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Ever feel like you just need a break from everything in your life, even the stuff you like? I was having a little episode of that earlier this week. When I finally stopped, took a deep breath, and gave it some thought, I realized that part of the reason I was feeling so overwhelmed was that I had scheduled my week so full that I had stopped doing 2 of the 3 key habits I try to do every day to keep myself centered and sane.
No wonder I was feeling like I needed go hide in the mountains and change my name and hair color! These three things make a huge difference in my life and it’s important for me to do them every day. I can just about guarantee you that if you do these three things, (that take less than 15 minutes a day total), every day, you’ll begin to have a calmer, more peaceful and even happier life.
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In the morning sit on the side of your bed, take 3 deep breaths (when you breathe out, relax the exhale, don’t blow it out hard, just let it go naturally). Then think of your intention for the day. Your intention might be to feel more gratitude for what you have or to react to your children or spouse with more patience, or to swear less, or to give a compliment to 3 people, or to be less critical of yourself, or to only say kind things about other people, or whatever way you’d like to interact with the world that you maybe haven’t been doing such a good job of lately.
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Now write your intention down on a little piece of paper and then put it in your purse or pocket so you have it with you to look at whenever you think of it throughout the day. Step 1 takes 5 minutes or less and gives you a focus and a higher purpose for your day than just going through the motions and clicking things off your to-do list.
You may not necessarily have control over the exact tasks you need to do at work or over the fact that if you want to be able to pay the bills you need to go to work. But you do have control over your intentions and your actions as far as how you move through the world and interact with others.
Being aware of our intentions and setting intentions that align with our values and beliefs is a powerful thing. It can guide our actions and really move us in the direction we want to go in life. If we don’t think about our intentions we end up on autopilot and are likely to fall into old habits and patterns we may be trying to break. Living with intention lifts us up above the nitty-gritty daily details and gives us a broader view of our life and how we want to live it. You can download a free printable of a Morning Intention Card here on our freebies page.
Sometime in the middle of your day or after work, find a quiet spot (your car works great for this if you are away from home) and set the timer on your phone for 5 minutes (use a gentle alarm tone). Close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths (relaxing the exhale). Now think of one thing you are grateful for. Be sure it’s something you actually feel grateful for and not something people are telling you you should be grateful for. Smile and then let the thought of what you are grateful for go. Now just breathe and relax.
Let your mind clear of everything going on in your day. Focus on your breath. If your mind wanders then just bring it back to your breath, gently, no pressure, no judgment. When the 5 minutes are up, and your gentle alarm goes off, wiggle your fingers and toes, flex your wrists and ankles and open your eyes. Look at the slip of paper with your day’s intention to remind you of your higher focus today.
Taking time to quiet our minds like this has so many benefits. Meditation can help relieve depression and anxiety. It can boost our memory and reduce stress. It can decrease our blood pressure and even strengthen our immune system. Scientific studies have shown all these benefits. Meditation actually makes changes in our brain that are measurable – and GOOD! Wow, what a great thing, right? Something anyone can do, for free, with no special equipment.
Just before you go to sleep. Write down 5 things you are grateful for in a notebook or journal. This isn’t a lot of writing or explanation or anything. Just jot down 5 things. Try not to make it the same 5 things every day. Some days it might just be that you are grateful for the covers on your bed, or for the cashier that smiled at you, or that your daughter called. Just write down whatever 5 things you are grateful for that come to mind.
There have been a lot of studies about the importance of gratitude and how it can positively affect our well-being. Developing a habit of gratitude by making a list like this at bedtime can help you fall asleep faster and sleep better. That “count your blessings instead of sheep” thing really does work. Practicing gratitude can also help your relationships. When you feel grateful for your partner or someone in your life it helps make that relationship stronger.
In addition, people who practice gratitude are more likely to take care of themselves by exercising, eating better, meditating, etc. So writing this gratitude list each night might help you stay on that exercise or eating plan.
Practicing gratitude can help you make better decisions and be more patient.
Practicing gratitude can also ease depression.
Notice how all these benefits start with the words “practicing gratitude.” If you don’t feel grateful all the time, that’s O.K. because writing down 5 things each night that you are grateful for will get you in the practice. And it will actually help you feel more grateful for more things more of the time. Awesome deal, right?
These 3 habits that take 15 minutes or less total time. They can be done by anyone almost anywhere and they have great benefits. If you practice them for a while I bet you will start feeling more peaceful and more grateful. They’ve really made a huge difference in my life.
To help you build on these habits check out the 3 Free Cheat Sheets that can help you make every day a good day!
Want to master a specific breathing technique that could make a huge difference in your life? Check out The One Tool You Need for Inner Simplicity.
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