Trading stress for serenity: create your to-be list to nurture your mental health

If you think that stress and anxiety are somehow ‘normal’ and perfhaps you asked yourself how to trade them for a bit of serenity. But what if there was a way to trade that stress for serenity? We’re constantly bombarded with to-do lists and a never-ending stream of tasks to complete. It’s no wonder the price of mental health is at an all time high record and billions of people are suffering. What if we could focus less on doing and more on being?

Shifting your priorities and focusing on self-awareness and self-love, you can enrich your mental health and find a sense of serenity in your daily life. And the science backs it up: The World Happiness Report has found that countries with higher levels of well-being prioritise happiness over success, and things like wellbeing, community, social support, and personal satisfaction over productivity and material success. So, let’s go to the garden of your mind and explore what does it take to trade stress for serenity. If you want to start trading your to-do-list for your to-be list, keep reading.

a garden with a small pond surrounded by trees

What is a To-Be List?

Imagine you’re a firefighter, rushing from one emergency to the next, carrying a heavy fire extinguisher in your arms at all times. You’re always busy, always on the go, and always focused on putting out fires and saving lives. But in the midst of all the chaos, you realise that you’ve forgotten something important: yourself. You’ve been so busy putting out fires and tending to others that you’ve neglected your own needs and desires.

After years of this hectic lifestyle, you come to a realisation: your to-do list has been holding you back. It’s been weighing you down and keeping you from discovering who you truly are and what you really want out of life. So you exchange your to-do list for a to-be list. Instead of constantly rushing around, trying to get things done, you focus on being yourself. You prioritise self-love and self-discovery, taking time to explore your reason for being and reconnect with your true self.

Now, instead of a long list of tasks to accomplish, you have just one item on your to-be list: to be you. And that’s enough. You’re no longer weighed down by the expectations and demands of others, and you’re free to explore and enjoy all that life has to offer. If you find yourself feeling like a busy firefighter, always carrying a heavy burden, take a step back and ask yourself: What’s really important to me?

What do I want to be, not just do? And then start living your life in a way that honours those answers, one day at a time. As you embrace this new perspective, you begin to notice a sense of inner peace and satisfaction that you haven’t felt in years. Instead of constantly striving for external achievements and validation, you find joy in simply being yourself and following your own path.

It requires self-discipline but you will discover that the more you prioritise self-love and self-awareness, the more you’re able to show up as your best self in all areas of your life. You become a better mother, a more effective businesswoman, and a happier human being. Of course, there will still be tasks and responsibilities that require your attention, but now you approach them with a sense of ease and clarity. You’re no longer weighed down by the constant pressure to accomplish more and more.

In the end, by letting go of your limiting belief and your to-do list and embracing your to-be list, you create a life that’s truly fulfilling and meaningful. You become the hero of your own story, living life on your own terms and making a positive impact in the world around you.

A to-be list is a list of experiences, qualities and characteristics that you want to embody and cultivate in your life. It’s a way of focusing on the person you want to become, rather than the tasks you need to complete. Examples of items on a to-be list might include “kind,” “generous,” “patient,” or “present.”

white seashore

The mental health benefits of your To-Be List

There are many benefits to creating a to-be list. First and foremost, it can reduce stress and anxiety. When you focus solely on our to-do list, you can feel overwhelmed and stressed out. By shifting your focus to your to-be list, you can reduce that stress and feel more grounded.

In addition to reducing stress, a to-be list can also add value to your life satisfaction, feeling that you are good enough and deserving of happiness and well-being. When you focus on the person you want to be, you are more likely to engage in activities and behaviours that align with your values. For example, if one of your to-be list items is “present,” you might be more likely to put down your phone and focus on the people around you, which can lead to deeper connections and a greater sense of fulfilment.

When we think about investing in our health, we often focus on physical wellness: eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. However, mental health is just as important – if not more so – for our overall well-being. Investing in our mental health can have numerous benefits, from improved relationships and greater resilience to increased productivity and creativity.

Unfortunately, many people still view mental health as a luxury or an indulgence, rather than an immediate necessity. This is often due to a lack of awareness, stigma, or financial barriers to accessing care. However, the price of neglecting our mental health can be steep, both personally and financially. If you are to take one thing away from my pledge for nurturing your mental health, just remember: less is more.

green glass vase on brown wooden table

The cost of poor mental health

When we neglect our mental health, we risk experiencing a range of negative outcomes. This might include:

  • Increased stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Decreased ability to cope with challenges or setbacks
  • Difficulty forming and maintaining relationships
  • Decreased quality of life and life satisfaction
  • Reduced creativity and productivity

These outcomes can have a significant impact on our daily lives, affecting everything from our work performance to our personal relationships.

The cost of poor mental health is not just personal – it also has a significant financial impact. Mental health conditions are among the leading causes of disability and lost productivity worldwide. In the US alone, the cost of mental health conditions is estimated to be over $200 billion per year.

This cost is borne not only by individuals but also by society as a whole. Employers may experience reduced productivity and increased healthcare costs, while governments may need to invest in social programs and healthcare services to support those with mental health conditions.

Despite the potential costs of poor mental health, many people still hesitate to invest in their well-being. However, there are numerous ways to prioritize mental health, even on a limited budget. These might include:

  • Practicing mindfulness and stress-reduction techniques
  • Building social support networks
  • Engaging in regular physical activity
  • Seeking support from a therapist or counselor
  • Practicing self-compassion and self-care

While these activities may require time and effort, they can also have significant benefits for our overall well-being and quality of life.

In conclusion, mental health is a vital aspect of our overall well-being, and investing in it is worth the cost. By prioritizing our mental health, we can experience greater resilience, creativity, and productivity, and reduce the risk of negative outcomes associated with poor mental health.

yellow and brown leaves on white ceramic tiles

Creating and embracing your To-Be List

Creating a to-be list is simple but embracing it is a matter of self-discipline and making better lifestyle choices in everyday life. Start by brainstorming qualities or characteristics that you want to embody or cultivate in your life. Try to focus on values or traits that are important to you, rather than what you think you “should” be working on.

Once you have a list of potential to-be list items, prioritise them based on which ones are most important to you. You might also want to consider which items would have the biggest impact on your life.

Finally, make your to-be list visible. Write it down and put it somewhere where you will see it regularly. You might even want to create a daily reminder to review your to-be list and think about how you can embody those qualities throughout the day.

Once you have created your to-be list, it’s important to start incorporating those qualities into your life. This might mean making small changes to your daily routine, such as taking a few minutes each day to practise mindfulness or setting aside time to connect with loved ones.

It’s also important to remember that embodying the qualities on your to-be list is a process. It won’t happen overnight, and there will be setbacks along the way. But by focusing on the person you want to become and taking small steps towards that goal each day, you can make real progress over time.

Embracing your to-be list can be a powerful way to reduce stress, increase happiness, and lead a more fulfilling life. By shifting our focus from doing to being, we can become the people we truly want to be. So take some time to create your to-be list, prioritise your values, and start taking small steps towards embodying those qualities each day.


  1. What is the difference between a to-do list and a to-be list?

A to-do list focuses on tasks that need to be completed, while a to-be list focuses on qualities or characteristics that you want to embody or cultivate in your life.

  1. Can a to-be list help with stress

Yes, a to-be list can help reduce stress by shifting our focus away from the overwhelming tasks of our to-do list and towards embodying qualities that make us feel grounded and fulfilled.

  1. How often should I review my to-be list?

It’s a good idea to review your to-be list regularly, such as daily or weekly. This can help keep those qualities at the forefront of your mind and make it easier to incorporate them into your daily life.

  1. What if I don’t know what qualities I want to embody?

Take some time to reflect on what is important to you in life. Think about values or traits that you admire in others or that you wish to develop in yourself. You might also consider seeking guidance from a trusted friend, family member, or therapist.

  1. Is it possible to have too many items on my to-be list?

Yes, having too many items on your to-be list can be overwhelming and counterproductive. Try to prioritise the qualities that are most important to you and focus on embodying those first. You can always add more items to your list as you progress.

Dr Marina Nani
Dr Marina Nani

Editor-in-Chief of Rich Woman Magazine, founder of Sovereign Magazine, author of many books, Dr Marina Nani is a social edification scientist coining a new industry, Social Edification.
Passionately advocating to celebrate your human potential, she is well known for her trademark "Be Seen- Be Heard- Be You" running red carpet events and advanced courses like Blog Genius®, Book Genius®, Podcast Genius®, the cornerstones of her teaching.
The constant practitioner of good news, she founded MAKE THE NEWS
( MTN) with the aim to diagnose and close the achievement gap globally.
Founder of many publications, British Brands with global reach Marina believes that there is a genius ( Stardust) in each individual, regardless of past and present circumstances.
"Not recognising your talent leaves society at loss. Sharing the good news makes a significant difference in your perception about yourself, your industry and your community."

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