HAPPIER HABITS WHICH HAVE CHANGED MY LIFE
Today I am sharing some of my everyday habits for a happier life, these changes have made a huge impact on my life, and I hope that they may be able to help you to make some savvy decisions for yourself too.
Keeping a thankful journal
I’ve shared this daily habit with you guys before, it is one of the best routines I’ve adopted – ever! Every morning I take a moment to write down three things I am grateful for in my dedicated journal.
By doing something for me at the beginning of the day and focusing on gratitude, I immediately feel lucky for my lot, which puts me on a better foot in the morning.
Once you’ve acknowledged GOOD things in your life, anything which crosses your path later in the day is incidental, it doesn’t change what you were grateful for that morning.
I feel calmer, happier and more at peace when I have completed my journal every morning. In a recent Lively Show podcast I was listening to, Jess mentioned that she felt that in reaching for your journal in the morning, rather than your phone, you set yourself on a path of gratitude, rather than a path of comparison. You may not think you’d notice the difference, I can tell you that in my experience, it’s been a HUGE shift.
And, it makes me more conscious of my gratitude all day.
Right before I left London, I was suffering with anxiety. I couldn’t control the whir of thoughts in my head, and often I’d feel in physical pain from stress.
It was during this time, that I discovered mindfulness, which I used as a counterbalance to my anxiety.
What started as a practice to help tackle a particularly difficult time in my life, turned in to a larger journey for me, although it wasn’t until recently that meditation became a daily practice.
After recommendations from friends, I started using the Rituals app for meditation. This app is completely free, and it has a section for guided meditations which last 5, 10, 15 and 20 minutes – so you can easily slot them in!
For me, I use the five minute meditation a fews days a week in the morning and whenever I need a quick ‘reset’. I used to find that if I was kind of in a funk in the morning, that mood would carry through all day and it wouldn’t be until the next day that I felt better. Now, using the five minute meditation, I take a moment, and so far it’s completely changed my mood EVERY time.
The most significant change for me in this instance, is that the process of meditation allows you to observe your thoughts, and let them fall by the wayside. So if I am stressed about ‘X’ I allow myself to notice that stress, and let it glide off.
Catching thoughts – recognising them – letting them go
This point follows on from my practice of meditation, I’ve found that in becoming more mindful overall, I recognise my moods and thought patterns so much faster and can tackle them or enjoy them – whichever suits at the time.
I recently took a course which explored our relationship with work and our self worth. One of the most fascinating points which was brought up during this course, was how we attach out happiness cycles to the highs and lows of our careers, and further to this, it’s as potentially dangerous to allow the highs to stimulate our joy, as it is to allow the lows to make us feel bad.
I can totally relate to riding that cycle – feeling great when I’ve booked a job or received a lovely email, and feeling terrible when something hasn’t gone right.
I have genuinely found that if I start my day using my Thankful Journal, and when I can meditate, that I am so much more conscious of my thoughts – I can catch them, recognise them and let them go.
The other day I had got off on completely the wrong foot, everything felt like it was going wrong. Where once this could have triggered me to feel really upset, or set off my anxiety, I was able to take a pause, catch those thoughts and acknowledge that they didn’t have to determine the rest of my day. I was still fundamentally OK, it’s alright to have rubbish things happen and to chose to not allow them to determine your whole day ahead.
I’d love to know how you guys get on with this!
NB: This comes from a girl who didn’t exercise for two years
I feel like every health and wellbeing advice article will tell you to exercise, I know we all know that it’s good for us – I want to reassure any of you who don’t exercise right now (but would like to) that I have been there.
For two years I had a very sporadic on/off exercise regime. I was beginning to suffer with some lower back pain, I had migraines often and I generally felt out of shape. I noticed that my body shape had changed, and although I ate well, I was carrying more weight around my bottom half than I had in previous years.
I realised that I had a mental block about exercise. Over the last five years I have dislocated both of my knees, and I had an ongoing problem with them, this fact felt like it was my forever stumbling block until . . .
I made a conscious decision to change.
My relationship with fitness this year is completely different. I realised that I needed to tackle my feelings of unrest SOON and I decided at the beginning of this year that I wanted to feel stronger.
I found a gym I actually wanted to go to, I signed up for a few sessions with a personal trainer, and over a few weeks which have turned in to months, I feel like I am finally on a path where exercise is party of my daily routine, and it is something I look forward to and miss if I don’t partake in it.
The combination of a great gym + a trainer worked for me. And I get that both of those things cost not insubstantial money.
When I was grappling with the cost, I called my friend Ella, who I knew to be an exercise convert (like I was hoping to be!) – I asked her how she found the cost, and if it was worth signing up to a fancy gym. Ella told me that she would now forgo so many other things, to afford the gym. And guys, I feel the same now! I would rather allocate my money to my gym membership, and seeing a trainer when I need to, than to another top, or expensive lunches.
Honestly I have found it to be a cost I am very comfortable parting with, the benefits of this new habit are worth the price ten fold.
For any of you on a journey to finding greater balance in your life, I want to reassure you that it can be the smallest changes which make the most impactful differences. I never would have thought that the simple habit of keeping a thankful journal would completely shift my mindset, or that five minutes of meditation could settle my anxiety – they do!
These happier habits have made a huge impact on my life, and I’d love to know of any you keep to? Or your thoughts on the topic?
Love, Monica x
Thank you so much to everyone that filled out my user experience questionnaire a couple of weeks ago. Turning the reigns over to you guys was scary at the time – I felt super vulnerable opening up the floor – yet, I am SO pleased now that I did. The responses we received are so thoughtful, smart, constructive and kind – what you told me, is being put in to immediate effect on The Elgin Avenue.
I’ll be sharing some of the feedback we received next week, so you guys will have the opportunity again to let me know your thought on our direction – I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.
Over the next few weeks and months, everything that you shared, is being translated in to actionable steps for us here on The Elgin Avenue, so again a big THANK YOU for helping me, to shape our site and message for you.