Sometimes it can seem like improving your life is an uphill battle, or like digging your way out of a hole in the sand – things seem to be working more against your favor than in your favor. You may be making a mountain out of a molehill.
There are actually a number of fairly small things that you can do to change your outlook, improve your health and make your life better. I only list 5 of them here; some of them take some commitment but try out a few of these and see if that uphill battle doesn’t get a little easier.
1. Join a Social Group
This could be a club, a sports team, or just a group of friends that go out for drinks once a month. The important thing is having friends.
Having friends improves our self-confidence, it gives us a network to help us deal with things like stress, or grief, and it even improves the immune system. All of these things also have secondary benefits. Probably because of the potential for lowering stress, people with strong and healthy social networks are more likely to maintain a healthy bodyweight and to live longer than those that don’t.
2. Find Faith
For quite a while now, many experts have understood that following a religious faith genuinely helps people in a number of ways. It gives us a sense of purpose. It makes us feel like we’re a part of something larger than ourselves. It encourages us to be understanding, forgiving and generous. It makes our lives better and it makes us better people.
While the religious can and probably will argue that their religion is the best, most religions have very similar basic philosophies. It sounds crazy, but think about it: Which religion says that we shouldn’t help the poor? Which religion says that we shouldn’t be kind and forgiving? The name of the deity may or may not change, but what that deity asks of us is more or less identical from one religion to the next. So, find one that you like and stick with it.
3. Learn A New Language
Learning a “Modern Language” like English, Spanish, French, German, or Chinese, can be practical in a business setting, or just while you’re walking around town. Learning any additional language, however, comes with a number of benefits, including helping you to learn and remember other things, and helping you to see things from new perspectives.
Some universities may let you audit classes on foreign languages, community centers may have classes in foreign language that are open to the public, you may be able to find books on learning new languages at book stores or thrift stores near you, or you could download any number of free or cheap apps to learn another language on your mobile phone, tablet, or computer.
4. Change Jobs
If you hate your job and/or your company you work for, you can read this as “quit your job and start over,” but you don’t have to. If you worked hard to get where you are and you like the work that you do, consider a lateral job change in your own company.
See if you can work in a new department for a bit, even if it’s just filling a position while someone is on vacation or while management is looking for someone to fill a spot permanently. Changing jobs provides a nice change of pace, it helps you to understand your own abilities and versatility, and it helps you to understand what the world looks like from someone else’s office.
5. Go to College
Even if you’ve already been there, or even if you can’t or don’t want to stay for a four-year degree. College is a unique experience where you get to meet new people in an institution specifically dedicated to learning and looking at new ideas.
Even if you’ve already been to college, many find that the experience is quite different when they return later in life, even if it’s just to audit a class.
Some of the things listed in this article are a pretty big commitment. Other things on the list, however, are things that you could do pretty quickly and with little or no financial burden. Give them a try, and hopefully you’ll notice yourself feeling better before too long.
An often-overlooked aspect of self-care is developing something that caters to your specific needs, which all begins with self-awareness. You could pick up a random self-care routine, and it might help a bit, but if you want to see the best results, you need to be constructing a plan to specifically address your own issues.
You can’t even start to plan that until you know what those problems are. By being more self-aware, you’ll be able to easily pinpoint the root of your problems and continue on to build a plan to address that.
The first and most important step is identification. This means taking an honest, hard look at your life and figuring out what it is that you’re not happy with. It could be anything.
You might not be confident in your figure, you might dislike your job, you might be struggling emotionally, and so on. Don’t be afraid to get a little bit critical with yourself during this time.
This is a time for honesty, not comfort. Once you know what the problem is, though, it’s time to dig a little bit deeper. The next step is analysis. At this point, you know what your problems are in your life, but that’s about it.
By looking closer at your problems, you should try to analyze what it is that’s causing these problems to appear in the first place. Take, for example, you not liking your job. That sounds simple enough on the surface, but by digging deeper, you’ll recognize that there are more varied reasons for this.
You might feel unfulfilled in your potential, or you might feel as though you’ve gone down a path you regret. Or it may be something simpler like the hours that you have to work or a bad coworker.
It’s these things that you want to start to know more about. Just knowing what the problem is in your life isn’t necessarily all that helpful. You want to know what’s causing the problem to exist in the first place so that you can treat it at the root level.
Much like a weed growing in your yard, you don’t just want to cut the visible part away - you want to uproot the whole thing so that it doesn’t come back. Knowing what your problems are (and what’s causing them) allows you to start down a path of rebuilding for a better life.
You can formulate a self-care plan specifically to help address these big issues and help better your life in the long run. Too many people use self-care as a Band-Aid, but you want a long-term solution, so make sure you engage in awareness and analysis before you initiate a plan for your self-care.
There are many reasons for why we procrastinate. It might be that you think you’re not prepared to do the task, or that you are not confident in your ability to do the job or you fear the project will not be successful. The fact is these might not be the reasons why at all.
Here is one of the main reasons you procrastinate:
When you set your goals for completing a task or project, you underestimate the power of your emotions now compared to how you will feel in the future.
We tend to delay things that are farther in the future because we don’t connect with the task. We don’t anticipate the future pain we will feel when we're having to stress and work through the night to finish that task.
However, if you visualize your future self and focus on the pain of having put things off, you will motivate yourself to start the task now.
Think of your project deadline in a different way.
For example, you have a project due in 2 months. Instead, think of it as less than 60 days because you’re not working weekends and you have two days each week filled with meetings. That means you’d only have 28 days to finish the project.
That puts a new perspective on the time frame.