50 Tiny Calming Habits for a Happier Life

50 tiny calming habits for a happier life
Photo by Simon Migaj on Pexels.com

As a lawyer, learning calming habits are a must. I’m a typically type-A nutjob. Now, a lot of people think being type-A means you’re a jerk, and there’s definitely a correlation. There’s just something about Type-A people that makes them think that they are in a constant battle with time. Because of that, Type-A people are prone to stress and stress-related illnesses. And that can easily translate into being a jerk.

So I have a fair amount of built-in anxiety, that manifests in many different ways. Growing up, my piano teacher would always tell me to relax my shoulders. My doctor would tell me to relax my tongue; my dentist told me to unclench my jaw. Basically any part of me that could be tense, was tense all the time unless instructed otherwise. I was also a worried little kid. We spent a lot of time in Chinatown in Manhattan when I was growing up and whenever we would go shopping, my eyes were stuck on my dad’s back pocket, to make sure he didn’t get robbed. This was when I was six, and it wasn’t that dangerous there – even for pickpockets. Even now, when I enter my apartment by myself, I check all the closets and the bathtub for murderers, just in case.

I only recently learned that this was not normal.

But rather than consign myself to a life of anxiety and fear, unhappiness and stress-related illnesses, I’ve really tried to fight it. I’ve tried to reduce as much stress as possible from my life. Here are some of the calming habit tips I’ve used over the years to make my life a little happier.

[Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a small amount of money if you click and buy the linked products, but I am only recommending products that I already use]

Waking Up Calming Habits

1. Having Something to Look Forward To

I’m a morning person, which means that I have no problem waking up early, usually.  I don’t drink coffee, and I sometimes spring up fully awake before 6am without an alarm. That doesn’t mean, however, that I find it easy to get out of bed. So even when my body feels well-rested, I can linger too long in bed when I don’t want to face the day. And that’s ok. Some people do gratitude lists in the morning. To get myself out of bed, I just need to think of something I’m looking forward to that day. It doesn’t have to be something big or even that fun. It could be finally finishing an annoying project. A delicious dinner. Drinks with friends. A cute outfit. Whatever it is, try to think of something good for your day and keep that thought so you can stop hiding under your covers.

2. Waking up with sunlight.

I purposely picked an apartment that got a lot of sunlight and my blinds are always open. I don’t even own curtains (they get dusty anyway). It makes it much tougher to stay in bed when there’s so much light streaming through. And even during the winter, I use a Light Therapy Lamp so I can wake up to a gradually increasing bright light (simulating the sun) coinciding with 6am. It’s a great way to start the day (and otherwise would be very jarring to wake up in darkness and then expose yourself to the sun). I don’t use an alarm but this habit helps me wake up at exactly the same time every day.

3. Drinking lemon water.

Lemon water just makes my body feel so clean in the morning (ahem, it helps with bowel movements). Plus I get tons of Vitamin C, which is helpful for iron absorption (I have an iron deficiency, like many women). Also, lemon water doesn’t make me hungry the way tea or coffee do so I can drink it throughout the day as a little flavor to my water without making me ravenous and hangry (and that means less sugar and less caffeine – for a calmer me). When I don’t have my lemon water in the morning, my body just feels sluggish.

4. Leaving my phone outside of my bedroom.

This might not work if I have kids who go to sleepaway camp, but while I still don’t have any real responsibilities, the phone is always outside my bedroom. My bedroom is a no screens place. No TV, no phone, no other electronics (except for the light therapy lamp). I wake up in the morning and have to leave my bedroom to check any devices and I can’t fall asleep to the boob tube, which is supposed to make falling and staying asleep easier.

5. Checking my phone first thing.

This tip seems like it negates the previous one. But I’m a strong believer in “eat the frog first.” That is, if you have something difficult to do, it’s best to know about it as early as possible and to do it as soon as possible. So, though I keep my phone outside my bedroom, once I wake up, I go to my phone first thing to find out if there’s anything that needs to be done immediately or later that morning.

Most of the time, there’s nothing new when I wake up (because I’ve checked my phone right before going to bed), which gives me immediate calm. Most of the other times, I can handle any requests in a few minutes or reply to all that I will handle whatever needs to be done when I get into the office. I would find it hard to go through the rest of the morning not knowing what is expected of me. This quick action just gives me the peace of mind I need to go forward with my morning.

6. All-Natural Oral Hygiene.

Now hear me out, this is pretty weird. Oil pulling is basically swishing oil in your mouth like a mouthwash. Then you use a tongue scraper to remove any weird things that the oil has loosened in your mouth. It makes my mouth feel super clean.

Another natural part of my oral hygiene routine – I use Baking Soda and Coconut Oil on my teeth with a little Peppermint Oil as my toothpaste. I make a batch every few weeks or so. But after using my own unsweetened toothpaste, regular toothpaste tastes like putting sugar on my teeth. Putting sugar on your teeth just makes you crave more sweets. I realize it’s “fake sugar” but even so, I don’t like having my mouth taste like candy in the morning. I have enough of a sweet tooth as it is!

I’ve heard that this toothpaste regimen is too abrasive for regular teeth and that I need to use “regular” toothpaste. I don’t think is true, or at least, I haven’t had any problems. Lots of commercial toothpastes are incorporating baking soda into their formulas. Also, ever since I switched my toothpaste, done oil pulling and tongue scraping, I’ve had zero problems at the dentist, whereas before I would always have cavities.

My dentist had previously noted that my gums were receding, but haven’t mentioned it since I started doing this routine. My dentist (and some of my friends) have all noticed my naturally white teeth (the oil pulling makes your teeth whiter). Additionally, it’s nice to start your day with a super clean mouth. (It’s kind of like that maxim of washing your mouth out with soap, but this is much less terrible-tasting). When I forget to do these things, I worry about bad breath and just my mouth rotting in general (see, I can worry about anything).

7. Minimizing my beauty routine.

I found that the skin on my face improved when I stopped washing it. Your mileage may vary but I think it’s no coincidence that non-Westernized cultures have virtually no incidence of acne. I also noted that when I read beauty blogs, that the people who reported never washing their faces had the most beautiful skin. The comments for these articles were always “that person is so lucky!” but what if it’s not luck? Maybe they’re avoiding the culprit – skin cleansers that strip skin of their natural oils.

I’ve also come to terms that I’m not great at following routines and I’m not vain enough to care. So even when I would buy into a fancy routine, I would never follow it and it would add clutter to my bathroom.

So instead my morning beauty routine is moisturizing and putting on sunscreen. A flick of eyeliner and I’m ready to go out the door.

8. Purchasing in bulk.

I really like shopping but I hate needing to shop because I ran out of something (I would much prefer leisurely window shopping for stuff I don’t need). It would be really annoying to run out of toilet paper in the morning. Or contact lens solution. Or any other thing you need to get ready before work. I shop at Costco (I will write another post some other day – why a single person without a car shops at Costco) because I hate running out of things.

I always see these money diaries where people buy a single chicken breast, 6 oz of rice and 1 potato on their shopping trips. What a waste of time! Instead, I can skip shopping for weeks without worrying about running out of things. So this saves me a fair amount of time shopping because if I don’t HAVE to go to the store, I won’t. It makes it easier to cook, because I have everything I need, which means I’m healthier and saving money. And it means I don’t have this nagging worry about running out of things.

Some of the things that I buy in such large quantities that I consider them annual purchases – dishwasher detergent, garbage bags, baking soda (seriously baking soda is the best in bulk. You can also use it to make an abrasive scrub to basically clean anything you want, as well), Swiffer refills, liquid soap, sponges, laundry detergent, Chlorox bleach wipes, toothbrush heads, epsom salts, and coconut oil.

Other things I buy in the largest quantities I can find – rice or grains, meat, frozen veggies, tea, hair conditioner. It gives me comfort that work could go crazy or the apocalypse could come, and I would still be able to stay home in my jammies for months before I need to buy anything.

Morning routine

9. Intermittent Fasting

Now, I know this is going to sound a little extreme, but I’ve found that only eating one meal a day works for me. For one, there are the savings. I save the time required to plan for, shop, make, and clean up after two meals a day. I save the money required to buy the food.  Additionally, I just have more energy when my body isn’t digesting all the time.

10. Lifting weights.

I was always terrible with lifting weights, but I know I need to! Now I just have a short routine with simple Adjustable Ankle or Wrist Weights. No excuses, it’s in the routine now. Lifting weights makes me stronger and better able to face the day. It’s also a great stress reliever. I realize I’m never going to look like Madonna by doing a simple routine, but even a little boost of strength is better than nothing. As they say, the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

11. Reading a chapter of a book in the morning.

I realize that a lot of people are very anti-Tim Ferriss but I find his latest books – Tools of Titans and Tribe of Mentors to be fascinating. They’re basically chock-a-block full of little life hacks from the most successful people in the world (perfect if you like reading lists like this). Also, the inspiration for my one-meal-a-day habit and the one-good-breath-a-day habit (below) came from Tools of Titans.

Problem for me is that 1) I own the books and I never read books that I own and 2) both books are incredibly long. But each chapter is only a few pages long. So I’ve decided to tackle each book by reading one chapter a day. Yes, it’ll take me the whole year to finish reading, but I will finally finish reading it. And I get to digest each chapter for the day. It’s like my mini-meditation and it makes me feel good that I’m learning new ideas in the morning, even if only bit by bit.

12. Foam Rolling/stretching.

I would like to say I do this as precaution, but actually the last two massages I had were agony when the masseuses even touched my legs. They were so tight. It is a luxury to get a massage, but you can’t actually pay your way out of pain. You have to put in the work (unless you have a personal Thai massage assistant at your back and call every day). So in order to even appreciate having a massage, I have to get my body in shape to receive one.

I had read somewhere that you have to spend an equal amount of time recovering from your day as preparing for it. I’m not sure that’s true but I know that years of not recovering (not stretching, not breathing, constant stress and anxiety) has left me so tight that I couldn’t even get a massage. So now I’ve become proactive. I realize that getting a massage is like going to the trainer – the pro can only do so much. Most of your advancement is in the homework. Most of what will help you or kill you is your daily lifestyle decisions.

Stretching and foam rolling (I also like using these Therapy Balls) are activities that require repeated practice. It can’t just be “I’ll stretch today for 2 hours!” and then never stretch again. You have to give your body some time to rest in between and after, so that your body will be able to go further into the stretch. I like this book for its foam roller beginner plan. After mandating a little foam roller time, my hips aren’t constantly in pain! Small (but significant) gains.

13. Streamlining my clothing selection.

I like everything in my closet. Full stop. I can pick anything off the line and wear it and I wouldn’t hate my day.

My main closet is only for work clothes – casual clothes or workout clothes go in the dresser or in the other closet. So I face all my work clothes every day, with no other clothes in the way. They are organized by color.

In addition, I’ve divided my closet in half with a blue ribbon separating the middle. I only pick stuff to wear from one side of the closet. Once I wear something I move it to the other side of the closet. I continue until everything is on the other side of the closet. Then I just start over on the other side. Most of these items are dresses so I just pick a dress and go. If something is ripped or dirty, it goes in a separate area but everything in the closet is ready to go. As the system proceeds, my decisions get fewer and fewer. Decision fatigue is debilitating for me. This way, with fewer decisions, even if I become indecisive, I can just pick the next thing in line and I’ll be fine with my outfit.

It’s not the same as being a minimalist and only having 10 items of clothing, but it does streamline my decision making. Everything I do with regard to my work clothing is about reducing decisions. I said above I buy things in bulk, but that’s for things that are exhaustible. For things that don’t run out, and that you can only use one of at a time, I have minimalist-ed to one. I have ONE pair of work shoes. I have ONE work purse. ONE blazer, ONE pair of flat sandals that I use for commuting, ONE watch. No decisions required because there’s no selection. And that’s fine by me. I make enough decisions in my day.

14. Avoiding certain stressful activities.

My morning routine is as notable for what it doesn’t have as what it does. Of course I check my phone in the morning – I’m human.

But I stopped listening to the news. I’ve learned that it’s not helpful and it’s not important. When someone is surprised that I don’t know what the latest Trump tweets were about – well, then they’ll just be surprised. I’m not envious of people who know what the tweet is about or those that think that knowing means I’m informed or intelligent.

  • I don’t watch TV in the morning (I don’t own a TV).
  • I cut out all negative and otherwise toxic people.
  • I don’t consume media that is negative
  • I don’t drink coffee – coffee just makes me jittery and then sleepy. And I’ve read that even being exposed to coffee culture can make you see time as shorter – potentially making it harder to slow down and savor life’s experiences.

Basically, I try to start the day with silence and peace as a stark contrast from what will soon happen at my job.

15. Getting rid of something everyday.

Whenever some item gets in my way of finding something else, and I can’t figure out why I would have this item anyway, I’ll just toss it. (Caveat: every now and then I’ll realize what I tossed and regret it, but 95% of the time, this serves to reduce clutter without repercussions).

Also, if I hate something, I’ll throw it away. It seems like a small thing but I know I’ve gotten rid of a lot of little obstacles in my apartment every day because of this. I’m not very organized and I hate taking care of objects so I’ve learned to shop less. Not shopping means less stuff to take care of, organize, and then ultimately throw away because I can never figure out how to keep track of it all. Ultimately, for me, less stuff means less stress. And getting rid of stuff I hate is also less stress.

I used to date a guy who got the Economist and he would throw the old one out immediately when the new one came in. Such discipline! I’ve learned to be as ruthless. I try to throw 50 things out each week (I never find 50 things to throw out but I will find at least 10).

Also, don’t have a junk drawer. Just get rid of the junk. You’ll thank yourself.

16. Spending 30 minutes out in the sun/exercising.

I bike to work and try to bike home. It’s often the only exercise I get through the day. It is also meditative (I usually think of blog posts on my bike ride). If I bike to and from work, it’s an entire hour out in the fresh air.

I also bike everywhere to save a few minutes on places that are really close by but would be annoying to walk to (there’s that Type-A resurfacing). It’s really hard to stay stressed when you’re on a bike in the sunshine for half an hour. Nearly everyone is Vitamin D-deprived, and getting more sun is a great pick-me-up.

During the Day Calming Habits

 

17. Having all sorts of pick me ups in the office.

I always have red lipstick because seeing red puts you in a better mood. My favorite perfumes are in my office because, the same thing with smelling something beautiful. I have lotion for my face so it doesn’t get too dry. I have dry shampoo and hair oil so my hair will look ok. Hand sanitizer is always on hand because, well, that’s just good sense.

This little tip I got from Whitney Cummings: I keep a folder on my phone of happy photos. They could be screenshots of texts with friends that make me smile or cute photos. But when I’m stressed or lonely or overwhelmed, I have a little respite in the world.

I have things in my office that make me happy. I spend a lot of time there so it just makes good sense to have a way of picking myself up and feeling good about myself throughout the day.

18. Only exposing myself to media worth sharing.

My ex and I used to keep a blog. We have very strange religious and political views so we saw each other as refuges for discussing things. We would link articles that we wanted to discuss and then we would discuss them. We would always link at least three articles per blog post. So when I read stuff online, I would look at the articles very critically. I would wonder if it was good enough for the blog.

And it became clear which blogs were more fruitful for discussion, which ones produced articles worth discussing. I started to wonder why I would I want to read anything that had very little chance of being something I would want to talk about, to remember, to discuss. Why am I reading things when it’s clear that I won’t want to remember even tomorrow what Kylie Jenner is wearing, for example. If it’s not important to my future, it’s not important to my present.

Even now, though I don’t have that blog anymore, I do write down important things I’ve learned in a journal. And it’s a reminder that I want to fill my mind with stuff that I want to remember. I don’t want to fill my mind with stuff I immediately want to forget.

19. Spending quality time away from my phone.

I was late to the smart phone game (I got my first smart phone in 2013) but I’ve finally started to get a phone addiction. Trying to circumvent this, I’ve stopped ALL app notifications. I also have an app to block me from using my phone – I usually block myself for an hour – it’s brutal. But it brings me a little bit of peace and productivity. Another cute idea to remind you to give the phone a rest is by putting your phone in a cell phone sleeping bag.

20. Taking one good breath.

People often hate it when you tell them to breathe in a stressful situation. For me, though, it’s helpful because I often hold my breath even during generally unstressful events. So normal breathing is something I still need to work on.

Deep breathing is the ultimate goal. I’ve heard that not only do you need to take a deep breath that fills your lungs, but when you exhale, you’re supposed to really squeeze your lungs to get all the air out. In any event, focusing on even one good breath is way better than the very shallow panic breathing I use throughout the day. It also oddly makes me feel accomplished – like hey, not all my breaths sucked today!

21. Keeping a drawer of chocolate at work.

This is just good sense. This one is my favorite. It’s not an affiliate link. Chocolate just makes me happy. And sometimes you want something sweet.  And if you buy any kind of baked good around my office, it’ll run you at least $3. Having a little piece of chocolate satisfies the urge and gives me a moment of edible happiness.

22. Getting through all emails.

I try to touch everything only once in my inbox. And if I can’t respond immediately something I’m trying to do is take notes on why I don’t respond to any email immediately. But having too many emails stresses me out. It’s very calming to me to have a clean inbox.

After Work Calming Habits

23. Having a Landing Pad

This idea seems so simply it’s almost silly, but I’ve lost my keys a lot less when I placed a dish on my foyer table for them. This marble dish is very cute, but I use a dish I received as a gift.

I use a TV stand to hold my shoes. Also on that stand, is a basket for all my accessories (it also doubles as my picnic basket). So when I get home, the keys go on the plate, the shoes go in the stand, the accessories go in the basket. And I spend a lot less time searching for my stuff in the morning.

24. Not Requiring Perfection in Organizing.

I love neat spaces. I’m not a naturally neat person, however, so anything that requires perfection, such as neat lines of products, is beyond me. What I do instead is incorporate lovely places to hide stuff out of sight like covered baskets and beautiful boxes. Shovel stuff into these containers when necessary to have a neat appearance even without being a super neat person.

25. Hanging up clothes immediately.

It takes nearly the same amount of time to hang something up as it does to throw it on the ground. It keeps your clothes neat and clean, it keeps your bedroom clean, and it saves you time. It’s a no-brainer.

26. Not over-washing my clothes.

To be honest, laundry is my favorite chore. But I don’t overdo it. I’ll wear clothes several times before washing or dry cleaning. The washing and drying process damages your clothes, costs a bit (between dry cleaning costs, detergent costs, and needing more clothes when you haven’t had time to do laundry), and wastes energy (in terms of running the washer/dryer and picking up dry cleaning).

Change out of your nice clothes when you’re going to do something dirty, but don’t be worried about washing your clothes after every wear! Save time, save your clothes. You won’t be smelly or dirty, promise.

27. Having Backup Dinner.

I’m not perfect so that means I always have ramen and Oreos ready in case I had a long rough day and am too hungry to cook. Makes my life a million times better.

28. Bringing a book everywhere.

For a type-A nutjob like me, waiting in lines can induce so much anger. Having a book is a way to self-medicate. I always have at least 8 books checked out from the library at any given time, because the book I may want to read today may be different than what I wanted to read yesterday. And as a practical matter, only certain books are small enough to lug around.

If I forget my book, I have devised other ways to entertain myself. I try to practice seeing without my glasses (ok I’m extremely nearsighted, so this is actually very difficult for me). I focus on breathing. I try to work through problems. Basically, I focus on ways not to think about how angry I am becoming while standing in line.

29. Reading poetry.

Don’t think that the media ban on negativity doesn’t also extend to books! Reading a book makes you feel calmer than watching TV and I think reading poetry is the kind of activity that makes time move much more slowly. It seems ridiculously luxurious, even if you only read a short poem. But reading poetry puts you more in touch with the big picture, with art, with your creative side. It’s a lovely addition to my day.

30. Having a productive routine when a book won’t do.

Even as much as having a book makes “wasted time” feel more productive, sometimes the snippets of free time are too small to whip out a book or maybe you’re in a situation where you can’t read book easily (like when you’re walking somewhere). In those instances, I can still:

31. Taking the stairs.

I hate waiting. Taking the stairs is a little bit more exercise and keeps me from waiting. Honestly I do anything to keep myself from waiting. I use self-checkout. Sometimes I’ll put stuff back in the store that I don’t NEED to buy if I’m in a line without a book – so I can just leave the store without waiting in line. Any little movement – anywhere – makes me feel like my fight against time is less dire.

I’m moving – I’m getting somewhere. That calms my Type-A tendencies. And if I’m honest, every time there’s a fire drill I’m stunned at how out of shape I am – thus the need to take the stairs more often. It’s like lifting weights – every little bit counts.

32. Having really happy things in my apartment.

Like my Batman Shower Curtain. My Batman wall art. A gallery wall filled with family pictures, beautiful photos and dumb postcards. Tacky gold chairs. A little girls’ hot pink futon. My Keanu Reeves rug. Trinkets and souvenirs from good times.

My apartment looks like a college student dorm room. I have really junky furniture. It’s probably not befitting a lawyer who makes six figures. But I enter my apartment, I see all the things I love and I think, ahh I’m home.

33. Fewer social engagements.

In the Myers-Briggs, I’m an ENFP, which means, though I’m an extrovert, I still need a fair amount of time to myself. If I schedule social engagements every night, I get very stressed out. Therefore, I always leave some nights open to introvert.

Night Routine Calming Habits

34. Taking a bath.

I’m type-A so obviously I’m a shower kind of girl. But taking a bath is so soothing – I never regret it.

I add Epsom Salts because most people are low on magnesium and Coconut Oil so my skin is soft. Sometimes I’ll add this seaweed detox bath. The first time I used it, I slept like a dream. No screens in the bath. Only a good book, some ice water, maybe an aromatherapy diffuser or candle and myself.

35.  Packing my bag for the next day.

Even if it’s just throwing most of the stuff I need to pack in the general direction of my bag, it makes everything a little bit easier in the morning. Because I bike to work, it can get complicated packing for the day – because you have to pack everything for showering at work and your work outfit. This wouldn’t be a big deal if I didn’t bike to work because I’d just use the same purse day in and day out. But with a bike, and then sometimes taking the metro home, it can be a little more work. I don’t want to add stress to my life by biking to work so I try to pack ahead of time.

36. Keeping a list of daily and weekly goals.

I have a list of things I need to do everyday. What? A list within a list? Yep. This list is actually how I started many of these activities. It’s a way for me to remember to make progress toward my goals.

Some of the items on the list don’t necessarily make me happier or less stressed (so not on this list). Actually they often make me MORE stressed but the end goal would make me happier. The idea of finishing a large task and taking steps toward that goal consistently make me happier. And I have to remind myself that no matter what, I don’t want a zero day. Every day is important. I have to make SOME progress every day.

I run through at least 20 Chinese flash cards everyday.  I copy one week of old journal entries into Word. I write these to-dos on a list and they soon become habits. I read one chapter from each of these monstrous Tim Ferriss books – Tools of Titans. And building those habits makes me happier. Also, I eventually finish tasks that seemed impossible from the outset.

37. Remembering great moments from the year.

I keep a text file listing every week for the year and something new or fun that happened that week. It makes me feel like my life is meaningful and enjoyable even when it seems like I’ve been cooped up in the office for weeks or months.

38. Doing leg inversions for a few minutes before sleep.

I don’t know if it really works but to me, this feels like a collective sigh that the day is over. And because I always do this before bed, it reminds me to go to sleep, honestly. And it could just be me, but it makes me feel just a little bit skinnier after doing my inversions (ok I made that up but I do feel that way).

39. Writing my lessons for the day.

Every night I evaluate my day and think about the lessons that would have helped me do better. I don’t remember if this is the accurate quote but I think Coco Chanel said, every day I simplify because every day I learn something.

40. Wearing an eye mask.

If I used blackout curtains, I couldn’t wake up with sunlight (see #1). So I wear an eye mask. These Lovely Panda Face Sleep Masks Eye Masks are adorable. For whatever reason, these masks always come off in the night so my eyes are always greeted to sunlight, not to a mask. It’s probably a flaw in the mask, but it works out well for me.

41. Drifting off thinking of something positive.

I still always have nightmares (ugh to be type A) but fantasizing about wonderful things helps me fall asleep quickly. So go ahead and dream about your dream life, rather than worrying about what happened or what’s to come. This is your fun time.

42. Sleeping!

I sleep a lot. I distinctly remember Teri Hatcher stating that her diet and fitness tips included a lot of sleep and I thought she was a hack. She doesn’t eat anything! Well, it may have been true. Sleeping makes you less hungry. I also remember an anecdote from Arianna Huffington’s book from famed tennis player Andy Murray where he said that when he was well-rested, it was like the tennis balls were coming at him in slow motion.

Miscellaneous Calming Habits

43. Collecting greeting cards.

Whenever the day is tough and I’m just upset about something, it can help to direct my attention to being wonderful to someone else.

44.Writing thank you notes.

It’s another way of creating a gratitude journal (which I never figured out how to do correctly because to me, it was writing 1. family 2. health 3. finances every day) except that the people I’m thanking actually get to hear the thanks.

45. Taking pictures of beautiful things.

I got the One Second Video app. (this is an example) I saw it in the Jon Favreau movie, Chef, and was so charmed by it. I still have yet to remember to record more than a few videos.

46. Giving up sleep shame.

Basically being type-A means you berate yourself for wasting time, even when it’s not a waste. For instance, I found that tracking my sleep meant I would berate myself for sleeping. And I don’t even know what that accomplished. If I’m tired, and because I don’t have a set start time at work, I can sleep in without repercussion. I don’t want to be someone who berates themselves for sleeping 7-8 hours like a healthy person. So I’m not going to track it.

47. Saying no.

Anecdotally, my male friends are a bit less stressed than my female friends, likely because they do fewer activities, and they do fewer activities out of obligation. When I told male and female friends that I was going to start skipping baby showers because I loathe them, the female friends tried to pressure me to go for reasons beyond enjoyment (such as loyalty or societal pressure) whereas my male friends didn’t understand why I wavered about the decision.

48. Getting rid of things that overwhelm and depress me.

So umm quitting my job led to a great reduction in stress! I used to think that people who needed meaning from their work were living an unrealistic luxury world or just plain weak. But it can be very wearing on you to work long hours for years doing work that has no meaning to you whatsoever.
It’s a tremendous amount of time and you start to look at your legacy and your future, which only leads to more depression. You may not be in a position to change your job immediately, but finding some meaning in your days or in your work are integral to keep you going, for as long as you need to establish a plan.

49. Inviting People Over Often.

With the specter of friends coming over to a messy home, I always keep the place moderately neat. Left to my own devices, I’d be a mess. It seems like a lot of work, but honestly your friends don’t care what your apartment looks like, and they’re probably relieved to drink wine at your place rather than spend big bucks at a fancy restaurant.

50. Not Picking Fights.

I limit my social media, but when I see someone who has a different opinion than me or is just flat-out wrong. I don’t engage with these people. I know some people will think, you have to correct people who are ignorant, but that’s not true. First, people don’t respond to random people yelling at them on the internet. Also, I read once in a book, just because someone calls you a purple cow, that doesn’t make it true.
Someone random person’s random opinion about the world has no impact on you whatsoever. Maybe they’ll learn, maybe they won’t. Maybe you’re wrong and could learn something from them. So much of the news or people’s social media lives is shaming people or showing how “right” you are. If you just let go of this mentality of being proven right, your life will be innumerably better.

Conclusion: 50 Calming Habits for a  Saner Life


You can see a consistent pattern of reducing disorganization and clutter, reducing decisions (for decision fatigue), typical stress relieving activities and other tiny little habits that are just meant to encourage a positive outlook on life. Those are the kinds of habits that have made my life better. There are obviously bigger things I also do to make a better life (spending time with family, removing toxic friends, reducing bad habits, increasing financial security) but these habits are things that almost anyone can start doing immediately without the need for other people or a lot of money.

A guy I had been dating was looking over my shoulder while I was on my laptop and noticed that the time on my clock displayed the seconds. He said, that’s needless stress. So I got rid of it. I can’t tell if it has made me that much less stressed but if there’s a way to reduce stress, I’m keen on it. I’m always looking for new ideas.

The best thing I’ve done to ameliorate stress though, is quitting my job.

calming habits

 

Author: Lisa

A Washington, DC attorney discusses the financial struggles facing women lawyers.

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