My “Little Wins” List!
Gosh, times are challenging right now aren’t they? I gotta tell ya, my mental health has been all over the place this year – and I’m not the only one, right? I don’t know if you can relate to this but I’ve had good days and bad days, good weeks and bad weeks, and sometimes it feels like my whole nervous system doesn’t even know how to regulate itself anymore because I am constantly feeling a bit untethered.
That’s why I created the My “Little Wins” List.
During this period of uncertainty where many of us are operating with a lack of structure and routine, it’s all too easy to fall into patterns that we *think* are making us feel better, but actually make us feel worse. It’s the difference between “I’ve genuinely had a massive day so I’m gonna take it easy on myself, lay in bed and watch Netflix tonight” and “All I do is lie in bed and watch Netflix, I have no idea what day it is, when I last showered, my bed is full of popcorn and I can’t be bothered doing anything and… Oh, Hi Anxiety, how did you get in here?”
So, the My “Little Wins” List is all about making sure you’re taking those little moments every day to find pleasure, stillness and a sense of purpose. It is CONSCIOUSLY created to be used on your good days and your not-so-good days, hopefully without making you feel pressured. I don’t know about you but “Habit Trackers” are usually fine for me until I have a bad day, and as soon as I do it becomes one more thing that I can make beat myself up about. That is NOT what this is. You will notice that some things on the list are specific in time frame and increment, and some are not. I purposely left some things open and gave some things a minimum checkpoint, so I’ll talk you through the thought behind each item now. (If you’re not into explanations and just want to download your FREE copy, scroll to the bottom!)
1. Take a shower
It is up to you if you like to do this in the morning or afternoon. I personally like to shower in the morning, because if I shower, I’m more likely to do things like wash my hair if it needs it, moisturise and get dressed, all of which make me feel better to start the day. But if you want to shower and get back into your pyjamas, that’s cool – because at least you showered.
2. Make my bed
This is a big one for me. After I shower, I make my bed. This SIGNIFICANTLY decreases the likelihood of me crawling back into it when I feel like crap during the day. I may still spend time ON the bed, working or reading, and I may even snuggle under a rug on top of the covers, but as long as I’m not actually IN bed UNDER my doona I am MUCH less likely to lie down and start THINKING, which is a big danger zone and possibly something you might wat to watch out for too.
3. Go for a walk
You will notice this one has no time or distance attached. On days when you feel like crap, you just might not have it in the tank to think about walking for even 5 minutes. That’s cool. The key is making sure you’re getting on your feet. Can’t face a proper walk? That’s cool, just make it to the end of your street. Or your neighbour’s driveway. Or if you got back into your pyjamas after your shower, just do a lap of the clothesline. Feeling OK today? Awesome, go around the block, do a lap of your nearest oval, take the kids to the park. Whatever you can manage is FINE, just do what you can.
4. Write in my journal
Again, no target for this one. Want to grab a notebook and just write “EVERYTHING SUCKS!” in big black letters? Do that. Compose a haiku about getting a parcel in the mail. Write about the weird dream you had last night. Write about how you feel. Write down a quote you read on Instagram. I don’t care what it is, just write something down. Fill page after page if you’re drawn to it. Just write SOMETHING. Even a to-do list counts.
5. Make something
Whether that’s creating something artistically, following a recipe or picking a bunch of flowers from your garden. The point is doing something with your hands. I LOVE making mug cakes when I feel crappy, because they’re just a single serve so I’m not going to be eating it for days on end, but I love the process of piling a few things into a mug, mixing them together, popping them in the microwave and watching the cake rise. Maybe you can grab some yarn, wrap it around your fingers and make a pom-pom. Or make those paper chain dolls we used to make in primary school. It doesn’t have to be fancy, or long-lasting, or even GOOD. Just make something.
6. Learn something
This can be as big or small as you want it to be. Google a word you don’t understand from a book or article. Listen to podcast. Look up “how to play the accordion” on YouTube. If you have the time and space to dive into something for hours, do it. If you have five minutes to message that person on Instagram and ask where they got their earrings from, do that. It doesn’t have to be huge, but it can be. The key is to either watch out for or carve out those moments.
7. Spend 5 minutes sitting still in nature (no phone)
Oftentimes for me, that just looks like going and sitting in my backyard, closing my eyes and setting a timer. This one’s all about being still and present. Feel the sun on your face or the breeze tickling your arms. Listen to the birdsongs. Ground your toes in the grass if that’s your jam. Don’t have a yard? That’s cool, get in front of an open window. Make sure it’s a multisensory experience. What can you feel, smell, hear and (if you want to keep your eyes open) see? Is it raining? That’s fine, do the window thing, or stand out under shelter in the rain. Find a way that works for you – maybe that’s even walking to the beach or going to the park on a good day – but again, no pressure.
8. Do a little bit of a bigger project
I LOVE this one, because it really tickles our reward system to feel like we are making progress or working towards something, even if it seems frivolous or innocuous. Draw in an art journal page every day. Make a pom-pom every day to stick on a crown. Crochet a granny square (this is my favourite one). Do a bit of a jigsaw. Make a list of new recipes you want to try and make a new one every day. See how many different cocktails you can make which what’s in your liquor cabinet (in moderation of course). Whatever it is, make it so it’s at the end you either have something to show for it or tell someone about that makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something.
9. Read a chapter of a book for pleasure
This one has a set checkpoint because again, it makes you get present and concentrate on what’s in front of you. I like to do this one right before I go to sleep to give myself a break between screen time and sleep time because THOSE habits during lockdown have definitely gotten out of hand! If you want to read more than a chapter, go for it, and if you only get a page in before needing to close your eyes and drift off to dreamland I won’t judge you. But make sure you’re getting something else written into your brain besides news articles and your kid’s homework. Need some fluffy book recommendations? I’m happy to hook you up! But again, this is about pleasure, not work or learning. Prefer an audiobook? You do you, boo, just try and make it through a chapter.
10. Write a list of three good things that happened that day
This one is ALL about the little things – or the big things if they happen to come your way, but the key is to be specific. Mine often looks like “the marshmallows I had in my hot chocolate today” or “seeing a white daisy in the middle of the patch of purple daisies my walk”. Bee as specific as you can; “the hug my dad gave me this morning” or “the look on my kid’s face when they found that slug in the garden today.” I know I said “Write”, but feel free to make it a game or a household exercise. You could go around the table at dinner time and discuss your lists with your housemates, or send your friend a voice memo each night. Three things might seem like a LOT on a bad day, but I promise if you really think about it you will get there – and the great part is that by doing this each day, you will start looking out for things you can put on the list, which may well mean you will start noticing more things that bring you joy around you!
What’s with the divider between Saturday and Sunday?
I’m glad you asked! Sundays are completely optional. You might feel like you are on a roll and just want to keep going, you might want to do some things but not others, and you might want that to be your day to lie in bed to do nothing, and that’s totally fine. One day in bed isn’t going to hurt you – but every day might set you on a slippery slope and we don’t want that, so if you give yourself a day off on Sunday, ENJOY IT, and get back in your groove on Monday.
And that’s it! PHEW! If you made it this far, you’re a superstar. I hope you find this helpful!
Now go ahead and print out that list below, stick it to your wall or your fridge and blue-tack a pen next to it so you can check-in with it throughout the day and see all the progress you’re making! Even just ticking them off the list itself feels good!
If you use this list I’d love to know about your experience with it, so feel free to tag me on socials, send me a DM or shoot me an email at email@example.com to let me know how you go.
Lots and lots and lots of love,