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Charlotte Reader / Her Campus

The Art of Appreciating the Little Things 

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Illinois State chapter.

Life moves fast, and it has honestly felt faster after experiencing the events and effects of the pandemic. It can be very easy to feel as though life is passing you by and, in turn, create anxiety and overwhelming feelings. I have personally been working on ways to slow down and appreciate small things every day as a way to help me feel more grounded and thankful. But I’ve noticed that most advice centers around journaling, and I have a hard time sticking to something like that. So, these ideas are for anyone who has struggled in a similar way or anyone who wants a fun new addition to their gratitude practice routine! I hope that these tips can bring a little bit of joy to you in this hectic world!

1. Dollar Store Decor

When dealing with a fast-paced lifestyle, your living space can often feel like a crashing point. You’re go, go, go all day and feel like you could drop by the time you get back home. This, as well as if you’re dealing with financial stressors, often leads to your space ending up quite plain and undecorated. It can be daunting to try to find the money and time to fully decorate your home, but this trick can help bring a bit of coziness and personality in a snap. Dollar Stores like Dollar Tree and Five Below are often overlooked when it comes to decor items, but you can find candles, string lights, wall hangings, pillows, and more for just a few bucks! And on top of that, if you’re not finding something you love on your budget, they also have craft supplies so you can DIY! No matter if you end up with one item or 10, any bit of pizzazz added to your space will make you appreciate the time that you get to relax there all the more!

2. Homemade recipes

You may be thinking, “if I am already struggling with a hectic life, how will I be able to find any time to cook a homemade meal?” And yes, it does seem counter-intuitive. This is something I struggled with a lot when I moved into my first apartment. However, if you rethink your idea of home-cooked cuisine, it becomes a lot more attainable! I have a wonton soup recipe that I created that is essentially just tricked-out ramen with a few frozen wontons thrown in, but it makes me feel like I put effort into making dinner and helps me appreciate the tools I have that allowed me to get to the end result. Cooking is supposed to be a fun process, but it often gets reduced to a chore that separates someone from a long day at work or school and a delicious dinner. The easiest way to achieve creating a homemade recipe from scratch is to take a step back from your cabinets and really assess what odds and ends you have to work with. All recipes had to start from somewhere. Have fun with it, and be sure to write it down if it’s a hit!

3. The “One-and-Done” Rule

Another difficult barrier that comes with a busy lifestyle is the chores that get brushed aside at home. This can definitely become overwhelming very quickly as things start to add up. My go-to motto for these situations is the “one-and-done” rule. Depending on your motivation and/or stress level (or how much time you have to get it done), you can choose one item to put away where it is supposed to be, choose one section of a room to clean, or choose one room in the house to tidy up. With this method, you can alleviate the guilt or any pressure you may feel to complete the entire house at once and cater to your emotional and physical needs while still feeling as though you got something done. And, if you choose to only do a small portion, by the time you’re done you may even feel increasingly motivated to finish the room! Putting one item away may seem trivial, but even the smallest act of tidying can increase your appreciation for your space while keeping you free from overwhelming feelings.

4. Money jar

As you’re cleaning with the one-and-done rule, you may find some loose change. Taking a mason jar and tossing in that change or any bills that you don’t want to carry around with you saves you from needing to invest in a piggy bank, as well as lets you see the money accumulate! In today’s society, it’s very easy to reduce our wealth into a little number on our phones that tells us our bank account balance. Using physical cash that you may not be actively spending helps increase spending awareness and gratitude. Once the jar is full, count it out, take it to the bank and start again. It may not seem like much, but over time watching the jar grow can help you appreciate what you have by using change that you may have overlooked previously. (And may even fund a trip to go get yourself a treat one day!)

5. Nature Walks

Finally, one of my favorite tricks to appreciate the world around you: nature walks. Many people say that exercising increases dopamine and makes you happier. This can be true, but it can also be an intimidating undertaking for some people …especially those with busy schedules. Taking a bit of time to walk outside gets your body moving, and you can even use this walk as a means of transportation, if you live on or near your college campus, to make the walk feel more productive. And while the exercise is nice, the real key is to find bits of nature on this walk that you appreciate. Simply take a look around as you walk and find something that makes you smile. You can take a picture of some cool clouds, pick a wildflower, or even just smile as a squirrel runs up a tree. Nature is always there, and it is easy to forget that it can be so calm and is there for us to enjoy. 

Whether you’re appreciating a tasty bowl of soup, the change in your pocket, or a cute bunny in the bushes, the small things are there to make your life joyful. I hope these tips and tricks are able to inspire your routines for years to come. 

Sonny Crull

Illinois State '23

Hi! My name is Sonny Crull, I am a Senior at Illinois State, and I'm majoring in Interpersonal Communications with a minor in Music! As a writer, I aim to use my voice and platform through Her Campus to share fun, engaging, and relatable content.