner.
That being said, if you want something quick and easy, pop into the Station House Café for some of the best Italian food in the city. It really is one of the best places in the north of England to visit if you like a little city break.
The Market town of Malton is not too far from York and pretty easy to visit on your trip around this area.
Now, one of the things that makes Malton so special is its foodie heritage. It might be a relatively small town but it’s got some of the best independent food spots in Yorkshire. Once here, head over to Roost for some of the best coffee in town and find McMillans for a tasty bottle to take home.
Afterwards, head to Florian Poirot (near Roost) for an incredible french bakery. They make the most delicious sweet treats. Malton is certainly one of the best places in the north of England to visit if you’re a foodie.
10.) Hebden Bridge
A whimsical little market town, Hebden Bridge’s Rochdale Canal is nothing a totally gorgeous spot to visit.
While, like most of northern England, the weather can be a little unpredictable (take your umbrella), Hebden Bridge is easily one of the best places in the north of England to explore.
Once here, head out on the 15-miles of footpaths and walkways around the Hardcastle Crags. That being said, if you’re feeling a little lazier, head to the Heptonstall Museum which has far less walking.
After strolling the canal, pop over to Sowerby Bridge and gorge at Engine. The tapas-style plates are just so yummy.
Being one of the larger cities in England, there’s a whole heap of amazing things to see and do whilst in Manchester. Plus, it’s one of the best places in the north of England to explore if you want a vibrant city.
You see, Manchester has a long history, which makes for some totally gorgeous places to explore. Once here, make sure to explore the Science and Industry Museum, see Old Trafford (if you’re a footie fan), or check out the Manchester Art Gallery. The latter is totally stunning and a great thing to do if the weather takes a turn for the worst.
Oh yeah, and if you fancy some nightlife, Canal Street is famous for being one of the oldest LGBT+ neighbourhoods in Europe, while the Northern Quarter has loads of trendy bars to explore. Also, for a tasty and juicy steak, pop into Fazenda Rodizio Bar which is totally gorge-worthy. You’ll leave stuffed.
Also, for a great place to stay, check into Hotel Gotham that is totally unique.
An absolute must-visit for any literary lover, Haworth is home to the longtime home of the Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Ann.
While the girls worked under pen names, they released some tremendous successes which continue to resonate with readers today, including the classics Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. You can visit the gravesite of the majority of the Bronte family at the Haworth Parish Church as well.
Although Haworth is pretty small, it’s a great place to spend a pit stop on your way further north (or south) for an hour or two.
Of course, most people know Liverpool as the hometown of the Beatles, right? Liverpool is certainly one of the best places in the north of England to visit if you love the Beatles! That being said, there’s so much more to this city to experience.
After arriving, make sure to explore the waterfront (marked by a trio of buildings popularly known as the Three Graces). If that doesn’t float your boat, the Liverpool Cathedral is worth visiting for its stunning Gothic architecture, too. Finally, head across to the Royal Albert Dock, visit the Beatles Story and visit the Walker Art Gallery, too.
Oh yeah, there’s also a shed load of yummy spots to grab a bite to eat, too! From high-end spots to a pint and some fish and chips at the local pub, Liverpool has a spot for everyone.
Now, for a tasty dinner, head across to the London Carriage Works. Once you arrive, make sure to try their incredible cocktails and seasonal menu. Their salted cod with clams is so good.
Originally constructed as a Roman fortress (almost two-thousand years ago), Chester still maintains some of its Roman past in what remains of the city’s walls. Now, with a city that’s so steeped in history, it’s easily become of the best places in the north of England to see. Plus, it’s really easy to get to from the likes of Manchester or Liverpool.
Once here, make sure to explore Chester’s gothic cathedral and stroll along the Groves that are totally lovely. Oh yeah, the Old Town is worth a visit to gaze upon the black and white Tudor-style homes that line the streets too.
Afterwards, head across to visit the Grovesnor Museum or walk the city walls themselves. It’s the perfect thing to do before gorging at The Yard for their tasty seabass.
Based just west of Newcastle, Durham is pretty easy to get to from most places in the UK, especially by train. Now, although Durham is a relatively small city (as cities go), it’s still got a shed load of history and gorgeous things to do.
After stepping off the train, head across to explore Durham Cathedral in all its glory. It’s so imposing and can’t be missed when visiting the city. Afterwards, stop over to Durham Castle and learn more about the ancient history of this place. Oh, and don’t forget to visit the quaint Palace Green and see Finchale Priory (that sits outside the centre).
You all enjoy the melody of Nostalgia and Natalie song…Singing duet with Hasmik from Boston was a wonderful surprise. Hope you all will enjoy the remix and duet. I miss the good old days, here are no words to express this song!!
The daily maintenance of a relationship is so much easier when you employ even a few of these twelve phrases.
There are things that your partner needs to hear you say on a consistent basis in order to feel deeply loved.
Some of which they know about, and some of them, they don’t.
Communication is key in intimate relationships and it helps to be intentional about telling your partner what they need to hear from you.
Behold! A concise reminder of things that your partner would love to hear, and hear often.
Focus on bringing these tips into your relationship and see your partner open up like never before.
1. That You Want To Make Their Life Easier
I am a firm believer in the concept that a thriving relationship occurs when two independent, emotionally stable people decide that they want to help each other live the most fulfilling lives possible.
One way to communicate that is by saying any variation of “I want to help you in any way that I can.”
“Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you feel like I could make your life easier in any way.”
“I want to always be a positive influence in your life. Is there anything I could do today that would take some pressure off of you?”
Even something as simple as picking up their dry cleaning could have a measurable impact on their stress level on a certain day… so keep your ears out for things that you can do to help them.
I’m not suggesting that you need to take on their responsibilities or moods as your own, but being willing to help them out (and communicating that mindset) is always appreciated.
2. That You Want To Keep Dating Them
Just because you’re in a relationship with them doesn’t mean you get to stop dating them.
Whether it’s pre-planned or (better yet) a surprise, taking your partner out on dates will keep your connection growing over time.
Not sure what to do on your big night out?
Try an activity date like bowling, rock climbing, or taking a cooking class. Want something a bit more romantic and intimate? Turn off your phones, remove any technology from your evening (except for the music), light some candles, and have some dedicated connection time in your bedroom.
Whether you engage in a dedicated sex date or just want to discuss your lives, ambitions, and relationship, actively dating your partner will make them feel loved and appreciated.
3. That You Like Having Them Around
Many people assume that just because they are in a relationship with someone, their partner knows that they must enjoy their company.
While this is often the case, a simple “I love having you around. Just seeing your beautiful face makes my heart warm” can go a LONG way with certain people.
Try it out. Your partner might respond better than you thought possible.
4. That You Want To Know About Their Day
One cornerstone of communication is the daily catch up.
While these don’t necessarily need to happen on a daily basis, showing that you genuinely care about what is going on in your partner’s life is a nice gesture.
The key to making this work? Asking “How was your day?” and then listening all the way through.
Listen attentively, give positive reinforcement (“That’s so great that you finished that project on time. I’m not surprised at all because you’re so hard working, but still… well done!”), and help them solve their problems if they ask you to.
5. What They Bring To Your Life
Presumably you are in a relationship with your partner because you like them and they bring value to your life in some way. So tell them about it!
A basic script could play out like “Because you are so (character trait), I constantly feel (what you feel) in our relationship. And I thank you for that.”
“Because you’re so generous with your loving energy, I constantly feel taken care of and loved in our relationship.”
“Because you’re so driven and hard working, I constantly feel pushed forward and motivated in my own life.”
If what they bring to your life isn’t immediately apparent, take the time to write down a few ideas, and then commit to telling them about what you came up with in the next few days.
6. That You Support Them And Their Decisions
Your partner wants to feel like you’re on their side (at least the majority of the time).
Sprinkling hints of “You were right/allowed to do that/totally in the right in that situation” throughout your conversations shows them that you’re on their team.
She asks if you can do her a favour? You answer “I can do you two favours.”
She says “I felt like I had been good all week so I had a cupcake with lunch”? You reply with “Good for you. You could have had ten if you wanted.”
Be on their side. Support them in their decisions.
7. That You Find Them Attractive
You find your partner attractive on multiple levels.
You can compliment their physical appearance (You look mesmerizing/beautiful/fantastic/stunning/ridiculously cute. I love your hair/outfit/legs/hips/nose so much.)
Or you can compliment their character and personality (I love how caring/nurturing/open minded/communicative you are.)
8. That You Find Their Choices Attractive
Your partner’s choices tie back to who they are at a deeper level. By noticing those choices and verbalizing your appreciation, they will feel seen and loved.
Examples of physical appearance compliments: “Your hair/outfit/dress/lips look/looks really sexy right now. Seriously, I love it.”
Examples of lifestyle/character compliments: “I love that you were able to get yourself up out of bed and going for a run/workout/exercise so early in the morning. I find that incredibly sexy that you take care of yourself like that.”
9. That They Are A Priority
It’s easy to let your partner become less of a priority on your list when you slip from a “wanting” mindset to a “having” mindset.
Tell them “I will always put you first, and if I ever forget please give me a nudge to wake me up to reality. You are the most important person in my life and I want to make sure you always feel like you are.”
10. That You Still Appreciate Them
Don’t take your partner for granted.
Tell them “I’m so glad you’re my girlfriend/wife/partner. Sometimes I see you from a distance and I’m like ‘Wow, that is one ridiculously beautiful and classy looking woman.’ And then I realize that I’m already dating you and I feel like the luckiest person in the world.”
11. “I’m Sorry”
It’s inevitable that you are going to mess up. Make sure you are clearing the air with them when you do.
12. “I Love You”
I left the most obvious (and most important) for last. This little phrase can’t be said enough. Say it upon waking, before they leave for their day, via text while you’re apart, after you kiss, and before you go to sleep.
Say it like you mean it. Don’t just go through the motions. Tell them you love them… don’t just verbalize it.
Say It Loud, Say It Proud
You know what to do, now it’s time to do it.
Commit to saying at least one of these things to your partner in the next 48 hours. The sooner you take action, the better.
I don’t know about you, but I often find advice to release stress and pressure to be great on paper but incredibly difficult to apply.
Just say no more often! Sounds good, but my twenty-month-old son still needs constant care and I need to earn money, so there’s a lot I can’t just not do.
Get out in nature! I do try, but it’s been cold and grey, and often I don’t get time to myself until night—when it’s even more frigid.
Exercise more! I have the best of intentions, but I’m pregnant, frequently exhausted, and there’s that whole time thing again. I just can’t seem to create more of it, try as I may.
I suppose this is true of most good advice: It’s far easier to make a list of great ideas than it is to actually apply them. And it’s hard not to resist all those well-intentioned suggestions as overly simplified and maybe even unrealistic.
That, I’ve realized, is my biggest problem—one that you can perhaps relate to as well: While my circumstances can be challenging and limiting, most of the stress and pressure I feel originates with some form of internal resistance. Resistance to what was, what is, what might be, what I’m doing, what I could be doing, who I am… the list goes on.
And it might look like this:
Rehashing the past (and pressuring myself to somehow fix my mistakes)
Dwelling on worst-case scenarios (and pressuring myself to find ways to avoid them)
Fighting my current reality (and pressuring myself to change it)
Worrying about what I have to do (and pressuring myself to do it perfectly)
Obsessing about what I should be doing (and pressuring myself to figure it out)
Fixating on what I can’t do right now (and pressuring myself to get around my limitations)
Wishing I had more time for myself (and pressuring myself to somehow create it)
Judging myself in comparison to others (and pressuring myself to be better than I am)
Agonizing about what people think of me (and pressuring myself to meet their expectations)
If you’ve done any of these things yourself, I’m sure you know they’re exhausting.
That’s not say we are the sole cause of our stress. Sometimes life demands that we do more and deal with external challenges beyond our control—job loss, health issues, financial troubles, divorce…
And it’s true that there are lots of little things we can do to relieve some of the tension. But the first thing we need to do is relieve the pressure where it’s generally the most intense: within our own minds.
How to Relieve the Mental Pressure
There are two things I’ve found to be highly effective in quieting my inner voice of resistance.
1. Allow yourself to feel the feelings under your thoughts so that you can calm and release them.
All too often we get caught in a thought loop as a way to avoid feeling our feelings, because stressful as it may be, thinking about our circumstances allows us to avoid facing our deepest wounds. But we have to face them to heal them. As they say, the only way out is through.
I’ve found that underneath my varying forms of internal resistance, there’s usually:
About things I think I’ve done wrong, about who I am (when I mistakenly assume my poor choices define me), about expectations I failed to meet or might fail to meet (my own and other people’s). And this triggers my core childhood wounds that led me to believe I’m fundamentally bad.
When I feel it:
When I’m rehashing the past, judging myself in comparison to others, and agonizing about what people think of me.
Of the unknown, failing, succeeding then somehow ruining it, losing control, not doing enough with my life/making the most of my time, not living up to my potential, hurting or disappointing other people. Once again, this triggers my childhood wounds that led me to believe I’m not good enough, and never will be.
When I feel it:
When I’m dwelling on worst-case scenarios, worrying about what I have to do, and obsessing about what I should be doing.
Toward myself for what I think I did wrong, toward other people for how I think they did me wrong, toward for myself for maybe causing them to do me wrong (because I often find a way to blame myself), toward life for being unfair. This triggers my core belief that life should be fair, formed, you guessed it, in childhood, when life felt very unfair.
When I feel it:
When I’m rehashing the past and fighting my current reality.
Because I’m not connecting with myself, others, my passions, the world at large, or anything that would fulfill me.
When I feel it:
When I’m fixating on what I can’t do right now and wishing I had more time for myself.
When I can get below the thoughts and identify one of these feelings, I can sit with it. I can cry it out—the ultimate release!
I can empathize with myself and tell myself what I need to hear—that I’m a good person who’s always done her best, that I will do my best in the future and can handle what’s coming, that everyone else is doing their best, and we all deserve understanding and forgiveness.
And I can also do what I really need to do to feel better:
Maybe take a warm bath if I’m feeling ashamed to remind myself that I deserve comfort even when I think I’ve messed up.
Maybe do something fun and childlike if I’m feeling afraid of the future to help me find joy in the present moment.
Maybe write a forgiveness letter if I’m feeling angry to help me empathize, accept, and let go.
Maybe call someone I love, journal, or do something creative if I’m feeling empty, to meet my need for connection.
The point is, after we feel our feelings, we can do something to address the specific root cause of our stress in a moment instead of arbitrarily choosing an activity from a one-size-fits-all list of stress-relievers.
So ask yourself: What am I thinking that’s stressing me out? What’s the feeling underneath it? What does that feeling have to teach me? What does it need to hear? And what can I do to help ease that pain?
2. Get out of your head (and perhaps into your body or a state of flow).
It’s ironic but true that two pieces of seemingly contradictory advice can be equally helpful and powerful, and such is the case when it comes to relieving stress. Or at least it has been for me.
On the one hand, it can benefit us to look closely at what’s going in our minds so we can understand it, challenge it if necessary, and calm the feelings underneath our thoughts.
On the other hand, sometimes we simply need to disengage from our mind’s stories—about our unfulfilling work, our mounting bills, our insensitive relatives, and so on. To recognize we’re getting caught up in a mental maze from which we may never escape unless we consciously choose to get out—and then make that choice.
Our brain’s default mode network (DMN), which is designed to protect us, tends toward negativity, often focused on the past, the future, and the intentions behind others’ behavior. Research has shown a link between a disproportionately active DMN and depression and anxiety—and has also shown that meditation can help influence the default network.
That’s why it’s so important that we learn to get out of our heads, either through traditional meditation or by getting into our bodies or a state of flow (when you’re so consumed in a task that you forget about everything else and lose track of time).
It’s not just about temporarily quieting our thoughts. Mindfulness can actually change patterns of brain activity over time, enabling us to more frequently get out of the default mode network—where we inevitably feel stressed!
How do we get out of our heads and into our bodies or a state of flow?
Here are a few ways to practice mindfulness through movement:
As you sync your breathing with your movements and focus your attention on the subtle muscle shifts required to get into and hold each pose, you’ll find your mind naturally quieting. There are lots of different styles of yoga. My favorites are vinyasa and Bikram, since I find the heat particularly soothing.
You can find all kinds of yoga videos on YouTube, and odds are, when life gets closer to normal again, you can find a free or donation-based class near you. I personally find it easier to practice in a class than on my own, since the presence of other people holds me accountable, and there are fewer cookies and TVs nearby to distract me!
I have less experience with Tai Chi, but I did practice for a while in college, as part of an acting class. Acting requires you to get out of your judging mind, and Tai Chi is a perfect practice to facilitate that, since it’s all about integrating mind and body through slow, low-impact, controlled movements and breathing.
Tai chi is less physically taxing than most yoga practices (aside from restorative yoga, which is incredibly relaxing), which makes it perfect for anyone who’s more physically limited. It’s particularly popular among the senior crowd, since it’s easy on the joints, but it’s a powerful and effective mindfulness practice for anyone, of any age!
Mindful hiking or walking
Any form of movement can be meditative if you focus your attention on the sensations in your body, and hiking and walking outside bring the added benefit of immersing you in nature—a natural stress-reliever!
Studies have shown that just twenty minutes in nature can significantly lower your stress hormones. And it can also stimulate all the body’s senses, as we tune in to the sound of running water trickling nearby, the scent of pine (known to lower depression and anxiety), the colors in a picturesque sunrise, the feeling of leaves crunching beneath our feet, and the taste of a freshly picked piece of fruit.
Here are a few ways to get into a mindful state of flow (suggested by flow researcher Steven Kolter):
Through social triggers
We often think of flow as something we achieve individually, but group activities bring the added benefit of facilitating deep connection as we move in sync or work toward team goals. This might mean getting into a collective state of flow as part of a sports team, dance troupe, or through synchronized swimming.
I remember one particular piece of choreography from a community theater show I did as a kid. There were at least twenty of us, seated, doing clapping motions with each other’s hands, tapping our own and each other’s legs. We all needed to move perfectly in sync to get it just right, which required intense focus, and I have to say it was deeply gratifying to move as part of a whole—to lose myself in the group and become immersed in something bigger than myself.
Through creative triggers
Any creative activity can get us into a state of flow if we enjoy it and lose ourselves in the task. Painting, playing an instrument, dancing, jewelry making, even doodling—pick whatever calls to you so deeply you can’t help but concentrate on the present, losing your sense of self-consciousness because the act itself is so fun and rewarding.
Through environmental triggers
Rock climbing is a perfect example, since you need to be fully absorbed in the moment to safely navigate the rock formation. As you push yourself to your physical limit, balancing and adapting to the changing terrain, you’ll find yourself going deeper and deeper into a state of flow.
Though I’ve never done outdoor rock climbing—which I imagine is all the more thrilling, since it’s riskier and you’re totally immersed in nature—I participated in a climbing course as an experiential therapy treatment for bulimia in my early twenties. I remember all my worries falling away as I focused on not falling off the beam, and I recall appreciating my body for what it could do instead of judging myself for everything I thought I was doing wrong.
The beauty of most of these practices is that we can adapt them to our needs and available time. You can take an hour class or just practice for ten minutes. You can work on a painting for two hours or sketch for a brief window before bed.
Easier said than done? Of course! It’s far easier to watch Netflix in our one free hour of time or mindlessly scroll in that brief window before bed. (Guilty as charged.) When I do that, all my heavy unfelt feelings fester, settling deep into my brain and my bones and suffocating me like an invisible straitjacket.
But I know when I do something that’s good for me, I feel it—and I want more of it. And my resistance to doing it naturally fades away, along with my stress.
So really, we just need to show up once—really show up. Be so present that we allow ourselves to fully live that moment so we can love that moment, and that love will bring us back. Back to the practice, back to our bodies, back to ourselves. Our deepest selves, underneath the stress and pressure. The true self who knows we don’t need to be more, we don’t have to do more, we just have to let ourselves enjoy more. Because within that enjoyment there’s peace and healing. And no matter what our negatively biased brains tell us, we absolutely deserve it.
While the holidays can create some of the happiest moments in your life, they can also cause a great deal of stress. On top of your typical schedule of work and managing your home and kids, there is shopping to do, menus to plan, and food to prepare. Moreover, there is the possibility of having to deal with family disagreements, schedule conflicts, and financial issues. While this all may seem overwhelming, there is good news. You can still reduce holiday stress, even with all the extra activities and preparations.
Following are proven strategies to help you decrease stress and tension. Some of these methods may be so effective that you’ll choose to use them all year, and not just during the holidays!
1. Acknowledge That Everything Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect. The holiday commercials and movies on television really do miss the mark when it comes to realistic portrayals of family gatherings.
• Accept that you can enjoy some wonderful holiday get-togethers regardless of whether the kids accidentally spill a bit of the Christmas punch or you’re having trouble locating your festive napkin rings.
• Believe me, most people will hardly notice if the pies baked a little too long or you forgot the cranberry sauce.
2. Purchase Your Gifts Early. When you get holiday shopping out of the way early on, you can prevent added last-minute pressure. You won’t be dealing with other shoppers during peak shopping times, and you won’t have to worry about making split-second decisions on gifts.
• Another way to avoid this stress altogether is to do all of your holiday shopping online so you can beat the crowds!
3. Scale Down Your Holiday Plans. Because adults can sometimes have an overly idealistic view of the holidays that springs from their childhood experiences, this strategy can be a challenge. Scaling down your plans involves being more flexible in your thinking about the holidays.
• Let go of feeling the need to plan and carry out elaborate, lavish celebrations. Maybe you’d rather have smaller, more intimate gatherings with friends spread out over a month or two, rather than a big event that makes it difficult to connect with others.
• Essentially, know that you don’t have to reproduce the special holiday memory you have in your mind to have an amazing time. You also don’t have to find the perfect gift, spend the most money, or have a room piled with presents to show your love to others.
• Try to remember—“It’s the thought that counts.” Most people will never remember the cool gift you got for them that one year. But they will have fond memories of the quality time you spent together as a family.
4. Take Shortcuts to Save Time. Figure out simpler ways to do things that will provide more time for other holiday tasks and activities.
• One good example: Rather than baking pies, order them from a nearby restaurant that’s known for its delicious baked goods.
• When shopping, it’s okay to purchase gift cards as presents. Many people actually prefer to receive a gift card so they can then choose what they want. Gift cards are easy to find at most stores, satisfy nearly everyone, and will cost you less in wrapping paper.
5. Take Some Time to Yourself. While we often take the time to think of others during the holiday season, we can also forget our own needs. Remember to schedule some time for yourself and concentrate on winding down. To care for others, you first have to take care of your own health and well being.
• One way to take some time for yourself for relaxation is by scheduling a massage.
6. Stay Calm. While it may not be an issue for every family, sometimes the togetherness causes conflicts and clashing. Before you join a family event, tell yourself that you’ll take the high road if need be. You don’t want a disagreement or any tension to ruin the opportunity to have fun during the holidays.
• If necessary, take a time out and walk around the block or go to another room to take some deep breaths to center yourself. When you’re ready, you can rejoin the festivities.
8. Watch your Nutrition. It’s not fair to yourself nor even practical to completely avoid indulging around the holidays, but at the same time, you can remain in control. Watch what you’re putting into your body, as large amounts of certain foods can affect how you feel. The two big ones to be mindful of are caffeine and sweets.
9. Buy Yourself a Present. While you’ve been spending money on everyone else, there’s no reason why you can’t buy yourself a little something. This way, you can ensure that you’ll get something you want. • Remember the massage suggestion earlier in this article? Maybe it’s something else you’d prefer. Either way, you deserve it!
10. Get Enough Rest. The holiday season is generally an exciting time. You may lose sleep due to stress or even because of the excitement. Either way, be kind to yourself by getting to bed at a reasonable hour. Getting less than eight hours of sleep per night may set you up for stress without realizing it.
• If you need a reminder, use the settings on your phone to alert you when it’s time to start settling down and getting ready for bed.
11. Learn to Delegate. If you realize that you’re in charge of too many things, don’t pile on the stress—instead, delegate the tasks. Be wise enough to recognize when you need some help and ask for it. You can even involve your children with certain holiday preparations which they may very much enjoy! This year, decide to reduce your holiday stress. By shedding the urge to be perfect, beginning holiday shopping earlier, scaling down expectations, and using shortcuts to save time, you’ll bring your tension level way down.
Think about what you truly want the holidays to mean to you and your family. Then, you can let go of expectations based on the past and enjoy your time together. Ultimately that’s what the holidays are for—creating meaningful moments and connections with those who matter most.