Recently, I read a powerful book about friendship, determination, and creating joy, called The Wildwater Walking Club by Claire Cook. Rosie, Noreen, and Tess, three women living in the same neighborhood, happen to meet, and they bond through daily walks. As they walk, they talk, as they are all navigating difficult situations in their lives. Rosie’s mother recently died, and Rosie moved back to her hometown to take care of her dad. Noreen took a buyout from her job and her boyfriend broke up with her. Tess has a contentious relationship with her teenage daughter.
At one point, as Rosie and Noreen start discussing their parents’ lives, they seem to catch themselves.
“If we spent even a quarter of the time focusing on ourselves that we do worrying about everyone else’s lives…” Rosie said.
“Why do you think that is?” Noreen asked.
“I like to think it’s because I’m such a kind, loving, unselfish person.” She laughed. “But if I’m really honest with myself, I think I spend a lot of time hiding behind the never-ending needs of my family. It keeps me from having to think about what I want out of my own life.”
What a powerful moment in the book! How often do we focus on others simply because it’s easier than focusing on ourselves?
How to Create Joy in Your Life
Make Self-Care A Priority
Choose a variety of activities each month that fulfill you socially, spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Select activities that will help you face each day with energy, joy, and enthusiasm. In other words, these activities fill your cup and help you be the best version of yourself. I like to plan a lazy Saturday morning each month. I block off my calendar so I can sleep in, have pancakes, put a heated lavender eye mask on, and read or watch a movie. This recharges me so I can enjoy the rest of the weekend.
Self-care may mean something as simple as getting outside each day, or taking a yoga class. In fact, a study by researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine found that yoga was more effective than stress education in treating people with generalized anxiety disorder. More than 54 percent of people with anxiety noticed an improvement in symptoms after doing yoga two hours a week for three months, compared to 33 percent who received stress education. Whether it’s yoga, or jogging, or spending time friends, find an outlet that allows you to be yourself and release stress.
Make a Plan
Feeling stuck in your daily routine? Or feeling like you’re not living live to the fullest? If you have a plan, you’ll stay focused on your own aims and goals. One idea is to try making a “23 for 2023 List” of aims. This list idea was inspired by Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project. I made my list in late January, and my items ranged widely from taking a pottery class, to reading 50 books this year, to spending a couple weeks in Greece. I love crossing things off my list, and when I have some free time, I look at my list to see if there’s something I can conquer.
Stepmom life can be stressful, but your strength lies in how you handle that stress. Notice when your body is feeling tense. If you have a perceived threat, your body’s alarm system, or sympathetic nervous system is activated. When this happens, your heart rate goes up, your breathing quickens, and your muscles tense. It’s what we commonly refer to as the “Flight or Fight Response” to threats or danger.
In order to interrupt this threat response during every day triggers or stressors, use tactical breathing and body scanning techniques to relax your body and feel more comfortable. You can learn more about these techniques and how to use them here. If you’re able to physically relax your body, you won’t feel stressed.
These are three quick tips to create joy in your life. If you start practicing these on a regular basis, you’ll notice a difference! What do you do to create joy in your life? Share in the comments!
About the Author
Elizabeth Mosadis is a Certified Resilience Professional through the Trauma Institute International. She is also a Stepfamily Foundation Certified Coach and an author. Her books are available here.