December 22, 2013

I, after years of anxiety, decided about a year ago that I needed to simplify my life.

Now, this included some obvious stuff I list below, but I also decided that—when I grew up—I wanted a simpler life. I have always driven myself to the point of physical sickness to achieve, to gain some success. Last year, I realized this drive was something created by outside pressures and not from this internal fire in my heart (or whatever). I was sick of working myself sick in the hopes of someday being able to (afford to) relax. So, I’ve been trying to live my life in the present. It’s been Type A hell at times, but I’m already seeing a better quality of life.

I wanted to share things I have been doing thus far to help cultivate a more relaxing, simpler life.

Making it a habit to clean out my closet, and kitchen refrigerator and cabinets. I am the type of person that stuffs everything into a closet and closes the door in hopes that crap doesn’t come falling out when friends are over. I have been making it a monthly habit to clean out my closet and a weekly habit to clean out my refrigerator and cabinets. GUYS: I waste so much money. I found shirts I rarely wore, 5 bottles of oregano, and expired stuff I never got to because the new stuff hid it. It’s funny how more stuff can make you seem like you have less.

Since doing this I have found that I am more likely to use what I have (because I see it and it’s easily accessible and not hidden). I have also stopped online shopping for a hobby, because apparently I don’t wear the stuff enough. I’m not bashing online shopping; I’m just a broke graduate student that should be more careful with that cash. You hear?

Picking up some quiet, domestic habits. I have found that picking up quiet, domestic hobbies have made my time at home more relaxing. I could watch television all day if I wanted to, but I’m not sure if it was making me any less anxious.

When I was at Whole Foods one day, I decided to pick up an aloe plant. I thought, “Here is a plant, I will try not to kill it.” I took it home and read everything online about it. I watered it and trimmed off all the outshoots that were killing the base mother plant. I generally liked having this plant around. I also noticed my house became cleaner when I had this plant, as if they were house guests I didn't want to disappoint.

Then I bought all the succulents in the land. Then, I was like plants are cool. Then, I started exploring my front yard, which is overgrown with wild plants and animals. I was like a kid again, and there is something inherently relaxing living life with a childlike curiosity.

Developing a morning routine. I have noticed that when I start the day in a relaxed state, the rest of my day usually follows. I got into the habit of sleeping in, which led to a frantic race to get out the door. I have been making an effort to wake up an hour earlier (it’s a hard habit), making some tea/coffee, and sitting on my porch and writing (no computer) about what I needed to do that day or any feelings I may have. 

Meditating when I get worked up. So I used to have anxiety attacks on the daily and I used to fight through them, because I had so much to do. You know what? If you fight through that type of thing, you just turn in crappy work. Also, you aren't happy. So, I started to meditate (along with changing a lot of other life things) whenever I felt anxious. I think it helped because it required me to focus on my breathing, clear my head of all the stresses, and focus on what’s important: my health. I also started to meditate before bed a lot, since that’s when my mind races most.

So, this is just a small list and I’m sure it will grow over time. I’m always ready to try something new; that’s where you come in! What are some things you do to relax? Slow things down? Remember the simple joys? I’d love to hear!