Habits are an important part of maintaining your mental and physical health. While habits may often make you think of phrases like “stuck in a rut” or “mindless routine,” habits can in fact be much more than that. Habits can be simple acts of maintenance or more complex commitments to personal interrogation. Keeping myself accountable with habits has made a big change in my life and I hope that you too can use them both to improve yourself and to catch yourself before you fall.
Here are a mix of my healthy habits, those that maintain and those that help me grow.
Most of my maintenance is daily. I’ve noticed that when I fail to take care of these tasks, things start to fall apart. Taking care of little things on a regular basis can mean that you have the good health to take care of bigger things. For example, in my old dorm, a lot of students didn’t eat healthy. A few barely even ate at all! They could just never find the time. Because of this, colds and other types of sick would spread really easily. Those who were already weak from lack of eating would totally fall apart, with their health and their studies. Taking the half hour to sit down for a meal is better in the long run! It took me a while to learn how to take care of myself and to even go so far as take extra vitamin C right before a bug got big. Paying attention to my body and my needs on a regular basis: that’s what maintenance is really about. These habits are about long term wisdom rather than short term results.
- Get out of the apartment everyday
- Listen to my body
- Walk or exercise for 30 minutes daily
- Eat something when hungry
- Eat at least 1 healthy meal each day
- Journal daily
- Wake up and sleep at a regular time
Once you have yourself in good shape, doing your maintenance on a regular basis, you can move forward to growing! Growing for me is about making sure that my goals and day to day life are in alignment. This can mean things like having a brunch chat with an old friend: I make sure that I am maintaining a connection that I enjoy. I give back to them and help them while enjoying some yummy food. I also can, by talking with a good friend, find out more about myself and the world around me. This is a small act of growth. It becomes a habit to look for ways to grow
- Review: Does your work lead you towards your goals? Do you know where you are headed?
- Interrogate: Does this right now make you happy? These people, this place, this work?
- Respond: Do you take responsibility for what you control? Do you adapt?
- Relax: Do you feel rested? Recharged?
Habits can also serve as a barometer of how you’re feeling. I can now catch myself when I’m just starting to get ill because I may really feel like going to bed a lot earlier or sleeping in. These sorts of barometer moments can be useful for catching problems before they escalate. For example, when I’m feeling tired in the morning, I may take extra care to eat well for the next few days with a focus on staying well. While it may not be efficient to form a habit just to catch a problem, sometimes these things are easily linked. More likely you’ll just need time because those sorts of thing reveal themselves.
Good luck forming new habits!