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‘Romanticizing Your Life’ Can Have Real Mental Health Benefits

'Romanticizing Your Life' Can Have Real Mental Health Benefits
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Staying fully present isn’t always easy, though, when you live in a go-go-go society that can make reading alone in a park with your muted notifications feel like a rebellious, or even guilt-inducing, act. “We’re often so focused on doing the next thing that we’re not truly noticing what’s happening in front of us,” Mancao says. “We’re constantly doing multiple things at once, so it can be really helpful for people to practice slowing down and doing one thing at a time, with awareness.”

Being present and appreciating what’s right in front of you can be a powerful act, and doesn’t have to take much time out of your day. “The #romanticizeyourlife TikToks I love most are the ones where people post, ‘I have 10 minutes in the morning and I use it to read’ or ‘I take a few minutes out of my day to journal’—small, attainable things, ” says Hoffman.

It can also reaffirm what you already love to do—and help you enjoy those things more.

When the romanticize-your-life trend took off early in the pandemic, many of us were isolated from our larger communities, and activities that had previously shaped our sense of self vanished overnight. A lot of people sought ways to give our suddenly-restricted daily lives meaning, whether that took the form of baking sourdough bread, whipping up Dalgona coffee, or tie-dying…everything.

And even though the most intense days of isolation have passed, Hoffman says many of us are still getting reacquainted with ourselves and trying to connect with what brings us joy, which is where focusing on simple pleasures comes in. “There’s still so much going on in this quote-unquote ‘post-COVID world,’ and romanticizing your life is about trying to find those small moments where you can feel good and take care of yourself,” Hoffman says.

When looking for ways to do that, Hoffman recommends starting by asking yourself, What do I already do in my daily life that I can turn into a mindfulness practice? “As a therapist, I can tell you that convincing someone to add another thing to their to-do list is tough,” she says. “But if you’re someone who naturally takes a walk, for example, you can turn your phone off or maybe listen to something that really calms you down. Or, if you’re someone who takes long showers, you can think about how the hot water feels against your skin.”

It might help you find the magic in mundane moments.

In a September 2022 video, TikToker @liebmaple managed to romanticize something most city-dwellers don’t just take for granted, but actively grumble about: Switching on mass transit.

“As a kid, I always dreamed of taking the train every day to work or school because that wasn’t a thing where I grew up,” she says over a video of herself reading while listening to music on a train. “It’s such a simple thing, taking the train, but I’m insanely grateful.”

Unable to muster appreciation for your packed rush-hour train trip? We get it. Romanticizing your life as a gratitude exercise is about finding your thing, or things, and cultivating a practice around them. That could be as small as buying a pack of your favorite ballpoint pens and luxuriating in how the ink glides across the page as you write in your journal every morning.

In other words, the ultimate goal of romanticizing your life, according to Hoffman and Mancao, should be finding your own ways to stay present, ones that are authentic to you—not the life of another TikToker who is luxuriating in an Italian villa or “ noticing” how good it feels to apply their $300 skincare routine. “We can fall into a comparison trap if we look at somebody else’s romanticization of their life,” Mancao says. Instead, “Look at these videos as inspirations, not as rigid guidelines.” Better yet, look around for inspo in your own life. After all, you’re the main character in that romance.

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