10 Important Things
There are things that impact my well-being directly. They are habits that grouped together can become rituals. If I stop doing one of those things, I start to feel off. My anxiety creeps in, I start to feel overwhelmed, I worry too much, my body hurts, I can’t have a good night’s sleep. Some of them are part of my daily habits, others are weekly or monthly habits. I get the best results when I do them regularly.
These are 10 important things I can’t leave without:
Reading books + Book Club: I once wrote about the reasons I’m a reader. I enjoy it because it helps me deal with my busy mind. I’m always having ideas, questions, worries and plans. Reading works like a break: I get away from it all and dive into a different world, so it feels calming to me. It’s also a good concentration exercise. And combining reading with a Book Club makes it even more fun. I get a chance to discuss ideas with other people in a more structured/themed way. I read daily.
Sleeping 7-8 hours a day: I need my sleep. Period. I aim for going to bed at 9:45pm and waking up at 5:15am. It can vary +/– 15 minutes. But I try to keep my sleep routine within this range. I never go to be after 10pm, and if I do I know I’ll be tired and cranky the next day.
Exercise Daily / Yoga: I’ve had a history of debilitating back pain throughout my adult life. It was only after I started exercising regularly, for years, that I became pain free. I’ve learned my lesson: I need to move! So I have a mandatory daily routine: I stretch in the morning. I have a series of stretches I do everyday, no matter what. Then I try to combine it with a yoga session or a series of core strengthening exercises. I usually spend 20 minutes in the morning with this routine everyday. Whenever I can, I add walking, running, cycling, a longer yoga session in the evenings and weekends.
Meditating every morning: I do a minimum of 10 minutes and combine it with my morning exercise, so it has become a ritual. Sometimes if I’m feeling overwhelmed later in the day I will add in another meditation session in the evening/before bed.
Eating healthy and with care due to my gut problems: I have acid reflux and gastritis. It started after I joined the work force, so I think work stress had something to do with it. Anyway, I keep a restricted diet: no coffee, no carbonated drinks of any kind, no alcohol, no acidic foods, no spicy foods, low carbs, restrict lactose and eating in regular intervals. I know that when I indulge in one of those restrictions, my acid reflux flares up, so I home cook my own meals as much as I can and avoid eating out.
Writing: I have a private journal and this blog. Writing gives me time for reflection and gratitude. It helps me clear my thoughts, calm my mind and understand my feelings. I’ve been trying to write daily (either on my private journal or my blog) and this habit seems to be the hardest to keep every day. I love it after I’m done but lately just getting started has been a struggle. I’m working on it.
Having alone time: I’m an introvert so I need alone time once in a while. Reading a book qualifies as alone time to me, but also does listening to music or just sitting down with a cup of tea looking out a window. I need alone time more than ever after a work day with too many meetings, for example. Or even after a Book Club meeting, as much as I enjoy it, I need to recharge for the next couple days. So I try to space out social events.
Listening to music: I remember a time when I would lay down in my bed and listen to a full album, non-stop, and would just look at the ceiling or close my eyes enjoying the music. Sometimes the album told a story, sometimes it made me cry or smile. This was before music streaming and AI generated playlists. I still listen to music, mostly while I’m cooking, exercising, working on something that requires concentration or cleaning the house. It’s usually rock, heavy metal and, lately, folk metal. I have a couple playlists I created myself. It’s rare for me to listen to a full album as I used to. That’s something I’ll start doing more.
Going for walks: I think I underestimated the benefits of a long walk before the COVID-19 pandemic. With the COVID lockdowns, I started to regularly go out for a walk outdoors, since it was the only activity outside I could do safely. My partner joined me, so walking has become our “together-alone” time. It can either be around our neighborhood, in a park, a trail, by the river, doesn’t matter. But walking regularly is a great way to exercise and calm the mind. I prefer not to listen to music or podcasts or anything while walking.
Touch base with family/friends: I’m an immigrant living in a country 10,000 km away from my homeland. It’s easy to feel alone and loose touch with loved ones because of the distance. Since I left Facebook/Instagram, I don’t get any updates or news from people over seas. I keep in touch with friends with messenger groups and I have regular scheduled video calls sessions with my family. Even though the pandemic made it harder to visit them in person, touching base with them regularly makes all the difference, even if it is virtual.
I didn’t know these things were important to me. It took me years and a lot of trial and error to understand the things that keep me a happy human being. Have you ever thought about it?
My favorite place in the morning: where my day starts
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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.