As we prepare for sabbatical, I have long lists of things that I’m looking forward to doing when I have more time and space. But why wait?
I’m starting to ease into sabbatical now by introducing these rituals or habits into my daily or semi-daily routines. These little customs make me feel good, relax me, and keep me motivated, eager to reach day one of our big adventure and all the other BIG changes and opportunities that will be part of it.
Whether or not you are planning for a sabbatical, these are things you can do right now to improve the quality of your life in small but meaningful ways. The key to a ritual is to practice it regularly, so that it just becomes a natural part of how you experience your day.
- Enjoy a hot beverage in a “happy mug” every morning. I gave up boring matching mugs long ago and instead collect special mugs that make me smile every morning as I enjoy my cup of coffee.
- Use yummy smelling products to wash and moisturize your face every night. Recently, my 41 year old skin has been beckoning for more than a simple washcloth scrub. So, I now have a whole regimen that I look forward to each night. So calming before bed…It’s a mish mash of products I’ve tried over the years to come up with ones I like because they smell good and/or leave my skin feeling very clean and very soft. Use them sparingly to make them last!
- Dermalogica daily microfoliant (no smell but soft soft soft skin!)
- Murad hydrating cleanser (smells like peaches and cucumber; I use morning and night)
- Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair serum (pricey, but love the elasticity it puts back in my skin overnight)
- Estee Lauder Resilience Lift Night Cream (smells like roses, which reminds me of my grandmother)
- Do a “2 minute sit” before work. That’s essentially a 2-minute meditation, and you really can’t say that you don’t have time for 2 minutes, can you? I like the Calm app for my iphone. You will be amazed how clearing your mind for just 2 minutes can make a difference in starting your day off right. Most of the time I do it in the parking garage before I get out of my car and walk in the door to the office.
- Express gratitude on a regular basis. When you say thank you, you acknowledge the value of another person, without judgment and without qualification. That simple action sets in motion a reciprocity that will come back to you many times over, reminding you that you have enough and you are enough in this world.
- Use your own personal mantra to re-focus throughout the day. Several times throughout the day, I say to myself, “I am enough. I have enough.” Find your own mantra that motivates you and makes you feel like you can take on anything!
- Take a hot bath at least once a week during the winter. I highly recommend epsom salts to soothe sore muscles and minor skin irritations. Bath bombs are also fun, but bubbles tend to dry out my skin so I’ve been avoiding bubble baths. Summer alternative: Sit on the front porch (or sidewalk, or park, anywhere outside) with a glass of wine (or your favorite summer beverage) and a good book for 20 minutes a few times a week.
- Enjoy a night of solitude. Date nights are an obvious ritual, but nights of solitude are just as essential for maintaining a balanced relationship with the other most important person in your life–You!
- Hold one day a week as a no-TV day. Replace TV with listening to music or reading a book. Disconnecting is essential to maintaining peace, especially in these times of media overload.
- Practice myofascial release. My trainer got me hooked on this–there is nothing better than rolling out the tension in your muscles on a hard little ball (think lacrosse ball) or foam roller. And it’s way cheaper than a massage. I bought a pink myofascial release ball on amazon.com for $8, along with a foam roller for $12. You Tube has great how to videos.
- Use a neti pot. The neti pot (i.e saline rinse for nasal passage) restores my dry nose and makes life in the Colorado desert bearable. Just mix in the little saline packets that come with it with warm water, tilt your head to the side over the sink, and let the flow of the neti pot do the rest of the work. Have a tissue or washcloth on had for a gentle blow after each nostril. I had never even heard of it until my doctor recommended it to relieve my dry nose and sinuses, and now I can’t live without it. I thought it sounded like craziness to pour salt water up my nose, and maybe it is, but just call me crazy!
- Call your parents. As our parents age, we come to rely on them in different ways, and them on us. Take the opportunity to get to know your parents all over again by reconnecting frequently. I call my Mom every day on my way home from work. She doesn’t have the best memory anymore, so this little bit of consistency helps her and it helps me too, to know that she is okay and to hear a little about her day. Consider reflecting on the conversations and writing about them to capture important family history.
- Ask your partner, “What can I do to make your life easier today?” I read an article once about this, and it really does make a difference when we give up asking for what we need or want and focus on the ones we love. Trust me, it comes back to you. Every day, no matter if things are good or bad with your other half, ask that person what you can do for them. You have to be authentic and true, and you have to follow through. But if you do it, you will find a deep connection and that love will flow back to you. It becomes a habit to be good to one another, not out of guilt or obligation, but out of love and respect.
- Warm your blanket in the dryer before snuggling up under it! Why? Because it feels awesome!
- Write. Words matter. There is little else in life like putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and expressing yourself. Do it in a journal, or start a blog like this one, or just write an email or letter to a friend to catch up. I’ve found that the written word connects me not only with others but with myself in a deeper way than anything else. I make time everyday to reflect and write, often for this blog, but also to my friends to reconnect, or to say thank you to a colleague, or in a journal just to get things off my chest for no one but myself.
- Use a laundry scent booster in the wash. I just started doing this, and it’s a little thing that feels like a luxury when I’m doing my least favorite chore. It makes your clothes smell wonderful for weeks just by adding some to the washing machine when you wash your clothes. I started by using Downy Unstoppables, but quickly realized I could make my own! I use this recipe by Clean Mama, which just requires epsom salts and essential oils. So easy!
- Keep loose dollars in your car to offer to those in need as you drive by. Giving feels so much better than receiving. Make it a habit.
- Take the time to transition at bedtime. For me that means turning off the television, going upstairs with the dogs, doing my night time face washing ritual (see above), and reading or playing Alphabetty in bed for 20 minutes before closing my eyes to fall asleep. I used to just go upstairs and go straight to bed, or rush around doing stuff before falling into the bed exhausted. Taking this time to transition makes a difference to my state of mind and peacefulness at the end of the day.
- Have a few theme songs and listen to them every day. I add a new fave song every few months or so, and then there are the steadfast ones that never change (Girls Just Wanna Have fun, obviously). Music makes you feel good. It’s like magic. It’s powerful. Use it. My current two faves are Humble and Kind by Tim McGraw and Brand New by Ben Rector.
- As soon as you get home, put on something comfortable that you love. Whether it’s out of style, out of season, dirty, or what, you deserve to be comfortable when you get home from work! My standard these days is a pair of buttery soft leggings (Lularoe addict, here), a sweatshirt, and some converse. Ready to roll!
- Get to know someone new or in a new way. Ask your server, clerk, neighbor, colleague, really anyone, about their journey to where they are and what they are planning next. You never know where you will find inspiration or a chance to inspire others! I try to do this every day, and it’s one of the things I’m looking forward to doing more as we travel during our sabbatical.
If you want more tips for keeping your life simple and happy, check out my 5-week minimalism challenge!
What are you doing to bring balance and joy to your life every day?