Last Friday was an incredible day for me. School has kept me so busy lately, and I noticed that I wasn’t prioritizing my practice of self-care. My hobbies and interests were quickly pushed to the end of my to-do list as academics and commitments took up more time. With all of the exams and homework, as well as political tension political tension on social media, I was feeling kind of burnt out and drained. I knew I needed to take time to myself.
I chose to practice self-care by following an activity that I learned in my positive psychology class last semester. This activity is called “Savoring a Beautiful Day.” Savoring a beautiful day, simply defined, involves intentionally carving out a day, filling it with pleasant activities, and being mindful of your emotions in the process. The goal is to maximize your positive emotions by savoring the present. Although my interpretation and execution of this activity may be different than the original exercise, it was still a refreshing and lovely to do. I would love to take this time to write about my day and tell you how you too, can savor a beautiful day. (Note: for the purpose of this post, I will refer to this activity as “a beautiful day,” “your beautiful day,” “my beautiful day,” etc.)
1. Set aside a day for you to enjoy.
With the chaos of the semester, it seems like something is ALWAYS going on. As much as we wish a free day would just magically appear on its own, chances are, it won’t. We must intentionally set aside a day to completely enjoy without the distractions of school, work, or other commitments. Making proper accommodations will require effort, but it will be worth it in the end.
For me, my Fridays are pretty free. My 10am class is the only real commitment I have, so I had no trouble finding a time for my beautiful day. However, because my Fridays are so open, I typically use them to finish last minute D2L assignments and begin my homework for the next week. Sacrificing this time was a concern for me, so I worked extra hard to complete my homework earlier in the week. Whatever needed to be done for the following week could be done on Saturday or Sunday. My Friday was now free.
It may seem annoying to do extra work early on, but it will save you some stress. You won’t have the thought of “I should be doing this right now” haunting you during your day. Rather, you’ll have the satisfaction of being ahead of the game.
2. Plan your day ahead of time.
Now that you’ve found a day to savor, plan it! It doesn’t have to be anything too extravagant, but at least write down some of your favorite activities or enjoyable experiences that you want to include in your day.
Thursday night, I planned what I would do for the next day. I originally wrote an hour-by-hour schedule of my day, but I quickly scratched that idea, and tossed it in the garbage. My intent was to fully savor every moment of it and to be present in the moment. It seemed counter-intuitive to limit my enjoyment to narrow hour increments. Instead, I wrote a list of all of the things I would like to do at some point during my day. I would try to do as many of these things as possible, but if I decided to spend extra time enjoying a particular activity, then that would be okay. I wasn’t going to get caught up in what I did (or what I didn’t do). What mattered was how much enjoyment I experienced. Here is my list:
- Write in my meditation journal.
- Tidy/Organize my room.
- Have lunch on my own. Savor the food (as much as Debot food can be savored).
- Have some quiet time with God.
- Go for a walk in Schmeeckle.
- Journal / write whatever is on my heart.
- Write poetry.
- Read poetry.
- Do yoga or a guided meditation.
- Complete an online journal for my class.
- Skype my boyfriend.
- Blog about my day.
- Enjoy the moon and stars.
Chances are your prefect day looks quite different than mine, but for my fellow introverts, maybe these will provide you with some ideas. The idea here is to brainstorm your favorite activities. Maybe you want to go for a run. Maybe you want to make music. Maybe you want to go out for dinner with friends. Whatever you like to do, write it down on paper. Make sure it becomes a part of your day.
Turn your phone off. Avoid using other technology as much as possible. This isn’t a necessity to your beautiful day, but I strongly encourage you to do so. Your activities will be a lot more enjoyable without the distraction of technology. You’ll also be surprised by how much more free time you’ll have.
It’s really up to you with how you execute this. You may pick a certain time frame in the day to go without your phone. You may cut out all technology, or you may use your laptop only. You choose what works best for you. As for me, I turned my phone off at 5pm the evening before, shortly before planning my day. I didn’t use it again until 5pm the next day. There are a few reasons I did this. First of all, I wanted to go a full 24 hours without my phone… just for fun. With some online assignments due Friday night and some of my activities requiring technology, I could not avoid technology all day. Also, as sad as it was, I was afraid of going through phone withdrawals. I wanted to fully enjoy my Friday, and feeling lost without my phone would only be a distraction. An evening without my phone would be a great way to ease into my day (and also refresh my mind before going into the day). For various reasons, it seemed to work well for me.
Going without my phone wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be (luckily). I didn’t miss my phone at all. Actually, things felt a lot more free and energizing without my phone. The only issues that I had were that I felt like I would miss out on plans if my friends discussed them in the group chat. I also like to check my school email religiously, so I crossed my fingers that this wouldn’t be the time that something important came through. I also had to rely on my body to naturally wake me up the next day because I didn’t have my phone as an alarm clock. All of these things were minor. My addicted mind just liked reaching to the extremes. I suggest considering any issues that you may encounter by sacrificing your phone. Let your friends know that you’re unplugging for the day and that they should come find you if they need anything. It’s likely it won’t be an issue, but at least you’ll put your mind to ease, rather than thinking “what if I’m missing out on something?”
3. Actually live your day.
Okay finally, the best part! Live your day. Do the things on your list, and intentionally enjoy every moment of it. It’s pretty self-explanatory.
I started my day at 8am. My body naturally woke up earlier than expected, so I didn’t hesitate to get started. I got ready for the day and then had some Bible and prayer time before my class at 10am. I also wrote in my #anote2self meditation journal at this time. I went to class, and continued the last little bit of my study when I returned to my room. From there, I tidied up my desk area and did some other “housekeeping tasks” (cleaning is enjoyable for me, okay?).
By the time I finished, it was lunch time. I treated myself to the glorious experience of Upper Debot. I don’t mind eating by myself, but it did feel weird to just simply sit there quietly and eat. I usually have someone to talk to or my phone at least, but I was going without both this time. It allowed me to be more mindful of my eating though, so that felt really healthy.
After lunch, I took a quick, unplanned nap. This semester has taught me that to be a functioning student, naps are essential. I was tired from the week and Fridays are typically lazy days, so it only seemed natural. I woke up feeling refreshed for my outdoor adventures. I packed my backpack with several books, notebooks, and journals and began my lovely walk in Schmeeckle. I found a perfect place next to the lake, and I comfortably lied out against some rocks.
During my time outside, I reread “Love in my Language” by Alexandra Elle. I had read this book of poems a couple times before, but Alex’s words carry so much wisdom, emotion, and love. I never get tired of them. I enjoy seeing how her words impact me differently as I am in different places in my life. The book was bookmarked by post-it notes, indicating the pages that resonated with my heart when I last read it months ago. I think there is something so beautiful in poetry, seeing how I remove these post-it notes to bookmark a different page. Reading is one of the last things I think to do when I’m busy, so finally doing so was really refreshing to the mind.
I had originally planned to journal and write some of my own poetry while in Schmeeckle, but I simply stuck to reading. I left earlier than intended because it got chilly quickly, but that was no big deal. My time was just as pleasant as I had anticipated. When I returned, I worked on some miscellaneous things and just relaxed for a bit. I think this is when I busted out my laptop for the first time during the day so that I could finish my online assignments and sort some other things out. I got an early dinner somewhere in there.
5:00 came around more quickly than I had expected. I didn’t have much of a desire for my phone at that point (I really enjoyed my time without it), but I was happy to have it back. After a day of way too much introversion, it was time for some extroverted activities. I attended a women’s event with Cru, which was lovely. I dedicated the time before and after the event to one of my favorite things, Skyping my boyfriend. It always makes my heart happy to connect with him at the end of the week through videochat, to talk about anything and everything. I find it so easy to savor his company, so of course, I wanted to make that a big part of my day. I stayed up pretty late that night, talking with him until it was time for a well-needed sleep. All was perfect.
4. Reflect on your day.
You’ll feel a lot of positive emotions as your day carries on. Although you do not need to reflect on your day, it is a good icing to the cake. Reflect on your day so that your positive emotions last logner. What emotions did you feel? Did anything hinder your enjoyment? Is there a way to elevate these positive emotions in your life? Would you like to find more free time to continue certain activities? Take some time to really think about your activities and how they made you feel. Embrace the therapeutic nature of savoring a beautiful day.
My beautiful day was well… clearly beautiful. I wish I had found a better balance of extroversion and introversion. Doing so much reflection and reading was kind of draining in a way. I needed social interaction and I wish I had do that earlier in the day as well. It was okay though. I loved everything about my day. It was different than planned, but better. Nothing felt healthier than feeding the mind and soul with what it loves most. I was able to reconnect with myself as a person and pay better attention to my thoughts, feelings, and emotions. It brought be joy to unplug for the day. You don’t notice it as it happens, but technology can really weigh you down and hinder you from interacting with the world. I felt so much peace and freedom in not being tied to my phone. I had to trust my body to wake me up, and I enjoyed a day that wasn’t so time-focused. For a day, I was able to escape the time-obsessed culture that we live in. I hope that I can find more time to read and write, especially in regards to my relationship with Christ. Although it would be great to set aside another beautiful day here and there, I think one or two hours will be just as enjoyable for me.
I strongly encourage you to carve out a free space in your week to savor a beautiful day. Think about your favorite activities, write them into your day, and then do them. Be mindful of your thoughts and feelings during every moment, and embrace the positive emotions that will undoubtedly fill your day. Do these things without the burden and distraction of social media. Think about your day and what you can do to continue these positive experiences in your life. I wish you the best, and I would love to hear about your beautiful day.