Ever seen the film Amelie? If not, you should go and watch it because it’s a lovely uplifting story. At the beginning of the film, Amelie, the main character tells us about all the simple things in life she loves. As I watched, I always thought to myself…what are the things I love?
Before I tell you what they are, I want to explain why I think simple pleasures are a great way to bring stress relief, relaxation and calmness to your life.
Imagine your typical day. Maybe you’re tired, you have to get up for work, you get stuck in traffic, you have children to look after, you have lots of work to catch up on, you’re sitting behind a computer all day, or you’re standing, walking around, you have housework to do, shopping to fetch, meals to cook, and people to see. You need to shower, get dressed, brush your teeth. There’s tons of stuff to think about: bills to pay, events to plan, e-mails to send, text messages to reply to, the car’s MOT is due soon, and isn’t it so an so’s birthday? Better remember to get a card...
You’re cramming all of these things into your day and the ones that won’t fit are busy whizzing round in your brain. And there’s no time to just STOP.
We’re all living busy lives, and not always, but sometimes, there are days when you really just need to put the brakes on for a minute. This is where simple pleasures come in. Something simple, that brings you joy. Something you can focus your whole and complete attention on, even if it’s just for a minute. I find that taking that moment to really concentrate on something you enjoy, brings back a little perspective. When you’re having those moments where everything is getting on top of you, simple pleasures remind you of the good things in life, things that cost nothing, take no time at all, and bring your focus to something positive.
Walking barefoot on grass
I LOVE this. Release your feet, let them feel the air and allow them to rest on soft grass. Walk slowly. Think about how the grass feels on each part of your foot. The heel, the bridge of the foot, the ball of the foot and each toe. Feel the muscles working as you take each step. How the pressure shifts on each part of your foot, ankle, leg and hip with each step. Feel your connection with the ground. Think about how the earth is supporting you. Stand still and wiggle your toes. Take a few deep breathes and just enjoy having nothing more to think about for a few minutes other than the feel of the grass on your feet.
Drink a cup of tea
You may have noticed that I love drinking cups of tea! It’s true, I’m a tea fanatic. But have you ever really savoured a cup of tea? Make yourself a drink… (I love tea but any drink will work!)Think about what you’re doing. Prepare each step with care. Think about which cup you’re going to use. Revel in the routine of preparing it. Take your time brewing, stirring mixing, until your tea is just how you like it. Now sit somewhere comfortable, and feel the warmth of the cup and how holding that warmth makes you feel. Allow that warmth to spread to your heart. Sip your drink slowly. Enjoy the flavour, the temperature, the texture and smell. Don’t let your mind wander…right now it’s all about you and your tea! I love to do this with peppermint and licorice tea because just as you’re enjoying the calming peppermint, the licorice sneaks up as this delicious sweet aftertaste. It’s lovely!
Sleep in clean sheets
Next time you change your sheets, take a few moments when you first get in bed. Feel how clean and crisp they are. Notice how the fabric feels on your skin. Enjoy the smell of fresh washing. Breathe in deep breaths and notice how each part of your body feels. Let tired muscles feel comforted and supported by the bed beneath you. Let your soft pillow cushion and soothe your mind. Imagine any tension or worry drifting away before you go to sleep.
Embrace the weather
We spend so much time complaining about the weather – too hot, too cold, too rainy. At the end of the day, there’s nothing you can do to change the weather – so why not embrace it?! I remember any time there was a thunder storm when I was younger, I would run outside barefoot and dance in the rain! Mum was always waiting at the door for me with a towel and a cup of hot chocolate when I came back in, cold and soggy but feeling alive! As we grow up it seems like we treat the weather as an inconvenience to our lives.
But not today! Step outside and close your eyes…If it’s warm, feel how that warmth soothes your skin, let the sunlight create patterns on your eyelids. If it’s cold – feel the freshness and alertness it brings to you. Let wind refresh and awaken you. Allow raindrops to pitter-patter on your head, or if it’s a downpour, let it come! Get wet! Embrace the wonder that is water falling from the sky and let it wash away any worries.
Listen to your favourite sounds
Whether it’s tweeting birds, the sound of ocean waves, laughter or even your favourite song, listen to something you love. I love the sound of a thunderstorm, and the sound of falling rain. When I’m feeling stressed out, it’s one thing that’s guaranteed to help calm me down. When I’m already in a good mood, I love to listen to my favourite songs. They fill my mind with happy memories and lift my spirits even higher. Whatever you like to listen to, make time for it. If you can’t get outside to listen to nature, try listening on headphones on the bus to work, in the car whilst driving, or at home. Turn it up, close your eyes and fully immerse yourself in the sound. If its nature sounds you’re listening to, create your own beautiful natural landscape in your imagination. If it’s a song, sing along, dance, let the sounds move your body without thinking. See what shapes the sounds create.
Here’s a great website you can use to listen to lots of different nature sounds, from ocean waves, to purring cats and more. You can even make mixes of your own favourite sounds and download them to keep.