11 Simple Hacks For Bringing More Joy To A Monotonous Week
If your whole life revolves around getting up, going to work, coming home, and repeating it all over again the next day — as it does for so many people — it may be time to interrupt that pattern by making an effort to create a more meaningful week.
Most of us live for the weekend, and view that as the time to really come alive and be happy. But what about ol' Monday through Friday? Putting your head down, and simply getting through those five days, is the very habit that makes the world feel like it's in fast forward. It's also what makes an entire month fly by without us even noticing.
But it doesn't have to be like that. If you decide to, you can enjoy a Tuesday. And you can value a Thursday, for more than its proximity to Friday. It's all about slowing down, being present, and creating special moments for yourself — so that every day can be a better one. "It's important to find more meaning each week because each week only comes around once in your lifetime," Tanya Carroll Richardson, author and professional intuitive, tells Bustle. "When you think of your days that way they feel more important and precious."
Of course, every day can't and won't be thrilling. But that's not the goal. The goal is to slow down, be present, and find more meaning in the little things. Here are a few simple but effective ways to do just that, according to experts.
1. Schedule Time To See Friends
While the weekend often feels like the best time to meet up with friends, consider switching things up and seeing them mid-week, both as something to look forward to and as a way to slow down and connect.
Your meet up can be as simple as getting a drink after work, or as elaborate as planning a Wednesday night potluck, where multiple people get together. The main goal is being sociable.
"Our social connections enrich our lives and give us meaning," clinical psychologist Dr. Helen Odessky, tells Bustle. "Seeing people you enjoy and sharing in both good times and bad creates shared meaning between you." And a more meaningful week.
2. Do Everyday Activities With Intention
To slow time down, and actually enjoy the week, it can help to be more present during everyday activities. "Pick an activity that you would normally do on autopilot — driving to work, making a smoothie, dressing yourself — and instead of going through the motions, pay attention to your senses," Laura F. Dabney, MD, tells Bustle. "What do you smell, hear, feel, taste? Experience every moment [...] Be sure not to overthink it, though. Just do and be. Allow any thoughts and feelings to come and go naturally."
You'll notice that, by being more aware throughout your day, everything will start to feel more meaningful.
3. Pick Up An Interesting Hobby
If you don't currently have a hobby, try to find one you enjoy — especially if it's the kind that allows you to really lose yourself for a few hours.
"Get into the flow with a creative outlet or activity that consumes your mental energy: playing an instrument, writing, playing a sport, etc.," Dr. Melissa Healy, a board-certified health and wellness coach, tells Bustle.
Dr. Healy explains "flow" as the feeling of being singularly focused on an activity that is imaginative, impulsive, and fun — where you're completely present. Many people say "flow" is where it's at if you want to feel happier, so there's that positive, too.
4. Create Reminders To Wake Up
If you struggle with being in the moment, it can help to decide on a few "cues" that will remind you to wake up throughout the week.
"Leave yourself [sticky notes] on the mirror. Or choose a scenario that you’re sure to face throughout your day, like sitting at a red light, turning on the faucet, or hearing a bird sing," Dr. Dabney says. "These are your cues to stop, breathe, and feel your bodily sensations. The idea is to prompt yourself to be mindful throughout the day; the moments of practice add up."
5. Jot Down Your Thoughts
Journaling comes highly recommended by pretty much every therapist out there. And for good reason. "Getting to know yourself through journaling connects you deeply to your needs and desires and gives you an opportunity to create more meaning in your life," Dr. Odessky says.
You don't have to spend a lot of time doing it, or even be an excellent writer in order to benefit. Simply jotting down highs and lows, or a few things you're grateful for, will help tune you into yourself.
6. Slow Down With A Cup Of Tea
If you're in the habit of racing through your week, it may be beneficial to slow down and partake in slow rituals, such as making a cup of tea.
"Tea is a great thing to add to your routine when you want to feel more centered, and also more energetic and alert," Jaya Jaya Myra, author and natural lifestyle expert, tells Bustle. "Teas [like green tea] contain theanine and other ingredients, which help you calm down and feel more centered, while also giving you a burst of calm energy."
7. Try To Unplug
While it's obviously OK to participate in social media, text friends, and read the news, it never hurts to set a few limits when it comes to all things technology.
"We can spend hours scrolling through our phones, liking pictures, watching videos, and commenting on posts," Arron Muller, LMSW, tells Bustle. "Set a cut off time to stop all social media contact before bedtime. Take that time to reflect on your day, talk to loved ones, or prepare for work or school the next day."
8. Give Yoga And/Or Meditation A Try
Much like journaling, yoga and mediation are two things we hear a lot about, but often struggle to make time for. And yet, they're both so darn beneficial, it may be worth it to give 'em another try.
"Yoga teaches deep breathing techniques and helps you hone the ability to endure pain — things you can use to boost your mindfulness later," Dr. Dabney says. A yoga class can also create a nice moment of peace in the middle of your week, right when you need it most.
As for meditation, that's even easier since you can literally do it anywhere. "You were going to be sitting on the plane anyway. Or waiting in the doctor’s lobby. Or taking a quick work break. Why not spend that time meditating? All it takes is 10 minutes [a] day to benefit," Dr. Dabney says.
9. Plan Out The Week
If your weeks have felt chaotic lately, it may help to sit down and plan them out ahead of time. (Bonus points if you make a little Sunday ritual out of it.)
"Planning our week with intention allows us to be less stressed, [because] we know what we have to do," certified coach Maeve O'Byrne, MA, CEC, PCC, tells Bustle. "Even when something else is thrown into the mix we are better able to handle it. We can be more present in our actions as we don't have to try and remember what's next — it's planned."
You can obviously switch things up as the week goes on. But if you want a better shot at enjoying each day — instead of worrying your way through them — planning ahead can help.
10. Set A Few Intentions
What do you want to do this week? How do you want to feel? "Setting an intention can be really simple, like identifying one thing you hope to accomplish or work on that week — saving money, or being kinder to yourself, for example," Richardson says. "You could meditate on an intention for the upcoming week every Sunday afternoon or see what pops into your head while eating breakfast Monday morning. Touch in with your intention a few times throughout the week in your thoughts for best results. Intentions help you focus your energy and become a more powerful co-creator of your life."
11. Create Space To Do Nothing
Sometimes, having a more meaningful week isn't about what you do as much as it's about what you don't do. "Creating some free space in your days gives you time to reflect and observe your life," Richardson says. "It also gives you time to savor your life and allows room for you to be spontaneous and do things that bring you pleasure."
The definition of a meaningful week will be different for everyone. But the basic concept can be the same. Instead of rushing through and willing the week to pass, you can find ways to slow down and appreciate each day, and the little moments in between.