It was in 2016, that I first quit my Corporate job. After a prolonged phase of Depression, all I wanted was to be genuinely happy again, to be able to smile, and find bring the excitement in life back. I did find all of those things but it was many months later, along my travels that I realised that it wasn’t happiness that I was seeking, it was Peace that I sought all along. Since then, peace of mind has been central to my decision making. From the smallest of things to larger decisions, I evaluate if it would elevate the Peace in life or hamper it.
I continue to make changes to my lifestyle to have a largely peaceful life. Unlike happiness, peace can be attained in the midst of chaos too. Here’s a list of some simple changes I have brought in my life over the last 6 years, for a peaceful day-to-day life.
A Healthy Morning
Wake up when my mind wakes up
One of the biggest luxuries I discovered when I started travelling full-time was rarely ever having to set an alarm. When I did set an alarm, it was often for a hike, I was super excited about.
I wanted to keep that going, the feeling of having a complete sleep cycle. So, no matter what project I take up, I ensure I have my mornings to myself.
Not having to wake up to the loud alarms, gives me a head-start to a peaceful day.
A 25-minute meditation (Zazen)
I have tried meditation multiple times in the past but it was only when I first went to Bodhi Zendo in 2021 and signed up for a three-day silent retreat, did I get a hang of meditation practice.
A 25 minute meditation comes easy now and helps me transition into a work-day quite smoothly.
All of us have a few hours where we are most productive, for some it’s the evening, for me, it’s the morning. Which is why I like to get things done that are most important to me first thing in the morning. This includes reading non-fiction. One of the reason I experience chaos is when I can’t do my own things for a prolonged period. Being able to have first two hours to myself completely helps me keep a peaceful mind.
Make time for Physical fitness in the form of practicing sport, going to the gym, or home exercises
‘A healthy mind resides in a healthy body’ is something we grew up hearing at school and it’s something I have come to value the most. The endorphins from a good workout helps me see life in a positive light.
As a digital nomad, it’s hard to stick to a workout routine, but I gravitate towards an active lifestyle anyway. In the last year, I have also picked up skipping rope. When I don’t have access to a gym and I’m not hiking, I just use a skipping rope for a 20 minute morning workout.
Something that we tend to overlook (at least I tend to) is a nutrition profiling. The first time I got it done, 2 years ago, I was appalled to see just how low my Vitamin D was. As someone who spends a fair amount of time outdoors, I didn’t anticipate such a result.
B12 deficiency (very common esp. among vegetarians) does worsen our neurological problems.
No Phone until I’m done with morning read
I remember the day, I had decided to stop looking at my phone first thing in the morning. I unlocked my phone, and there was a fake news shared by one of batchmates on a social media site. It instantly annoyed me and I decided that day, that my phone, esp. social media was not going to be the first thing I check as I wake up. It was too much a risk to a cheerful day. gradually I expanded my definition of limited phone usage to no phone usage until I was done with the three things I HAVE to get to each morning without the noise of external world – Meditate, Read, Breakfast.
It’s also because people generally don’t seem to care about others’ peace of mind and I don’t like to wake up someone else’s frustration in my WhatsApp or my Social media feed.
Turned off all notifications
This is definitely a luxury. I completely understand not all jobs allow for this to be practical. In my current project, I am not a ‘critical’ talent and my client has learned to not make WhatsApp the primary mode of communication with me.
This was a big game changer for me in improving my relationship with my phone. While I understand some people are disciplined enough to not check their phone on every notification, I was not. I was immediately distracted. It also created a false sense of ‘busyness’ in me because I was always responding or resolving something.
I do turn on notification for WhatsApp and Instagram messages if a conversation is time-sensitive.
Note: Even if I turn the notifications off, I can see an incoming call or an SMS. The notifications are off only for applications like Social Media, Booking apps, emails, etc.
Limited Time on Social Media
I was going through a long self-reflection exercise when I discovered how much my unhealthy social media habits were hurting me. I also noticed during that time my Social Media usage was over 4 hours. I was not only shocked by embarrassed. I looked up how to put a restriction on the usage and it was far simpler than I would have ever imagined. I put a daily timer of 30 minutes on Instagram (I started with 60 minutes and gradually brought it down to 30, I intend to make it 15 minutes this week), I also put the same restriction on Youtube. I’m currently debating deleting both of these applications.
Deleted unnecessary apps from my phone
Like many people, I had developed a muscle memory to click on some apps each time I unlocked my phone like facebook, instagram. So, I deleted the former because I have not posted anything on my personal profile in years, I didn’t enjoy the content on my feed and I can always just use the webpage to check the feed.
It was a game changer.
I forget to check Facebook for weeks at a time.
Self Care Saturdays
It’s something I started in early 2020 when I fell in love with my curly hair and decided to treat it that way. Washing it over the weekend because such an activity that I spent good part of the day just treating myself nice. I would oil my hair for long, scrub my lips, cut and file my nails, make myself ginger tea and often some burgers, take a long shower, use a special shower gel, moisturise with care, light an incense, read for hours.
The thing that it helps me with is the reminder that I love my self and I need to demonstrate it in actions just like we expect others to.
Clean the kitchen
I don’t always have the energy to do this, but I try as much as possible to leave my kitchen clean so I feel upbeat about using it in the morning. Now I don’t always have a kitchen either, in that case it could be simple thing like getting my things in order.
It’s essentially any little thing that would make my morning calmer.
I like reading in bed. I personally sleep far better when I fall asleep reading a book as opposed to watching a video. So, I get myself a book that’s not too hard to grasp for the evening. I still prefer memoirs but choose a book that’s easy on the mind.
I toss and turn a lot more when I try sleeping right after watching a video.
Put the Phone on Airplane Mode
Some things that are obvious to us may not be obvious to the other people. Like when I receive a call before 9 am, I often say out loud ‘who calls at …am’, thankfully, my phone being on airplane mode, I only see a notification of it when I turn it on.
But knowing myself, if I got a call when I was just waking up or still groggy, I would get annoyed by the slight insensitivity of it. So, to prevent that from happening and losing every single friend to my annoyance, I ensure it doesn’t get to me.
Do you have a secret sauce to a peaceful life? I would love to know.