I used to pride myself on being healthy, fit, and on top of my game. I would jump out of bed at 4:50am without the alarm and be out the door by 5am for a run. Then I would go home for a mindfulness exercise followed by a learning activity – reading, listening, or watching something to challenge my thinking. While I cared about people who were languishing and stuck in an unhealthy rut, I took pride in my commitment to well-being and was perhaps lacking in empathy.
I followed this routine for a long time, it felt great. I loved getting up in the morning and was energized for the day and all that it had to offer. I was more efficient and effective in my work too, thanks to my healthy routine and habits.
How Easily Bad Habits Creep In
Then little things started to change. Not all at once… but one thing after another started to creep in, without me noticing.
Work was busy and, because I was working longer hours, I started staying up a little later. Then winter came and it got colder overnight and a whole lot darker, making it less enticing to jump out of bed before the alarm clock. I started to say yes to the occasional Macca’s and KFC with my son and treated myself to a couple of glasses of wine to get through COVID.
Then something happened that really threw me out of my routine.
I got the flu, followed by a flare up of my gastric issues and before long, I was in a world of pain and lethargy. I believe in slowing down when your body tells you it needs it, so I gave myself permission to recover. I took a couple of days off, slept a lot, and slowed right down.
Despite all my good intentions, when it was time to get back to my routine, I really struggled.
Finding My Way Back To Well-Being
Within a matter of days, my sleep patterns changed and my ability to manage and regulate my mood started to diminish. Little things that wouldn’t have mattered before really started to bug me and I even started to doubt myself in areas I wouldn’t have thought twice about before.
Making a few unhealthy choices not only made me sick, but it also took me out of my healthy routines. Looking back, I’m actually shocked at how little time it took to get out of healthy habits into unhealthy ones.
I knew something had to change but I was experiencing a daily battle between my intentions and my inner sloth. I knew what I should be doing but couldn’t shake the negative thinking and apathy.
I much preferred the old me and wanted deeply to get back there. But how?
I decided to hit the reset button. It wasn’t easy but it looked something like this.
First, I recognised that things weren’t right, and it was time to do CPR on my wellbeing from a physical, emotional, and mental point of view.
I Made Time For Journaling
I called timeout on myself and began by journaling my thoughts and feelings. I asked myself, what am I feeling in this current state? I noticed the feelings of self-judgement thinking: “I’m better than this.” Then there was the disappointment and frustration of not doing what I should do and the total lack of energy my unhealthy habits were inflicting on me.
I Took Time For Reflection
I then started to identify the negative impact my choices were having on my thoughts and feelings, for example: “I’m feeling irritable because I didn’t sleep well”, “I’m feeling lethargic because I drank too much.”
I Shifted My Mindset
I then told myself the most important thing: “This is totally okay, but it’s not who I am anymore.” I accepted I can’t change what I’ve done but I can change what I decide to do from now on. Once I stopped criticising myself, I could start to set goals for the future. I made the mindset shift from “this is all too hard” to “this is okay, and I can do this.”
Also, I did a quick exercise to create a case for change. I began with a list of concerns and things I wanted to stop, then a list of benefits and aspirations. This helped me focus in on what I wanted to move away from and move towards.
I also set aside 10 minutes each morning for a mindfulness exercise. A practice that has always given me energy and clarity. It was very helpful to get out of my negative mindset and allow my thoughts to slow down, leaving the past behind me.
Getting clear on this gave me some motivation for the change, so I set a plan to help me get into action. I set some small achievable goals and rewarded myself for achieving them (healthy rewards, even as simple as thanking myself).
That lead me to microbreaks. Making sure I took short breaks throughout the day to re-energize and reset my intention for what was to come.
I found that implementing habits (or in this case re-implementing) was rewarding in itself. The more achievable I made the goals, the easier it was to create new habits. Within a week, I added further small goals:
- To be in bed by 9:30pm again
- To practice daily gratitude
- Getting at least 20 minutes of exercise each day
- Enjoy cooking some fresh foods
- Limiting my alcohol intake to one glass a week.
On reflection, this challenging time has given me a new level of empathy for people who have struggled to find the motivation to get unstuck and into action.
It wasn’t easy, in fact it took a lot of effort and commitment to get started and it required willpower to keep going – especially during lockdown. It was good to notice that the benefits were immediate, and I have noticed a big difference in my physical, mental, and emotional health. I’m now much kinder to myself and have found my mojo again.
I’m interested to hear your battle story between your well-meaning and well-being. How has your life changed? What did you do to get started?