I'm a go-getter. I draft. I plan. I send follow-up emails (yes, sometimes more than one).
It may not surprise you that I have a hard time sitting still.
In some ways, I value these qualities. They help me make the most out of my short time on this earth. On the other hand, I also appreciate the peace that comes when I have little to do; warm summer nights walking around the park with a friend, or lying in bed, letting my thoughts drift into the night. At this stage in my life, I'm trying to find a way to incorporate that restfulness into my every day, which is often hectic and busy. I want to approach my days with gratitude - not with the constant desire to be doing something else, something more.
Over the past few years, I've developed a few tips for living with a restful attitude. I am no expert, just someone finding joy in the journey to a more balanced life. Here are seven tips I've found for cultivating an everyday peace.
1. Time spent in nature.
My dad is a pilgrim. Almost every year, he takes a few weeks out of his schedule and backpacks through Spain on a pilgrimage called the Camino de Santiago. He finds immense peace and self-discovery during that time, but not everyone needs to travel to Spain to get the same frame of mind. Nature is all around us; even bustling cities have parks that allow for a little fresh air. I find that spending time in these spaces - wandering through trails, strolling through the park, or even sitting in my back yard - brings me immense peace when I'm otherwise feeling stressed and disconnected.
2. Deep breathing.
Have you ever taken a deep breath in the middle of a hectic moment? I find that deep breathing brings me so much calm when I'm stressed or anxious. Give it a try - close your eyes, place your hand on your stomach, and try to breathe deeply enough that your hand moves as you inhale and exhale. This kind of deep breathing me helps to relax and focus on where I am in this moment, rather than worrying about what I'll do later.
3. Keeping an eye on caffeine.
I love coffee. I could drink three cups a day if you'd let me. However, I've noticed over the years that too much coffee or tea makes me anxious. The limit is different for everyone, but if you notice yourself being more jumpy or jittery than usual, consider cutting down your caffeine by just one less cup a day. This can make a surprising difference in your mood, and help achieve some inner calm in an otherwise busy schedule.
4. Physical activity.
One of the best ways to get peace of mind is to exercise. It gets your heart rate up and your body working, but it's also a great way to center yourself or get rid of any extra anxiety that may be lingering. Yoga, swimming, and running are some great ways to get yourself moving, but there are plenty of other great ways to get active that leave you feeling refreshed. Even taking a walk is a good way to be active.
5. Time spent with others.
Nothing makes my day like time spent with a friend. Friends help me relax, regain perspective, and have fun. One of the best ways to achieve a peaceful day-to-day life is to make time for your social life, by spending time with friends, family, and the people who mean the most to you.
I'm a true internet addict. I'm always checking my phone and my computer for new email and social media messages. However, I notice that if I get too sucked in and give my online life too much weight, my real life suffers. A big part of having a peaceful day to day life, for me, is taking some time away from the internet every now and then. Resist the urge to check your online profiles, and instead, spend some time reading a book or, as I mentioned above, being with those you love.
7. Prayer, mindfulness, or meditation.
Quiet time spent with you and your thoughts can be so important. I find special comfort in prayer, but if you're not religious, mindfulness or meditation may be helpful for you. This time is a great moment for grounding yourself and becoming aware of where you are in your life. I find that prayer and daily mindfulness exercises help me make the most out of my day and stay grateful.
My days are by no means perfect. I still get as stressed out and anxious as the next girl, but I find that using these practices, when I can, helps me stay calm and focused, and lets me make the most out of every day. I hope they do the same for you.
Sara is a student and blogger at Sara Laughed, where she writes about college life, love, and wellness. During the day you'll find her in the library, working away at her Religion degree, but evenings are for blogging and time spent with friends. Come celebrate life with her over at Sara Laughed!