You know how one person can change the energy of a room?
Like when you’re sulking in bed and your friend bursts in with a latte and a 2-year plan to get rich with a wine-and-cheese food truck. Well, that’s us. And we come bearing the secret sauce for feeling freakin’ awesome in 2022 — on your own terms, of course.
Let’s start with a simple perspective flip, and focus on what we have. Chances are, it’s a lot. And as your friends with health benefits, we have no choice but to share our “haves” with you.
Even as the pandemic goes on, some of our favorite acts of wellness are gaining momentum. We’re talking about a renewed love for cooking, getting more sleep, having time for hobbies, and making health and happiness more attainable for everyone — no exceptions.
And while some things are inherent to feeling good — eating nutritiously, staying active, sleeping, being mindful, and having a sense of community — that freakin’ awesome feeling comes in a variety pack. There’s a favorite flavor for everyone!
Each individual has a unique feel-good formula, so we thought we’d share our insider recipes.
Here’s what works for team Greatist.
I approach life with a lot of intensity. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it perfectly. And if I can’t do it perfectly, then I don’t really want to do it at all. Some people (*cough* my therapist *cough*) call this an “all or nothing” attitude. This attitude comes in handy in certain instances — like school and work. It’s a big reason I’ve been able to succeed at anything. But it’s also the reason I quit playing piano, gave up on voice lessons, and always hated cooking for people. What if I don’t do it perfectly?!
It was def not the healthiest way of thinking. As I’ve grown up, I’ve worked on accepting that perfectionism ≠ happiness. Instead of only pursuing productive activities that help me achieve “perfection” or become “the best,” I’ve learned that it’s OK to just fricken’ chill.
I’ve accepted that it’s no big deal if I cook chicken noodle soup for my family and it tastes like soap for some reason. My apartment doesn’t need to be so clean that it looks like nobody lives there. No one cares if I absolutely butcher a Christmas song on the piano. But best of all? I’ve learned that I can quite literally do *nothing* if I want to. It’s OK to hit pause on everything and let myself reboot.
For me, that became a tradition of lazy Sundays. And not just your average lazy — I mean so lazy that my Apple Watch probably thinks I’m being held hostage. It’s been a game-changer for my mental health. I have a designated day to look forward to where I know I don’t have to do anything else — no chores, no work, no working out — but rest.
It might sound obvious for some people, but I know some high-strung type-A peeps need to hear it: Your to-do list can wait. Take a day each week to achieve absolutely nothing.
Ah, I remember the halcyon days of 2019, where feeling good entailed sitting around with a few pals and bevvies, recounting old “Anchorman” quotes or whatever it is friends do when they’re in a room together.
However, as a musician, the last few years took on something of a different flavor — while I miss performing, I’ve been able to fill my days with music in different and exciting ways. And this is absolutely my route to feeling good.
In the absence of live shows, consuming music endlessly and aimlessly has been a massive release (without having to actually drop a massive release).
This has led to deep, deep dives into my music streaming service to discover new and old music, too — whole discographies every day.
My feel-good formula is simply that of soundtracking almost every waking moment and filling your day. Even if you’re sitting around doing nothing, your world still has a little bit of texture and color. And even when you’re not in the mood to listen to music, hum a little bit or drum on a desk.
There’s nothing like a new pair of shoes. Red boots, that is. And there’s no need to pull out your wallet. These red boots are part of a grounding meditation. Here’s the lowdown on my feel-good formula.
When I was a kid, a dear friend taught me how to put on my red boots:
- Head on over to a quiet spot and close your eyes.
- Take a deep breath into your diaphragm, and exhale.
- Breathe normally as you move through steps 4 to 8.
- Imagine that you’re wearing ruby-red boots. Red tends to represent connecting with the earth for this exercise.
- Personalize the visualization, too. If you want to imagine jewels, artwork, or anything else on your boots, then so be it.
- Next, visualize the roots that emerge from the soles of your boots.
- See the roots’ texture, color, how long and wide they are (limitless measurements).
- Try to feel the roots digging deep into the earth. Allow the sensation to fill you up, like a thirst-quenching glass of water.
- Take another deep breath into your diaphragm, and exhale.
- Open your eyes.
You can try this any time you need to feel empowered, relaxed, or centered. I’ll be racing through 2022 with my go-to pair of shoes.
There’s this great quote in “Under The Tuscan Sun” that I think about often. It’s attributed to the famous Italian director Federico Fellini (which I cannot confirm, so don’t quote me quoting this quote). But here goes: “You have to live spherically, in many directions. Never lose your childish enthusiasm, and things will come your way.”
And ain’t that the truth? When my days start to feel very adult, with my big girl job and big girl responsibilities, I sprinkle in a bit of childish enthusiasm and it never fails to make me feel whole.
Sometimes it’s as simple as running outside to laugh in the rain or taking a moment to marvel at something (anything!). Other times, it’s doing something illogical just because it feels right — like moving to New York alone with two suitcases, no job, a closet-sized sublet, and $1,000 in the bank (true story).
The moral here is that regardless of the rewards, which are usually pretty great, childish enthusiasm is an emotional exercise in opening ourselves up, surrendering control, and learning to believe again. It’s about stepping off the ledge and giggling as you free fall into the unknown. It’s about gratitude and freedom — but most of all, at least for me, it’s about hope. The deep-in-your-bones hope that the best is yet to come, and it’s right around the corner.
I never get enough sleep. I’m a night owl who gets a burst of energy around 11 p.m. every night without fail. My best work is done in the midnight hours. And while I know this is not the healthiest pattern, it’s how I’m wired. My body’s circadian rhythms are what they are. So, maybe it’s not surprising that my ultimate feel-good formula is a day when I can sleep in as long as I want.
I’m not ashamed to say I can easily snooze until noon. Zero guilt — IT FEELS AMAZING! I love waking up and not having to drag myself out of bed, not having to caffeinate myself into action, not having to rush or hustle (or even get dressed). Double feel-good points if the day is a Sunday, and triple points if it’s a rainy Sunday. I live in LA, so those days are incredibly rare, but when they happen, they’re pure magic. I feel peaceful, rejuvenated… happy.
Every few months, I announce to my three teenage kids and my husband that I’m “off the clock” all day. They know what that means: I’m staying in bed — as long as I want. My son delivers room service — coffee with a splash of half-and-half. My cats take up posts on either side of my bed. Pillows are fluffed. Comfy sheets swaddle me. I grab a good book from my bedside table (currently rereading The Poisonwood Bible, which never gets old), or fire up my laptop to binge watch something (don’t even start “Le Bureau” if you don’t want to be sucked in — it’s amazing!).
As simple as it sounds, a sleep-in day… a lazy lounging-in-bed day… it’s a feel-good formula that fills me up when I feel depleted and reminds my night owl alter-ego that sleep is, indeed, a powerful thing.
For me, mindfulness is going to be something I practice more intentionally in 2022. It’s something I’ve worked on a lot in past years and found very helpful, but with all the stress layered on since 2020, I’ve felt the need to rediscover mindfulness practices anew for where I’m at now.
And it’s not just one thing that increases mindfulness, but a blend of several things that bring me joy, help to center and ground my energy, and refocus my thoughts so that I can live from a place of the present moment more often than worrying about the past or future (thanks, anxiety).
I personally find journaling, daily tarot and oracle card practice, reading, walking in nature, and guided meditation to be very helpful. But also allowing myself time to explore fun creative projects with no pressure attached — whether that be blending a new perfume formula, jotting down notes for a new novel, making little terrariums from collected moss, or playing with polymer clay for an hour. When I allow the creative curiosity to flow, I’m in my most authentic state and feel expansive, nourished, and hopeful.
These are some of the things that reinforce my life with glimmers, which help me to create a sanctuary within, and forge my best path forward.
For me, feeling my best is all about staying active. During the pandemic, that has meant lots of outdoor and at-home workouts, since I haven’t felt comfortable going to the gym. I’ll be doing plenty of solo yoga practices and getting extra-comfy on my indoor cycling bike.
The other key ingredient in my feel-good formula is getting outside once a day. That can be tough in the winter, but with the help of a super warm coat, I hope to keep going for walks whenever possible to get a boost of serotonin and vitamin D.
Pandemic time has seemed to pass in a flash (wasn’t it 2020, like, yesterday?), and I know that soon enough spring will be here. The arrival of warmer weather and more daylight always brings me positive vibes. ☀️
I always thought of myself as a raging extrovert. In high school, I was involved in every club, hung out with friends every night, and never missed a dance. So, it took me a long time to figure out why filling up my spare time with outings and hang-outs was feeling more stressful than stress-relieving, even pre-quarantine. As I get older, I’m finding that my feel-good formula has changed.
Now, I make sure I schedule myself a few nights each week when I plan on not making any plans. Sometimes I use this time to work on a project I’m excited about, like crocheting a sweater or writing a book. Other times, I just want to get on my comfiest pj’s, cook some pasta, and watch romantic comedies (or 5 hours of Simpsons reruns).
I’ve always been a planner of organized chaos, juuuust teetering on the edge of control freak. I’m the person who buys a house, trains for a marathon, and gets married the same year. I thrive off being uncontrollably busy. Then 2020 threw a lot of my plans for the year in the trash and there was no way to be “in control.”
For the first time, I finally gave into uncertainty and learned to live without so many expectations and plans. I learned to slow down and stop worrying so much about what I expected from 2020 and just took what it gave me. Evaluating what I “should” do versus what I “wanted” also became easier. It also just made me a lot happier.
I started walking every day, soaked up more vitamin D at the lake, and actually sat down to read a book. I stopped being so uptight and just let myself be free of ultra-planned expectations. It was pretty liberating.
This lesson in giving up control is what I’m carrying with me into 2022. Life can be unpredictable and change is inevitable. And while I’m definitely still a planner, I’ve learned to just stop being so stringent on my expectations and truly go with the flow of life.
As an INFP on the Myers-Briggs chart, I often find myself living in the space between social exhaustion and creative outlet starvation. I don’t dislike being around people, but I love being creative and I love being at home. So, unlike my extrovert friends, many of the adjustments from living in a pandemic weren’t so jarring for me at first. That said, (while Zoom acting troops might sound interesting) I’ve had to be extra creative when finding ways to be creative with others.
I believe empathy is one of the keys to creativity, especially when it comes to acting. And I find that I feel good when I spend some time in someone else’s shoes. How do I do that at home? By reading aloud to my kid.
Reading a kids book to my son for 10 to 25 minutes every day has turned out to be one of the most cathartic habits of my week. Sure, for a while, I would just read a short picture book to him before he went to sleep while doing nothing much beyond showing him the pictures. But lately, these reading sessions have gotten closer to one-man stage productions. I’m talking full voice-acting with facial expressions and hand movements. I haven’t gone to costumes (yet) but the stories have gotten a lot more fun for me to read — and I enjoy seeing my son’s gleeful reactions. It’s become a great time of bonding and stress relief to just lose myself in the silly characters and get nostalgic about the bedtime stories of my childhood.
We’re in the middle of a chapter book right now and I’m challenging myself to make all the characters sound distinct. I’m having varying degrees of success on that, but this feel-good formula is definitely doing the trick.
My feel-good formula
“You’re at your best when you’re overscheduled,” my mom would say throughout my adolescence. At the time, as I struggled with ADHD and tween angst, my ballet recitals, theater rehearsals, tennis games, voice training, piano lessons, and job in a pizza joint lulled me into a blissful and confident rhythm.
On its face, this advice may seem pushy or insensitive. But I’ve grown to appreciate how true it’s been for me all along. In the last few years, I’ve cultivated a career while working multiple side hustles, getting my athletic training on, earning a master’s degree abroad, getting married, buying a house, and still having fun.
But my schedule’s been lighter than normal during another “year of the plague,” and unsurprisingly, I’ve felt well short of my best. Without me realizing, the sudden lack of structure has taken a toll on me. But moving into 2022, I’m determined that it won’t happen again.
I plan to stick to my pre-COVID lifestyle and ramp up the discipline with things that make me feel confident and challenged — playing music, teaching fitness, reading, learning French, and taking classes. I’m tired just thinking about it, but that makes me feel pretty freakin’ awesome.