When someone visits a psychiatrist for the first time, it’s usually at an inflection point. Something big has happened, is happening or is about to happen. Helping patients navigate their way through this transition is the goal.
Over the years I have learned an important lesson—in addition to discussing the “big issue” that brings a patient in the door, it is equally important to focus on the everyday. Talking about how the person spends their time and conducts their daily life is essential. Understanding their habits and rituals not only helps me understand who they are, it also enables me to recommend small changes that may help them feel just a little bit better. Oftentimes, a minor tweak in their day-to-day routine can help them feel stronger even within their stress.
As writer Annie Dillard said,
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
Dillard’s words ring true for all of us. The actions we perform on an everyday basis determine who we are in the long run.
Here are seven ways to make the most of your everyday:
1. Learn something new
Every single day, look for an opportunity to expand your knowledge. Listen to a podcast, read an interesting article, learn something from a friend. Remember, everyone you meet knows something you don’t.
2. Make someone’s day
Do something, anything, for someone else. This is an immediate mood booster. Going out of your way to be kind to others also helps you feel more in control.
3. Use your strengths
You excel when you get to do what you do best. According to research, employees who use their strengths outperform those who don’t and feel more fulfilled.
4. Fortify yourself
Actively decide to eat well, move more and sleep better. Every bite of food, every extra step and every extra hour of rest has a significant impact. Your everyday decisions affect the quality of your health and life.
5. Think forward
What are your long-term goals? Do at least one thing that brings you a step—even a baby step—closer each day.
6. Do something meaningful
No matter how small, do something that somehow improves the world. It may be as simple as picking up a piece of garbage on the street.
7. Take a moment
Spend, at minimum, 30 seconds reflecting on what you have accomplished and appreciating what you have. Expressing thanks is one of the simplest ways to feel better.
By purposefully following these seven steps, your full day can also be fulfilling.