By Harriet Lowbridge | Head of Advice
When asked to think about our perfect day, most of us will have a clear picture of what that entails. Relaxing on a warm tropical beach. Shopping in the midst of the sale season. Hiking along a forest river. Playing board games with a big group of friends. Drinking a perfectly crafted cup of coffee. Reading a book with heavy rain pattering on a window. Falling asleep under the stars. I could wax poetically about all the ideal ways that I could spend a day. Unfortunately, we cannot enjoy these perfect days every day. Life inevitably will always get in the way. Sooner than many of us hope, we are back to the daily grind with work or studying to do. This is where finding enjoyment in the small things makes a difference.
The issue with these perfect days is that we end up spending most of our time waiting for them to arrive. We miss out on the little things in life that commonly pass us by. Unfortunately, this means we inevitably end up focussing on the negative aspects or what our lives are lacking. It becomes much harder to see the positive when we are constantly comparing our lives to these perfect ideals that we have come to expect. Our social media does not always do much to help this. With a constant stream of perfectly curated images of celebrity lives and the pressures of everyday life, it is easy to see how this negatively affects our mental health.
The events of the last few years especially have demonstrated that a positive outlook is essential to our wellbeing. As well as proving that we should be working towards a positive mental health as often as we can. We need to be celebrating every small thing and little victory that we can find in our daily lives, even if they come in smaller packages.
It is these small victories and pleasures that can really make or break your day. The little victories are also the things that we can find in our everyday lives. The perfect days and grand events only happen sporadically and we can be left feeling a bit empty once they have passed. Without sounding too cliché, it really is important to enjoy all of the small things that you can.
These small things can be anything in your daily life. There is no set list of daily aspects that you should enjoy. I only recommend that you take the time to find small things to enjoy in the moment. Take a second to reflect on what makes them that bit special to you. There are two different sets of important aspects that I will outline today. The first will be some examples of which positive small things you can find in your lives already. The second aspects that I will discuss are the changes that you can make to create more of these small moments to appreciate.
What kinds of things, therefore, should you look out for?
Take a moment to enjoy the natural spaces you find yourself in during your daily life. You might only get to find the time to explore nature during your commute to work or school. Therefore, it becomes even more important to take a moment to appreciate the natural world around you. It could even be the time you spend working outside.
Take the time to enjoy your food a little more slowly than usual. Savour the different flavours in each meal and snack.
Forget about the concept of guilty pleasures. There is no governing body on what content you should and should not enjoy. Just enjoy the pleasures that you can find when you need them. If a barbie movie and popcorn night sounds like a perfect night in for you then allow yourself that treat. Why feel guilty about it when it is something that brings you joy. Even if it is watching so called ‘trash’ television.
Enjoy the sensations of everyday life. Cuddling on the sofa. Wearing your favourite comfy clothes. Wrapping up in your favourite blanket. Curl up with your favourite plush toy or person. Allow yourself a few moments to just enjoy the sensations on your skin.
Enjoy your time with friends and family. Our friends and family might not be always be in our lives. Take the time to appreciate the time you get to spend with them. Even if that is just to keep their picture somewhere you see daily. Make sure they know that you appreciate them as well. A few kind words will make all the difference.
Mostly you should just find time to figure out what makes you happy and ensure you fill your day with them.
What happens then when you cannot figure out what small things in your life make you happy? What changes can you make?
Find more time in the mornings. Give yourself an extra half hour if you can. This allows you to start the day gently, rather than in a mad panic. You get time to enjoy more activities that you enjoy. Whether that is enjoying your hobbies or taking your time getting ready.
Engage more with nature. Try to find at least five minutes a day just to go walk in nature. You can even try your hand at gardening. It has become a common belief that spending just a small amount of you day in nature can have a positive influence on your mental health. It also gives you some time just to breath, reflect and bask in the fresh air.
Eat fresh food and make the time for home cooked meals. Cooking can be a very relaxing time once you have the fundamentals under your belt. It can also be a great part of your day to cook your meals with a friend or a partner. It is I am also not saying you have to eat home cooked meals every day of the week, especially if you are studying at university.
Buy the childhood things you always wanted. This one may sound silly but I have found endless daily joy from watching my new lava lamp. I feel like a queen strutting about the house while I do my chores in tiaras and crowns. Your inner child will find endless entertainment with this one.
Don’t always feel like you have to be composed. Dance about the house while singing your heart out. Walk silly down the road. Leave your makeup off once in a while, or maybe try a new fun way of styling it. Buy those bright pink and purple trousers, who is going to remember them in twenty years?
Explore your local surroundings. Take an afternoon off to find all the nooks and crannies of your local surroundings. You never know what fantastic street art or beautiful plants you might find a couple of streets away.
Spend your time, not your money. Going out for the day does not have to be expensive. Spend a day at the beach with your friends. Sit by the river while you eat your lunch. Find a local park to spend time in. Just have a night in with a movie and your friends. You can even be economical. Go to the pub for a soft drink. Meet up with your mom for a coffee. You will likely find more enjoyment and make more lasting memories with these occasions than if you spend all of your money at the club or shopping all day.
Be a bit impulsive. If you find yourself feeling down about yourself, find something new to try. Even if that is just a new drink at the pub or café. If you see a fancy outfit and it is within your budget, or even if it is not, then treat yourself once in a while.
Your life can be full of all sorts of bright and enjoyable moments. It just takes a moment to sit back and appreciate them when you can.
If you require alternative help for improving your mental wellbeing there are many resources for you to utilise. Here is one resource to get you started: