This first post is all about happiness hacks that make my daily routine just so much better. I traveled through Thailand this summer and spent two weeks in an amazing – and definitely life-changing – yoga retreat and healing center. Since I’m back at work, I keep telling all of my friends about my experience and the insights I gained during this eye-opening stay. Leaving Thailand and flying back home to an intense and time-consuming job was not something I was looking forward to. Thailand’s warm weather, welcoming people, delicious food and the mere fact of not having to get up for work every morning, did have its own magic to it. I can certainly understand why so many people choose Thailand as their adopted home and leave grey and rainy skies behind. But before I lose myself in writing about beautiful Thailand, I better come back to my story. It was not easy returning to my normal life at home. What helped were the combination of different happiness habits that I picked up during the past years and new ones that I learned during the holidays. Here are my favorites:
Get a good night’s sleep
To function at our best, we need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. I definitely need around 8 to 9 hours of sleep, otherwise I’m in a state of trance all day, get easily annoyed and just look terrible. Sleeping longer hours every day, just not on the weekend, give me more energy and motivation to get things done. The hard part is going to bed on time, but the reward is being more balanced and efficient during the hours awake!
Get off your duff!
I’m a horribly lazy person and have to force myself to work out. But after exercising, I always feel so much better with myself. I get this feeling of achievement, of having overcome my weaker self and – pure joy and happiness. Besides, my gym is crazily expensive, and I calculated that I have to go at least three times a week so that it makes sense economically. Do you feel better after exercising?
Get up early (or at least earlier)
While not being a morning person at all, I’m trying to get up early since the summer break and it makes such a big difference. Like that, I do not have the feeling of getting up solely for work, but for myself. It changes my whole perspective for the day and suddenly I have time to exercise (in theory), have breakfast, read, or for morning sex 😉 Getting out of bed is hard, but so far, it was worth it every time! Plus, I’m at work on time.
Meditating (especially in the mornings) helps in setting an intention for the day, taking time for yourself, being grateful and practicing gratitude for the simple things. Instead of getting up and already going through my to-do-list of the day, I sit down for a couple of minutes and relax before the hectic day commences. There are different apps that can guide you through it, like Headspace or Inside Timer.
Yoga is not just the physical exercise when we practice Asanas, but also includes mediation and breathing (pranayama). There are different techniques to strengthen and balance the central nervous system, to energize the mind, to tone the digestive organs and to cleanse the lungs. I like to practice Kapalabathi in the mornings, as it releases the paranasal sinuses and helps to clear the mind. It’s a fresh start into the day!
I noticed that while I do remember the ups and downs of my relationship in particular and of the past year in general, I mostly focus on the things that did not go so well and tend to dwell on them. That’s why I found my 5-year journal so helpful in finding a balance. You only write down 4 lines a day on a page and when you finish one year, you move on to the next one. Like this, you can always read about the great things you did on the same day a year ago. My intention is to write about something I’m grateful for every day.
If you haven’t heard about Gretchen Rubin yet, go and check her out. I just love her books and the Happier podcast, which always has great happiness hacks to try out. Last week she talked about setting intentions for each day of the week, like having a Taco Tuesday or Wireless Wednesday. I came up with Body Friday (let me know if you can think of a better alliteration)to set aside time to take a bath, put a face mask on, do my nails and watch my favorite show (Friends – still unbeatable).
Family & Friends
As much as I love Rachel and Ross, having actual friends in real life is pretty important. Catching up with them during coffee or dinner is an essential part of being happy. Often, our busy schedules leave little room to see them as much as we’d like to, or the distance is too big for a spontaneous visit. I like to take the time to send my loved ones little updates, either texts, pictures or voice messages, because it makes me so happy to receive some in return. It makes me feel closer to them and often gives me a boost of happiness.
Read inspiring books
It’s funny how much time I find to read if I have a great book at hand. Not too long ago, I read “Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides and just couldn’t put it away. Whenever I went out for dinner or drinks, I could only think about Calliope and her story. Luckily, my boyfriend started reading it too and we could talk about it all of the time. Books are a door into a whole nother world. What are you reading right now?
My new daily routine consists of a combination of all these 10 points. I try to get up early to meditate and breathe, read and write, be at work on time, stay focused and calm during stressful tasks. After work I reward myself with Yoga or Pilates. Sometimes I go out in the evening, I have too much wine and getting up early doesn’t seem manageable. Then I prefer to get more hours of sleep and try again on the next day. Relax if it does not work out immediately. It’s trial and error 🙂