Just breathe

Until recently I never understood what people meant when they told me to “take a deep breath.”

In a world that glorifies “busy,” it can be difficult to differentiate between productivity and hustling. As a naturally anxious person who often feels I need to get everything done RIGHT NOW, sometimes I find myself chasing my tail and not getting anything accomplished whatsoever.

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Slow down. Just breathe.

I am finally learning the value in this- one step at a time. Over the past few months I’ve began to develop new habits that have made a world of difference in my anxiety level, productivity, which ultimately have helped me reach my goals without chaos.

Set a morning routine

I begin each morning with a reading to start the day off on the right foot. Although I love my caffeine, I never head to the kitchen for coffee before making my bed; something about an organized living space always sets a positive tone for the day. Whether it’s prayer, meditation, a reading or exercise regimine, morning routines are wonderful for the mind, body and soul. I love an app called Calm, which has free guided meditations to center yourself. You can also check out their Mindfulness Tips for when you’re on the go or don’t have the time or privacy to meditate.

Choose your outfit the night before

It makes my life so much easier when I plan ahead. Although I typically wear black every day in one form or another, I like to hang up 4-5 outfits in my closet to wear over the course of the week. Since my mood changes and weather can be unpredictable, it’s good to have a few options for wardrobe combinations each morning.

Enjoy the simple things

I’ve been fortunate to live in beautiful places; whether waking up at my mom’s house in Traverse City and taking a morning stroll to the bay, enjoying the NYC skyline while going into the city from Queens or walking through the brick-lined streets of Boston, I try and take in every moment. Photography is another passion of mine, so I always snap a few photos while I wander. My favorite app is Camera+, which has an amazing “clarity” feature that brightens any photo.

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Make lists

I don’t know what I’d do without my planner. Despite the plethora of apps and online tools to stay organized, I still write everything down. I remember everything better this way and cross everything out, one task at a time. There’s something gratifying about seeing your progress on paper. This method helped me immensely when planning my move to Boston, so I suggest giving it a try for both long and short term projects.

Stay active

I haven’t driven a car in over two and a half years. A lot of people seem shocked by this! I used to drive everywhere, even when going down the street for quick errand. New York City quickly got me out of this habit, so now I enjoy walking wherever I go (usually at least 5 miles a day, but usually more!). Not only is it healthy, but it helps me get to know areas better, slow down, and enjoy the beauty around me. Although I am not a gym person, I love outdoor activities, yoga, workout clases and solo sports. Find what you love, too!

Listen more

I never realized how much my anxiety is triggered when I talk too much. Listening is not only a kind thing to do that also helps in validating others, but it’s theraputic for you, too. I can easily get overwhelmed with explaining myself (makes sense as a writer- putting words down is my comfortable place) or justifying things I say, so I’ve been doing my best to talk less and listen more. You’ll be surprised how good it makes you feel.

Do an inventory of your day

Every night I review my day; what I accomplished, where I could have improved and what I am setting out to do the next day. Was I kind? Did I act out? Did I handle work situations mindfully? It’s important to take it easy and not get down on yourself when you see room for improvement. Tomorrow is a new day!

Just remember… breathe. You’ve got this.

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