5 Healthy Habits We Ignore Too Often5:12 PM
A while ago I started feeling very unsettled and unhappy with myself and how life was going. I felt like I was waking up just to go to work and come back home to sleep again to work again to sleep again... I felt tired. All. The. Time. I felt stressed and suffocated. I had 3 trips to the hospital in the span of 6 months. I had all these medical advices and indications that I kept ignoring and not putting into practice. My university was on strike but I still felt like all that supposed free time I had was simply evaporating. Bad habits and vices were taking over my days.
So I decided enough is enough and started experimenting with new habits, healthier habits. And things slowly started shifting.
1. Drinking more water.
I was never good with drinking enough water. Although today we have this "healthy-culture", when I was a kid, sodas didn't have as many red flags around them, so it was all we drank. I remember going entire weeks without drinking a glass of water.
Despite having grown up reading many times how water is important, how it makes you less tired, makes your skin glow and rids you of toxins, I was still not drinking water enough. So when my doctor gave me a warning notice of "either you drink enough water now or you will have a really big issue in the close future", I started trying to be more rigorous with it. Now, I'm drinking about 1,5L a day, which is still not enough, but is about 3x more than I was drinking before. I downloaded the Plant Nanny app to help keep me on track and keep record of it all. It's adorable. Funny thing is, dehydration is a pretty common health issue, even in countries which have plenty of access to clean water.
Sure, I still have days in which I drink maybe a glass of water, but for the most part, I'm doing really well. And how do I feel? A lot less tired. My skin breaks out a lot less. And I have had no trips to the hospital since. Coincidence? I think not.
2. Sun screen every day.
I live in Rio de Janeiro. It's hella sunny all year long. Last week the temperature hit a high of 42ºC and it's not even summer yet. However, my morning regime did not include sun screen. Which is insane. I'm 22 years old. And I'm very white. Whiter than Snow White could ever dream of being.
I'm not sure why, maybe it was the increasing amount of freckles appearing, my skin showing a higher intolerance to the sun or getting my 5th billion sunburn, but I figured it was time to start being a bit more responsible with myself. I currently use ROC Minesol Oil-Control SPF 70 everyday and I love it.
My skin feels softer, makeup stays on longer and this SPF dries pretty quickly on the skin also, so I don't have to worry about getting overly oily during the day. It seems like a crime I haven't been doing this for longer.
3. Meditate, meditate, meditate.
I had tried meditating previously and it did help me with anxiety issues. Nevertheless, I stopped. I don't quite remember why, maybe I just never built up the habit properly.
But with how anxious I currently feel, during this life transition of graduating from Uni and deciding what will be of the rest of my life (chills), meditation popped up in my head as a good idea to help me deal.
Thing is, I'm not great at meditating on my own, I work best with guided meditation, so I had to find some good apps for that. I'm currently using Calm, even though Headspace is my favorite. Both of them provide guided meditations, in which you can chose for how long you desire to meditate, and keep track of all the days you've meditated, keeping you motivated to continue. Calm even provides different options of "background" noises, such as forest sounds, beaches, lakes, etc. Headspace is paid, which is why I don't use it, but it's definitely the best one. I can do a more detailed round up of all the apps I've tried in this process, on some future post, if anyone finds it helpful.
Missing a day of meditation now is frustrating and truly makes a difference. After around a month of daily 10 minute meditations, I've been feeling much calmer, lighter and more focused. There's something quite essential in keeping in touch with your inner self.
4. Organization and planning.
Let me put this out there: I have always been a stationary and planner lover. But I haven't always put my planners to the best use. My routine never included actual moments focused on organizing my weeks. I sort of winged it and hoped for it to go well/felt anxious about everything until it happened.
Last year, though, a friend of mine found out about the Passion Planner, which is basically a weekly planner, which provides hourly slots for your daily planning, spaces for notes and to-do lists, and we decided we would all get one. I loved my Passion Planner as soon as it came in the mail. But I kept using it as I always used planners, for the most part.
Until very recently, when I started separating 30 minutes every monday for writing down every to-do item of the week in a determined time slot for me to get it done. And every first 15 minutes of my work day I scroll through my inbox to add whatever last-minute changes are needed. I've never felt more in control and having gotten my shit together. Ever. I even have planned blog post ideas. Whaaat?
Yes, okay sometimes things don't go as planned and I have to anticipate or delay items. But it still works well enough to keep me focused on one thing at a time, without freaking out about not being able to get it all done in time. Life changing.
5. Sleeping schedule.
As an internet addict, sleeping has always been a difficult topic. I've always slept late and woke up even later. However, when I started interning, I figured that keeping up with this pattern was doing nothing more than ruining my days. I ended up waking too late to do anything other than getting ready for my internship and got home too tired to try to enjoy the night ahead. Slowly, this pattern drove me insane. I was doing nothing but working and sleeping and missed doing more, exploring creative outlets, watching movies, going out..
When about a month ago I established a new challenge for myself, even I thought I'd fail. I had to be in bed at 11 p.m. and awake at 7 a.m. That's a perfectly round 8 hours of sleep there. And it felt impossible at first, as I've been accustomed to fall asleep at 1 a.m., earliest, and wake up like a zombie as late as I possibly could, which could variate from waking up at 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.. Soon enough, though, I felt better and better about it. The days felt more productive, I saw more sunlight, which made me happier and I gained a bit more time to do things I enjoyed, out of my intern-life.
Beyond this though, having a sleeping pattern meant I was sleeping better, too. Programming my brain to fall asleep at the same hour everyday, I had less of the insomnia issues I once experienced. Getting 8 hours of sleep, on the other hand, was just enough for me to wake up well disposed. What I learned through all of this is that sleeping less than you need is terrible for your body. But sleeping too much won't help you either, neither physically nor helping you enjoy your life to the fullest. Find that balance.
After a month of putting these habits into practice, life feels a little bit more under control. Of course I'm still freaking out about the future and, as a proper millennial, anxious about how I can change the world while having an office job. But those are bigger issues that can't be solved in a month or by simply "adjusting your habits". They're bigger issues only the more centered, calm and organized me can deal with. No one can deal with the world's problems without taking care of themselves first, you know.
Now, go grab yourself a glass of water. I bet you, you're dehydrated.