How’s your week going? Your day? Really, how are you? Have you checked in with yourself or even taken a conscious breath? Do you feel as if you’ve lost your life? Not so long ago, I never checked in with myself or noticed my pace in the world. Every morning, I’d wake up anxious, scramble through the day, collapse numb and exhausted at night, and then get up and do it all over again the next day.
The days turned into months, which turned into years. Before I knew it, I was 50, burned out, and depleted. I didn’t want to do anything anymore. My motivation, creativity, and desire for anything were barely whispers. I had lost my life and sadly, me. After suffocating in my suffering, I decided to choose a different path. I wanted to live and breathe differently, and wake up in the morning eager to greet the day and all the opportunities before me. I longed to feel inspired and creative again. Honestly, I simply wanted my life back.
Here’s what I did and still do. The following strategies revived, reenergized, and reignited my mind, body, spirit, and most importantly, me. They’re simple, relatively economical, and can be done at any time of day. I’ve presented them in the order that I added them to my life; however, add them to your life in your own order. What’s most important is to experiment with them, change them up, and make them your own. They helped me get my life back. I believe they can help you get yours back too.
We’re turning into a nation of sitters. We sit way longer than our bodies were designed to, which is contributing to a variety of health issues. Our bodies were meant to move and consistent intentional movement several times a week is proven to positively influence our health and overall well being.
Taking back your life involves scheduling movement into your week. Move anyway you like and love. Experiment with all types of movement until you find the movements you enjoy best and that make your mind and body feel amazing. It doesn’t have to be the circuit machines at the local Y. Bore me to tears. Consider dancing, yoga, team sports, walking, Tai chi, or playing tag with your children or Frisbee with your dog. The point is to move consistently for approximately 30 minutes, three times a week.
2. Eat Clean
Many of our health and wellness issues are a result of what we eat. Not eating well can influence how we feel and how we show up in our lives. You’ve heard of brain fog, right? Food can play a role. The food choices available are vast and not always what’s best for our minds and bodies. We’ve become a nation of fast and convenient, which has had detrimental effects on the food we eat.
Taking back your life means taking back your food and how you eat. Clean eating involves eating food without all the junkie fake stuff in it, such as preservatives, sugar, additives, and even caffeine. Clean eating is not a diet; it’s an eating lifestyle. Play around with different choices and options. Stick to food that you and your body enjoy while spicing it up with natural herbs, oils, and unique combinations. For example, I mix blueberries, banana, and walnuts in whole milk yogurt with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top every morning. It’s light, satisfying, and my body loves it.
I used to be one of those people who refused to meditate. However, once I stopped resisting and noticed the benefits, I was hooked. I meditate every morning. It’s the best way to start my day. My mind is clearer, I’m more focused, and my anxiety decreased significantly after meditating for a few months. Taking back your life means taking time to tune in. As little as 3-5 minutes of daily meditation is proven to relieve anxiety and care for the mind. Most important is to create a meditation practice that works for you. Experiment with the many types of styles of meditation until you find your sweet spot. I use the Calm App mostly.
If you’re new to meditation, ease into it by finding a comfortable position, closing your eyes, and noticing your breathing. Inhale and exhale slowly. If your mind wanders, and it will, that’s okay. Gently without judgment return to your breathing. You can also add a favorite phrase or mantra, such as “Ohm,” “I am love,” or “Be here now.”
4. Make Space
Nothing energizes me more than cleaning out a closet or drawer and making space. I feel as if I can breathe freer when I have less stuff around me. It’s easier to clean, move, and yes, breathe with more space. Taking back your life includes taking back your spaces at home and at work. Begin to envision how you will feel when you have space to stretch out, create, and dream. Select one area of your home, office, or even car to take back. Start small, even if it’s 5%. Drawers and shelves are great places to start. You might even begin with your refrigerator.
Notice how you feel as you empty, discard, and make space. Avoid getting trapped in what to do with what. Simply clear the clutter, donate, recycle, and sell what you can. Let the rest go and breathe. You might even grow to love the hum of your shredder.
5. Manage Your Mind
For most of us, managing our mind, or mindset will be the most challenging practice. Why? Because our brain is hardwired to seek safety, comfort, and efficiency, it will always think negative thoughts first as a means of survival. This is why some experts believe that happiness is a skill that we have to learn because of the brain’s primitive tendency to think negatively. Taking back your life involves taking back your mind. By becoming the curious observer of our thoughts, we interrupt the negative thought patterns that take over our mind and life. A variety of mindset practices exist such as Byron Katie’s, “The Work,” which you can locate on her website.
If you’re new to mindset work, start with downloading every negative thought in your mind on paper. Look at the thoughts closely and then ask yourself, “How do these thoughts make me feel?” “How do I act when I think these thoughts?” “Why am I thinking these thoughts?” “What might be different if I didn’t think these thoughts?” Repeat daily or when consumed with negative thoughts and beliefs.
6. Clean Up Your Calendar
Look at your calendar. Are you able to find you in it? Most likely not. Everything and everyone else has a timeslot on your calendar, but do you? We simply do too much and exhaust ourselves trying to do more in order to be more and have more. It’s crazy making! Taking back your life includes taking back your time. Of course, we have responsibilities, deadlines, and due dates to meet. However, we do not have to be everything to everybody. There is no rule that says we have to say, “Yes!” to every request, opportunity, or need.
It’s okay to spend the weekend in your jammies doing what you love most, which might be losing yourself in a riveting movie, or a juicy novel, or watching the clouds drift through the sky. I’m not saying jump on Facebook and scroll your day away. The point is to give your calendar, time, and you a break. Give time to what lights you up and brings you joy. Taking back your life is perhaps the most personal act of self-care and self-advocacy that you can give yourself. Whereas it requires commitment and courage, it reaps amazing long-lasting benefits and results.