These 7 things are what I do every day to keep me grounded in a chaotic world.
1. I wake up at the same time every day.
I’m a self-made early bird, which means that I’m in bed by 10pm. This allows me to wake up early and around the same the time every morning. My body is use to this so I don’t set an alarm. I’m up by 5:30am or at least within 10-15 minutes of that.
This allows me to check emails, work on my writing, and plan my day before my house wakes up. It also gives me time to be alone with my coffee and my thoughts in the quiet morning.
It’s early and you may be thinking that there is no way your getting up anywhere near that time. Maybe 5:30am isn’t your favorite time. However, think about how much better you would feel by waking up earlier than your usual time and around the same time every day.
Your body can’t get use to a schedule if you sleep in late one day then get up early the next. It’s important to try and keep your wake up time within 15 minutes each day.
For example, if you got up today at 6:30am, then tomorrow make sure you are up between 6:15am or 6:45am. Doing this will help you feel more productive, less rushed during the morning, and be more structured.
Try it: For one week, try and wake up around the same time every day. You will discover that your sleep cycle craves routine.
2. I keep an activity calendar on the fridge
For years I have kept a blank calendar on my fridge and write down every day that I do something active for more than 15 minutes. Exercise and being active is an important form of self-care for me. Often I don’t feel like going for a walk or working out, but after I do, I have never regretted it. I’m always glad that I did something active. There are many benefits and payoffs for staying active, but for me this calendar serves as proof that I accomplished self-care for the day.
I find great pleasure in completing a task and checking it off my list. This is how I view my daily exercise and activity.
Some days I attend a yoga or Pilates class. Other days I only have time to go for a walk or stretch for 15 minutes. I am very good at creating an excuse of why I don’t have time. However, there is no excuse for me to not take 15 minutes to do something that makes me feel better. I’m responsible for my happiness and well being.
Try it: Create your own calendar and mark every day that you are active. You will feel better and see progress in your overall well being.
3. Talk or text with a family/friend every day
I make the effort to talk or text with a family or friend every day. It may only be a few lines or minutes but it helps me feel more connected. This connection to people I care about helps me not to feel alone and reminds me of the support I have from others.
I can easily get lost in my hectic day and become consumed with my to-do list. It’s important for me to step outside myself and connect with someone to stay grounded.
This serves as a reminder that I’m not just a taker from the ones I love, I also like to give love, support, and assurance.
Connecting with a family member or friend if only just a few minutes helps to remind me that I’m not alone in the world.
Try it: Start a new routine of either during your commute to/from work, while your preparing a meal, or during your lunch break, reach out to someone that you care about. You can say hello and have a great day or take time to catch up. Yes, even sending an emoji and a few words counts. Everyone has time to do this, so no more excuses.
4. Write something, anything.
I have an over active brain that never stops thinking. It is a blessing and a curse. It’s easy to get lost in a busy mind and distractions that keep me from being productive.
I take a lot of information in from different avenues on a daily basis. Since I’m responsible for taking care of myself and no one can do it for me, I use writing as a tool to help me filter through my thoughts.
I discovered the power of writing in the summer of 1994. I realized that dumping out everything I was thinking, dreaming, and dealing with made me feel better. This tool of writing out what was on my mind became a very useful tool that I use everyday.
These days I may only write a few sentences on a Post-it note about a thought that is running through my mind or I may write several pages while I’m eating lunch. It depends on my needs at the time.
Since it’s for my eyes only, I am able to be gentle on myself, and write without judgment.
Writing is an excellent tool to help filter through the thoughts of a busy mind. It also gives a place for your thoughts so you can be less distracted and more focused.
Try it: Keep a notebook beside your bed, in your car, or sheets of paper on your desk. When you have feelings that develop, come up, or overcome you, grab something to write with and, dump out everything that is on your mind. Don’t fear that someone may read it; you can always throw it away if you wish. Your other option is to type it out in your phone or on your computer. There are no rules, so don’t judge yourself.
5. Don’t leave any dirty dishes in the sink
I do not like having dishes in my kitchen sink. If I had time to prepare and enjoy my meal, then I have time to clean it up. Since the clean up portion isn’t as fun or satisfying, it’s easy to skip it. Dishes that are left in the sink seem to grow and expand by the day, then all that’s left is feeling overwhelm and dread.
I can’t have this type of clutter in my life. I like things simple, structured, and routine. I find a wonderful sense of completion when the final dish is washed and I can leave my kitchen like it was when I started.
Having a clean sink can help you feel that things you have control of are in order. Something as simple as this daily task can create a sense of accomplishment and productivity.
If your kitchen sink represents your life what would it say about you?
Try it: You don’t have to be a clean freak to make sure your sink is empty. For one week, try and make sure that your dishes are cleaned as soon after the meal as possible. Stand back and admire your work. This structure and order in your life will help you feel more productive.
6. Drink a ton of water every day
Everyone knows there are many benefits of drinking water. From healthier skin, to feeling more full, and many others positives that come from feeling hydrated. I remember being 11 years old at a friend’s house having lunch. As we put our food on the table, she poured herself a glass of water. I remember asking her what she was doing and why she wasn’t having sweet tea. She told me that she wanted water instead. As a child, I couldn’t believe that she would want something that had zero taste over sweet tea. Of course, I had to have a glass of water also, since she was having one.
That’s when my love of water started. Ever since then it has been my preference and first beverage choice. I always keep a bottle or tall glass of water with me at all times. It helps decrease snacking between meals because I feel more full when I’m hydrated. It also helps me feel better about my well being. I know that by consuming water I’m treating and respecting my body.
I can never use the excuse that I’m not hydrated because I’m fortunate enough to have access to water at all times. On an average, I consume about 15 8-ounce glasses of water per day. Some days, depending on my activity I consume more.
This is not difficult to do especially if you have the ability to have a glass in front of you all day.
You already know there are many benefits of water for the body and mind. For me, it fits perfectly into my structure, routine, and balance.
Try it: For one week, keep a glass or bottle with you at all times filled with water. When you drink all of it, fill it up again. Swap out your go to beverage for water. You will make more trips to the bathroom but that’s not a bad thing. You will be less hungry and feel better overall.
7. Express gratitude
Feeling and expressing gratitude is one of the easiest things to do that can help you feel more centered. I am grateful for my life, my support system, and my health.
I send out a prayer and gratitude everyday for all that I have. For me, this works throughout the day, whenever I’m present and aware of how I’m feeling. Other times, it’s at the close of my day before going to bed.
This helps to keep me grounded and less anxious.
I also tell my partner how grateful I am for him every day. I say it in different ways depending on the circumstance, but for me, it’s important that he knows this daily. I know how fortunate I am that he does the same for me.
Try it: For one week express what your grateful for every day. Whether it’s through prayer, random acts of kindness, telling someone how much they mean to you, meditation, or any other form, do it every day. If you’re a busy person, set an alarm on your phone or schedule it in your calendar so you don’t forget. You will feel more grounded and centered from this daily routine.
What do you do to stay sane?
Everyone uses different techniques to decrease stress and ease anxiety in order to stay in control of their life. What works for me may not work for you. However, if they don’t then you are tasked with finding what does work best for you.
Are there any ways to stay sane in life that I missed? Feel free to share any that you think would be helpful for others to know in the comment section below.
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Dr. Kristie specializes in sex therapy, relationships, and transgender identities.