Being an adult, life often gets in the way of enjoying things that we love. Between working full-time and doing all the things that a house needs to function while keeping relationships going strong, it can be an overwhelming amount of ‘stuff’ that takes up so many hours of the day. After being asked what my hobbies are and struggling a little to come up with anything other than watching Downton Abbey on Netflix, I knew I needed to rethink things.
I recently heard an interview where the person mentioned something so simple yet so striking: Take care of yourself first or you can’t take care of anyone else. That really got me thinking about where I find fulfillment and happiness. If I have it for myself, I can share that with others. However, in recent months, I had felt like I didn’t have much of it within myself, so sharing it outward was harder than it should have been.
I thought about the things that I did or interests I had years ago, before being an adult and paying bills had to be the all-consuming priority. Playing the violin, learning French, reading books, and practicing yoga were the main things that I thought of. Those interests spanned across years of my life; violin and French being things that were part of my life in school, reading being something I’ve enjoyed my whole life, and yoga being something that I’ve done on and off for the last few years. Each one brings me joy and also me to be creative.
I’ve committed to integrating each of them into my daily/weekly life. My lifestyle doesn’t have to get an overhaul to find a source of joy, I just needed to make a little room for what was missing. I’m taking even as little as 20-30 minutes 1-3 times per week to play my violin with no goal in mind other than enjoying it. I likely will never perform for others as that gave me more anxiety than anything else. But changing the endgame with that and saying it isn’t about getting ready for a concert or a competition, allowed for the joy to spark in again when I picked it up. Reading isn’t a competition either. So instead of worrying about how few books I read in a given year compared to others, I am reading to enjoy and putting down a book if I just can’t get into it. French or any language takes a lot to learn, but I’m using an app that allows me to practice words and phrases for 5 minutes a day. It is a great brain-break in the middle of a work day! Yoga is a need for my body that I am choosing to make time for on a consistent basis again. I feel a difference and know that my body and mind are happier with it, so there is no excuse worth losing that.
Shifting my mindset about how I viewed each of these and then allowing time in my day to integrate them without some huge life change has been paying me dividends in my mental health. I feel more confident, more together, and overall happier. Plus, I have outlets other than scrolling on social media playing the comparison game that we all fall into from time to time.