6 joyful habit switches I made this summer
There’s a quote I heard early on in my career that has always stuck with me. It’s a popular quote, and one that you’ve probably come across at some point in your life too.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
I remember that when I first heard it, it kinda blew my mind. Because what that quote really says is that you don’t have to be naturally talented or a born genius in order to be excellent. In fact, so long as we’re willing to make a real commitment to the habits that lead to excellence, any of us can achieve it for ourselves.
I happen to think that the same is true for joy. While some of us are naturally more optimistic than others, I don’t believe that the most joyful people are simply born that way. I believe that the most joyful people end up that way because they commit wholeheartedly to the habits that invite more joy into their lives.
For that reason, I’m always on the lookout for my own joyful habit switches. And this summer, I really committed to making some changes that I knew would invite more of the joy I’m trying to cultivate into my life. I changed some things around, I added some new habits into my routine, and most importantly of all, I committed to them. I put them into practice each and every single day this summer, and as a result, I am feeling a heck of a lot more joy, peace and contentment.
Here are the 6 joyful habit switches I made this summer...
1) I exercised for my mental wellbeing
I have lost count of the number of times I’ve read or heard about the importance of exercising for mental wellbeing as well as physical health, but I think this summer was the first time I really noticed the link in my own life.
I committed to getting outside and moving at least 3 times a week, and within a month or so, I could notice the difference in my mental clarity. Exercise was making me feel more positive, more resilient, and better able to deal with the daily stresses of life. In fact, on the weeks when life took over and I didn’t manage to move as much, I noticed that I was more teary, more anxious and more likely to snap at small things.
I really want to stay committed to this habit as the season changes and the nights become shorter - it isn’t always easy to get my trainers on and get out there, but realising how important it is for my mental wellbeing is a brilliant motivator.
2) I left more time for me in my diary
I’ve written before about how I’m a people pleaser and an over planner, and as a result I find that I usually have very little time in my diary just for me. I absolutely love to be busy and socialise, but I find that the more full my diary is, the more chaotic my brain starts to become.
This summer, I committed to carving out chunks of time in my diary that were just for me. I lightened my workload, I only said yes to the commitments that felt really joyful to me, and I cut out any unnecessary tasks or chores that were cluttering my to do list.
That extra time gave me the space to be more spontaneous and present, to lean into whatever felt good in that moment, and to allow myself to properly recharge and relax. In short, I gave myself more time to experience the joy that already exists in my life.
3) I read a lot more books
I’ve waxed lyrical about my love reading many a time, but I stand by the fact that increasing the amount of time I spend with my nose in a book is one of the most joyful habit switches I’ve ever made! This summer I read 20+ books, which is four times the amount I read last summer, and I have really felt the benefits.
I think the reason why reading brings so much joy to my life is that when I’m engrossed in a good book, I am truly focused. I’m not scrolling Instagram or flicking through TV channels, I’m not worrying about my to do list or mentally checking off the chores I need to get round to. When I’m reading I’m committed to the words on the page and nothing else, and that works wonders for my brain.
If you feel like you need a bit of a mental declutter, or you’re looking for some habits that will help you reduce anxiety, give reading a go. Commit to 20 or 30 minutes a day and see how you feel at the end of the week. It’s a habit that has truly changed my life, and I’m pretty certain it can do the same for you too.
4) I brought back a daily affirmation practice
I’m a big fan of positive affirmations. I know that when I have a strong and committed affirmation practice I tend to be calmer, more productive and more successful in the pursuit of my goals. And yet, whenever life gets busy, they tend to be the first habit that falls out of my schedule.
This summer however, I committed to practicing my positive affirmations twice a day. Of course, I missed a day here or there, because life, but getting back into the swing of reading, writing and speaking my affirmations regularly has massively changed my mindset for the better.
It’s a habit that I’m determined to stay committed to for the long haul, because I know what a difference it can make. And if you’re interested in starting your own affirmation practice, this blog post will help you do exactly that.
5) I prioritised human connection
I am most definitely an extrovert - I know without a doubt that I get my energy from spending time with other people, and I thrive on human connection. And yet, my day to day life is actually pretty solitary. I work from home most of the week, I live in a different city to the majority of my family and friends, and I spend a lot of time interacting online rather than in person.
But this summer, I made a real effort to change that. I prioritised human connection each and every day. I met up with friends I haven’t seen for a while, I reach out to Insta pals to organise coffee dates, and I made sure that when I hung out with loved ones, I really soaked up that time with them, rather than checking my phone or worrying about my to do list.
Getting that good quality human connection has brought so much extra joy to my life. The older I get, the more I value the real life community I have around me, and I want to continue prioritising that in person contact over busy Whatsapp groups.
6) I drank a lot less booze
Summer is synonymous with boozing isn’t it? Adverts show people supping cold beer or Pimms at BBQs and parties, the beer gardens are packed to the rafters, and wedding season means that the sunny months can quickly feel like they’re sponsored by Prosecco. For many years, summer to me has meant more drinking, more hangovers, and more time spent feeling grotty (something which they never show in those glamorous TV adverts!).
This year was different though, because at the beginning of the season I read The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober, by Catherine Gray, and it’s no overstatement to say that the book massively changed my thoughts on drinking. While it didn’t make me want to go completely teetotal, it did make me think about how we view booze a society and how easy it is for a glass of wine to become a daily habit as opposed to a treat every now and then.
So whilst I still partook in sundowners this summer and toasted my best friend’s nuptials with my favourite champagne, I drank a lot less than I have in previous years. And drinking less added more to my life - more energy, more memories, more time for the things that are really important to me.
What do you think of these joyful habit switches? Have you made any changes to your own habits or routines recently?