Humans excel at doing the same task repeatedly. We get better as we practice and settle into the regular motions. This is true for helpful things like sleeping regular hours, going out to exercise and get vitamin D, healthy social interactions, journalling, playing board games, telling people how much we care about them. It is also true of unhelpful things like sleeping erratically, eating junk food, spending copious amounts of time watching TV, saying no to every invitation to hang out with friends, choosing not to exercise, worrying about things out of our control like our favourite sports team losing.
So, how do we figure out which ones are good and which ones are bad?
I’ve struggled to answer this question in my own life. A lot of trial and error has helped me find things that keep me productive and keep my mental health in a good space. And when I still don’t know whether something is healthy for me consistent prayer helps me logically work through it.
There are things we do in our lives that we feel in our souls are good for us. When we choose not to do them we feel the effects. For me there are five things that affect me most:
- Vitamin D.
- Creating things.
When I organise my schedule to know when I want to do these things life seems more survivable.
- Sleep. The solution to getting enough sleep has become clearer over time. Get to bed before midnight and get up at the same time each day. When I stay up past midnight it is difficult to get up at my desired time of 7.30am. When this happens darkness in my mind tells me I’ve wasted time and I have to spend energy fighting it, as well as doing what I had planned to with my day. Experts suggest going to sleep and getting up at the same time, and I know I feel better when I do.
- Food. My metabolism is effective. I can eat a meal as close to thirty minutes before exercise and be fine. I can also not eat for several hours and still play sport well. However, when I don’t eat regularly my mind becomes foggy and I struggle to communicate effectively. The solution is to eat healthy food at regular times, and not just wait until I’m hungry.
- Friends. I need time to myself to recharge my batteries, but when I don’t spend time with friends I can get stuck in my own head. I overthink decisions and lose perspective about the good things I am putting hard work into. The solution for me is to be honest with myself, to say yes when invited out by friends unless I have a good reason not to. I’m getting being at recognising the good reasons.
- Vitamin D. I used to avoid sunlight because I liked moving around in the dark and staying awake to the early hours of the morning. The solution to this is closely linked with sleeping well, and is often coupled with exercise. When I wake up at 7.30am and go for a walk in the sun I feel more ready to go about my day.
- Creating things. When I write a story, a blog post, a poem, a song, or create meaningful relationships, I feel hope. I feel there are important things that need to be said and my voice can help to say them. The more days in a row I set aside time to create, the easier it becomes to get stuck in each new day.
I know all these things, but I still struggle to change the things I know are unhelpful. By sharing my journey here I can go back and see the progress I’ve made.
This post has flitted between making good habits and figuring out the things we need to do each day to stay healthy. Hopefully there were some useful morsels that have given you ideas on where you value spending time. Together, let’s get to changing negative habits into productive ones. Let’s all be kind to ourselves as we do, because it’s hard work. The exciting thing is how rewarding it is when we see it through.
You’ve got this.