Life tends to move pretty quickly, and can oftentimes feel like a race to meet our goals and milestones. Whether it’s the dream job, beautiful house, or perfect family, we seem to always have our minds channelled into ‘what could be’ and who will get there first. Although I am an advocate for aiming for the stars, it is also super important to step back every now and then to focus on the smaller things — this is how to avoid being swept away in a crashing wave of pressure and anxieties.
Finding calm during chaos is a skill that can be learned and in turn, brings a boost of productivity and success to your everyday life. Sometimes it can feel like even our own minds have a mind of their own, but the wonderful thing about our thinking patterns is that they’re ours to change and mould. Practising gratitude can sound overwhelming (and maybe even a little woo-woo), but I promise, a grateful mindset is a powerful mindset that can be mastered to your advantage.
As someone whose philosophy is built on trying to ‘seize the yay’, I’ve worked hard to find the gratitude practices that work best for me, and I encourage you to start on your own mindfulness journey with these simple steps.
Keep a Journal
Contrary to popular belief, journalling doesn’t have to take the intimidating form of ‘Dear Diary’, or writing page after page every day. Picking up a pen and simply writing down three things that you feel lucky to have can change your whole mood for the day. The liberating thing about journalling is that you’re writing for yourself and not for anyone else, so it doesn’t have to make sense — even a stream of consciousness can help you clarify things you didn’t realise you thought or felt.
I see journalling as the process of taking a big, knotty mess of thoughts and feelings out of my head, writing them down so I can see them with some objectivity and untangle everything on paper, then putting them back in neatly again. It’s like a spring clean for the mind.
Tell Someone You Love Them
We all know how good it feels when someone shows how much they love us, so we need to get comfortable with returning the favour. Telling someone how important they are to you, how much you cherish your relationship, is only going to see you nurture these bonds and encourage you to give and receive more affection (which we could all do with a little more of right now).
If verbal communication isn’t your love language, you can show you care in other ways: make a hot tea for your housemate, send a self-care package to your sister, and spend quality time with your mum. I often say that the quickest way to make your own day is to make someone else’s.
Connect With Nature
The beautiful thing about the natural world is its ability to instantly boost your mood and calm your thoughts. Stepping outside and immersing yourself in sunshine and fresh air is a magical tool in helping us realise that the world is so much bigger than what goes on inside our heads.
Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed about things, sometimes the simplicity and consistency of nature can help restore perspective about what’s really important and what’s really going to matter to you in a week, year or even five years’ time. Nature runs at its own beautiful pace, and spending some time outside without the clutter of noise or stimulation can be so refreshing.
Nourish Your Body
Being grateful for our health and wellbeing means we need to constantly thank our bodies. Sourcing fresh, whole foods and cooking with love does exactly that and shows our efforts to preserve that healthy way of life.
Plants have the power to make us both look and feel good thanks to the added antioxidants, so snatch up as many as you can and try to make friends with salad… Depending on your routine and responsibilities, you might not find the time each day to make a conscious meal. I tend to rely on the plant power from my favourites over at Soulara — freshly made, dietician-approved meals conveniently delivered straight to my door.
Move Your Body
If you don’t know by now that exercise is an instant mood-boosting, endorphine-creating superpower then you must have been living under a rock. As much as you might not want to, you need to get sweaty. Every day! I don’t care how you do it; run, swim, pilates, have sex, mix it up and make sure you acknowledge how great it is to be able to move when you’re feeling stuck.
Harnessing that happy hormone is crucial and as a result, you’ll be a more balanced, productive, and proactive version of yourself. You’ll never regret exercising afterwards when that dopamine rushes through your body.
Nothing makes a person feel better than really knowing and owning who they are. It took me a few years to truly figure it out (and let’s face it, I’m still working out parts of it), but I’m so grateful to have finally found my own unique passions, strengths and values and how they all intersect and interact best with each other.
Life is too short to waste a moment living by someone else’s rules, expectations or standards — we are all completely different so it makes sense that our food, style, exercise, hobbies, and every preference will differ too. Be proud of yourself. And avoid people who don’t accept every part of your beautiful, unique self.
Mastering gratitude is easy and just takes a little practice, and the best thing about these tips is that you can do them at your own pace, anytime, anywhere. When life is feeling hectic, it can be so valuable to have the skill of appreciating the smaller things and reminding ourselves the world isn’t as scary as it may seem.
Sarah Davidson is the co-founder of Matcha Maiden and Matcha Mylkbar and is a brand ambassador for Soulara.