I’m scared of spending my weeks waiting for the weekend. I’m scared of spending my life waiting for my next vacation.
I see how easy it is to simply slip into the routine, to blink and realise that months have passed by. I’ve watched it happen to myself. I had all these dreams and expectations of the kind of writer I would be, where I’d be by this age, and yet I let myself linger in the comfort of a safe job.
I became that person who waited for the weekends so that I could write and release the words gnawing at me from the inside of my mind.
I didn’t dislike my job, and I definitely liked my colleagues, but still I found myself trapped in that limbo of waiting.
It’s not as easy as telling people to quit their job. Unfortunately, we need a salary for things like rent, food and those vacations we’re desperately waiting for.
So how we can fight the limbo of waiting while still getting paid? How can we stop waiting for a vacation, and instead find one every day?
I think the reason why we look forward to weekends or vacations so much is because we put everything off until then. All the things we want to do, places we want to visit, or tasks that have been squatting at the back of our mind.
We fill our time off with so many wonderful things that we don’t appreciate each of them. They blur into one great day, or great trip, rather than getting the attention they deserve. And we return to work exhausted.
What if we rationed out the good things? What if we didn’t restrict ourselves?
For example, I never really go out for meals in my own city. It feels extravagant in this economy. And yet, I’ll order food when I feel exhausted and can’t bear to go to the grocery store. What if instead, I let myself go out for dinner in my own city once a month? What if I turned that into a treat to look forward to a random Tuesday night?
Instead of using all your holiday time to escape the place you live, imagine if you gave one day up to take a holiday in your own city or nearby. Turn a weekend into a 3-day staycation. Visit all those things that make your home so wonderful. Or spend that time truly resting at home, taking little walks or cooking elaborate dishes. Read all those books waiting on your shelf, or finally binge that TV show.
Sometimes you just need a holiday at home.
I once claimed in an article that “if I had a religion, it would be the religion of tiny joys”.
A little dramatic, but when am I not, right?
It does communicate just how passionate I am about finding little joys in your day. I struggle with my depression most days, and while tiny joys will never cure your mental illness, they help me in managing it some days.
I had to teach myself to open my eyes to these little joys. It’s so easy to miss them. You blink and they’re gone. But when you remind yourself constantly to be on the lookout for them, you discover a lot of tiny joys exist in the cracks of your day.
One of my current tiny joys is peppermint tea with honey; I’m obsessed. I even brought over a big box over from the UK as they’re surprisingly hard to find in the Netherlands!
Sitting with that warm mug between my hands and breathing in that minty smell gives me a moment of peace. Even if it’s a really dark day, and I haven’t found the willpower to shower or even get dressed, that mug gives me one little moment of peace. Sometimes that has to be enough.
Another moment of joy is lighting a candle for writing sessions or wearing my fuzzy new slippers. I tested the magic of taking showers in the dark. I take these tiny, insignificant things and make sure to appreciate them for a moment.
Now that I see these moments of joy, I’m also working to introduce them to my life. I’ve started reading while I have breakfast. I used to eat while I read my emails or watch a show, but I’ve started reading instead.
It helps that I’m currently hooked on a book series and struggle to put it down. So I make my morning porridge - sorry, I’m truly a boring person- and read for ten minutes.
I know it’s silly, but it brings such joy to my morning. I feel like it centres me for the day to come. It feels like a treat to start my day with something I love so much: the written word. It feels like a reminder that one day I’ll get there myself, someone will read one of my books over their porridge or avocado toast.
These little moments of joy are things often reserved for vacations. But by introducing them into your daily life, you allow ordinary days to become joyful ones.
I could look at my morning walk as something I do for exercise or controlling my weight. I could look at it as a part of my daily work routine. But I choose not to.
Instead, I see my morning walk as a daily gift to myself.
I used to go running most mornings or do home workouts, but there was no joy in it. I found myself slipping into seeing it through the lens of calorie burning, which is a slippery slope I don’t want to return to.
So I stopped running and I started walking.
I live in a big city so my walks won’t take me through woodlands or fields anytime soon. But they do take me past the canals that characterise my city. They led me to discover a park built on the rooftop of a shopping centre, where I even spotted a rabbit frolicking about. They take me to a new cafe to surprise my roommate with a takeaway coffee.
I could see my walks as a daily chore, a hassle, a box to tick. But I fight that urge and see my walks as this moment of peace before the day begins. They’re a chance to listen to my favourite podcasts or a new album.
In a day filled with things I must do, my morning walk is something I get to do. It’s something I am grateful for.
When looking at the day you design for yourself, stay open to the joy in it all. Consider how a small switch in perspective can allow something to be a gift rather than a must.
A walk to get groceries could be lengthened and include your favourite album as the soundtrack. Walking the dog could include a stop to get coffee, and become something both you and pup enjoy. If you plan to call a friend or family member, do it as you walk about.
And that’s just on walking, as naturally it can involve so many different things.
For example, in the last two years I began really focusing on my skincare and buying more products. And rather than my skincare being something I have to do and rush through, it became this little daily moment of reflection. I take my time with it, really apply the products thoroughly, and focus on the sensation.
I stopped seeing my skincare as a chore, and saw it as a moment of self-care.
Take a look at the things you have to do in a day, and recognise which of them you actually want to do and enjoy. Reframe them in that light, and don’t let the pleasure of them be taken by the grind of daily life.
With small changes, you can find a vacation every single day. You can find something to look forward to, a little light in your workload. Build your life around regular moments of self-care to ensure you’re working to live rather than living to work.
Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
Would you like to receive my top monthly articles right to your inbox?
For any comments/questions/enquiries, please get in touch at:
I'd love to hear from you!