Happy Hump Day! Here are 5 Habits that have changed my life. These habits are pretty general and can be added into your routine quite easily, making the most positive changes. I’ve identified my 5 habits that I now always make the time for – what are yours?
This one has always been a game changer for me. There are always periods in my life where I slowly let my meditation practice go and it is not as consistent as it once was. During these times I find myself being a bit more stuck in the past, or future, instead of the present moment. I also see my reactions to certain things being a bit more sporadic compared to coming from a much more calm place.
Carving out the time for yourself to bring your constantly running mind to a stop can make such an impact on your day. It’s as simple as sitting in silence, either on your couch, on a chair, or cushion. Close your eyes and take a deep breathe in and out. Focus on your breathing and the feeling of your chest rising and then falling. When thoughts come up, don’t be forceful. Watch them come and go from the seat of the soul. Learn to disassociate those thoughts from your self. Watch them as they pass by like a stick floating down a river. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you catch yourself engaging in the thoughts that come up, this practice is all about catching yourself whenever you can and letting it go to come back to that place of silence.
Some apps that are useful are Calm. This is a paid app (also offers a free week trial) but in my opinion it is so worth it. You can have a meditation timer with no guidance or take guided meditations. They have all sorts of meditations on the app including series like “self confidence” or “loss of a loved one”. There are countless options on this app including calming sounds like the rainforest, waves crashing and more. Another good app would be Headspace. This app gives you access to the first level (10 minutes/session) for free. Past the first level it is a paid app.
If you’re like me and a guided meditation doesn’t quite do the trick, light an incense. Find yourself a mantra that aligns with your beliefs and a mala necklace. Hold each bead while repeating the mantra and let your mind drift off into the beautiful unknown.
2. Morning Pages
If you haven’t heard of morning pages, it’s an idea taken from the book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. The idea is that you journal for 3 pages every morning. There’s no wrong way to do it. You simply let whatever is on your mind flow. If you’re sitting there thinking that 3 pages is a lot and you probably don’t have that much to say.. you do. Even if you get stuck, start writing about whatever comes up. These don’t have to be thought provoking or be powerful deep thoughts.. it’s really an exercise to get what’s on your mind out of the way and to “provoke, clarify and comfort”.
Doing this in the morning has helped me feel lighter. It’s also helped me be ready to take on the day without all these subconscious worries at the back of my mind. It helps with my writing, my creativity and also with noticing what I do need to get done, by then adding it into whatever appropriate to-do list it belongs in.
3. Keeping Active
This one has become so important to me. I have always had an active lifestyle but setting out for specific goals and using this as a tool to feel better and keep my energy levels up has been so beneficial.
Whether this is through running, weight training or yoga.. even just being active outside with hikes and longer walks I see it make such a positive impact on my mood, energy levels and just overall health.
Making sure to carve out the time during your week to put your health first is an investment in yourself. You’ve probably heard all of this before – how important it is to keep an active lifestyle and all that jazz but trust me. When you make it a priority the rewards are endless. I personally find my sleep patterns are better, I have a better relationship with food and what I want to put into my body and as mentioned – energy and mood levels rise up up up. I can’t go without it now. My weeks are filled with any opportunity I can get to get outside or get in the gym/studio to get my body moving. When I’m having a bad day or feeling sluggish and want to post-pone these activities, I remind myself that once they are done I will be so grateful and see them as a tool to help me get out of a funk.
4. Planning Ahead
Ah. Planning. My go-to. Anyone that is close to me knows I love love love to plan things out in advance. Whether this is through a physical planner, my iCal or my notebooks I always have a general idea of what
my week will look like. I know that things can come up and I might have to move some things around but at the very least I have a general idea of what it is I need to get done. If something comes up, I can easily re-arrange my to-do list to a further date.
A tactic I’ve recently included in my weekly routine is the Sunday Planning. I like to spend a day of the week planning my week ahead. To start this off I use a tactic called “Brain Dumping”. I write down anything and everything that is coming to mind as to what I need to get done, ideas etc. I put it all out on a piece of paper. Once I am done with this I try and collect any notes or lists I’ve accumulated for the previous week. This includes things that haven’t been completed or just little notes I’ve set aside. I also take a look at my bigger general to do list that don’t have due dates and incorporate them in there as well. Once this is done, I categories these into: To do Today, To do This Week, To do (General)
I incorporate my to-do lists into my weekly calendar, I add in my workouts, my yoga and my goals. My current goals are to learn spanish, and the piano – so for example I’ve allocated 3x1hr sessions for my spanish and 1x2hr session for the piano. I add those in my calendar and were good to go. At this point I can have a clear visual as to what my week is going to look like. After this I add in any commitments I’ve made with friends etc.
5. Checking In
This is as crucial as Planning Ahead for me. Doing a weekly check in prior to my planning helps me review the past week and see what did or did not work. What have I been avoiding? What task did not get done? How are my goals doing?
I also take the time to clean up my to-do list – moving forward anything that has not been completed. I clean up what has been done as well.
This exercise also helps me feel somewhat in control of my life (even though if we’re really honest, control is merely an illusion ammmmm I right). It helps me keep track of my goals and see what tactics are working and what I need to change to get there.
What’s been really important for me is being kind to myself. I set pretty big goals and when I don’t fully achieve them it’s pretty easy to be de-motivated. Ways to avoid this can include setting smaller goals or simply seeing what went wrong during your weekly review and adjusting it for the next week. Sometimes taking a small step back and being a bit more realistic with how you spend your time is the best way to get to the finish line. You don’t always have to sprint – smaller steps can also get you there!