01. Movement for joy
Exercise should never, ever be viewed as a punishment. It’s not a means of working off extra calories. Exercise should be enjoyable and if it’s not, I hope you will reconsider the types of movement that are appealing to YOU. If running is not something you enjoy, then stop running. There are many other ways to build physical activity into your days that don’t involve forcing yourself to do something you dread.
When we exercise for our own wellbeing, it becomes something we enjoy. Look at it as time spent strengthening your body, and know that building a consistent exercise regimen takes time and intention. If you’re trying to achieve the ‘quick fix’ by exercising excessively, you are doing your mental and physical self a disservice.
02. Food freedom
We, as Americans, are obsessed with food. Every single day, we’re tasked with navigating the world of diet fads and companies pushing products that promise to improve our health.
We’re constantly told both indirectly and directly that we have to change our bodies to feel better. To every person reading this blog post, I’m here to tell you: you are perfect exactly as you are and you are enough. If you decide that you’d like to make changes to your lifestyle, do it for YOU. To feel more energized. To fill your body with the nutrients that are going to help you become your best self.
When we let go of dieting and restricting, we open ourselves up to joy and food freedom. We create an opportunity to make peace with food – to look forward to our meals – and to feel good about what we’re putting into our bodies.
In the month of February, I talked a lot about the meaning and importance of self-love and self-compassion. If you didn’t participate in the 14 Days of Self-Love Challenge, check out this page for details on how you can start it…today!
Learning to love ourselves – and forgive ourselves when our reality doesn’t live up to our expectations – is one of the fundamental components of living a life, elevated. We must learn to love ourselves before we can truly love others. Be kind to yourself and remember during times of perceived inadequacy that we are all human and all face the same struggles.
04. Meaningful relationships
Every person that we let into our lives should build us up, support us, and make us feel loved and appreciated. This includes friendships, significant others, and family members. Honoring our own self-worth allows us to recognize when we’re being treated poorly or not benefiting from the another person’s energy. As difficult as it is to cut people out of our lives – the people who bring us down, make us question our own self-worth, and who take more than they give are not deserving of our valuable time and energy.
While strong friendships can withstand periods of one-sided effort, it’s important to be intentional with reaching out to friends to ask about their life and make space for reconnecting. There’s nothing better than receiving random snail-mail or an unexpected text to brighten our day and remind us that someone we care about is thinking about us.
The influx of technology and the pressure that we place on ourselves to be productive are two barriers to getting an adequate amount of sleep. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to prioritize sleep. It affects our mood, hunger, productivity, emotions, recollect, and more.
06. Cultivating passion
Our time on this earth is far too limited to not devote time to pursuing our passions. Your passion can be anything that sets your soul on fire. Dive into your passion, soak in all the knowledge you can, and live each day immersed in what you love. When we exude passion, we attract the type of people who continue to inspire us to be better, to reach higher than the limits we set for ourselves, and to create meaning from endless possibilities that this life offers.
07. Riding the wave
Expect the unexpected, and know that nothing is ever guaranteed. It’s important to not take opportunities and relationships for granted. Part of riding the wave is knowing, and expecting, and we will fail. Our hearts will be broken, we’ll lose out on our dream job, we’ll get rejected from our top graduate school program ;),but in the end we’re not losing at all. In fact, we’re growing into strong, more resilient, and smarter individuals who are better prepared to appreciate and recognize the good – the magnificent – when it comes into our lives. Every missed opportunity is an open door to a new, better reality. We just need the gumption to navigate towards it.
Open yourself up to experiences outside of your comfort zone. Never, ever stop striving to learn and grow. Travel, hike, start a blog, go back to school at age 40, learn karate, play an instrument, quit the job you hate, leave the relationship you know isn’t serving you, and explore the amazing things that this world has to offer. Once you stop exploring, you lose out on the opportunity to better yourself and to share your gifts with the world.
09. Radiate compassion
The whole world benefits from more kind and empathetic souls. Strive to be the person that helps another feel uplifted by humanity. Be more patient, give more compliments, see the world from someone else’s perspective, and always give people the benefit of the doubt. Be a role model to those around you and a catalyst of the ‘pay it forward’ movement.
10. Managing stress
Accept that many aspects of our lives are completely out of our control. Worry about the most important things, and let the others slide. We live in a society that embodies stress, and it is detrimental to our health. We often feel that we have to be ‘productive’ all the time, but that doesn’t leave space or room for relaxation and self-care. Learn to prioritize your own needs. Don’t overcommit. Learn to say no. And remember that no day is ever guaranteed.