Health · Life

Little ways to find joy when you have no time for it

I’m a creature of habit. I think? I can’t quite decide if I thrive on structure or chaos. Sometimes I try to obsessively plan out my day for optimum productivity and happiness, or obsess about time and minutes because I have so little of it. But I also find that once I fall into a strict routine I quickly realize that I can’t control every second of the day. There are many variables, different people and their schedules, and surprisingly I don’t live in a bubble of complete autonomy. Things tend to slip by and slip away, pretty quickly. And before you know it your life is dull and monotonous and devoid of joy. This happened to me recently when I had a week of working full time with no days off or fun. On Friday I was so angry and stressed I started crying in the kitchen and called in sick from work. Then I spend a lovely evening with my family that got me nicely recharged. They sat me down and told me I need to take some time off for self care. It was a harsh awakening, that I absolutely have to take care of myself. It’s so important, especially for the busy people like me. It can all go from right to wrong so quickly if we don’t make time for ourselves and the things we love. I’m slowly figuring out how to tuck these things into a busy lifestyle.

1. Mornings

My first job starts at 12, so mornings are for me. This can apply to anyone, even if you work at 9am. If you go to bed earlier and wake up earlier you have a bit less of lazy Netflix time in bed and a more productive and satisfying morning. It used to be for me that my boyfriend and I would sleep in and then groggily eat breakfast and he would drop me off at my house before work and I would frantically get ready and try to get a workout in. Now we wake up earlier, sometimes do our separate things  or he’ll leave me to have a morning to myself. These morning to myself have been luxurious, I get to run or read or sing, but most importantly recharge and bask in solitude.

2. Make a standing appointment with the beach

That is, if you have to access to one. But if you’re not lucky enough to spend summer in Maine, there are other places you can lie about in a bikini and bask in sun and relaxation. On Sundays I don’t work until 2pm, which is basically a day off, so I always visit a body of water and lie about, maybe if I’m feeling adventurous I swim in the freezing water. But the point of that is to have a time set aside for fun and relaxation, especially when you’re stuck working instead of enjoying summer. And summer is a huge deal for Mainers. So find a park, hammock or even driveway and just set out a towel and relax.

3. Make travel time productive

I spend about 30 minutes a day just walking to work and back. Usually I just zone out and listen to music, but I recently started using some of that time to listen to the podcasts piling up in my queue. That way I’m stimulated during my commute and whittle away at the guiltily forgotten episodes. This also applies for car, bus or train commutes. Listening to podcasts or audiobooks, reading, writing, doing work or practicing a language are all great ways to make a boring commute faster and more productive. I can foresee this on long train rides between Sitges and Barcelona.

4. Make time for the things you love

The other day I sat down at the piano and sang, which I haven’t done in a while (which is kinda ludicrous considering I’m majoring in musical theater). And after singing I felt so energized and happy, I felt like myself again. I remembered my purpose in life and what all of this labor is for – and I was astounded that I haven’t been singing more lately. But that’s what happens, things slip away. And we can’t forget about those things we love to do, that make us happy. They are so important and essential to joy and self care.

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