Tuesday, 15 August 2017

From Goal to Habits: My Mental Health

Have courage and be kind

I'm starting with my mental health on purpose. I feel like, having struggled a little over the past few years, that your mental health is the key to overall well-being. 

Your mindset can completely alter the way you face the day. 

When I returned to work (after a four year break) I had a complete confidence crisis. A few things didn't go well, and my confidence crashed. 

The funny thing about confidence is that once you lose it, everything seems to go wrong. You have to re-discover that confidence in order to re-set the balance and make positive changes. 

The things that happen to you; the words spoken to you; even the music you listened to during the day can have a drastic effect on your mood, and the way you respond to the world around you. 

This has been the hardest section to break down into habits, because those habits are going to be the hardest to form and maintain. 

I've decided to be a little tough on myself though, and demand more than I think I'm capable of. Improving my health will mean being less lazy, not falling back on crutches, and being disciplined in an already full life. 

So, here are the habits I want to set for myself over the next few months:

To be in bed by 8pm on two nights per week (aiming for Sunday and one other night;

I'm really bad at just faffing about on the computer, or watching some mindless drivel on TV and not actually getting off my backside and trudging up the stairs for bed. 

Mostly this is because I'm tired and cannot be bothered to move. So, going to bed early ought to help me not feel quite so tired, and hopefully mean I spend less time faffing about when I could be doing things which make a difference to my health. 

To wash and blow-dry my hair once per week (Friday?)

I'm putting suggested days in here, because I know if it's not sent into a calendar type arrangement, things will just slide! 

Recently I've been really busy, and after I've been to CrossFit, I've just been washing my hair and leaving it to dry by itself... causing a wavy/frizzy do which doesn't really suit my layered hairstyle. 

So, firstly I'm growing out my layers, so that on the days when my hair can't be blow-dried, it doesn't look quite so odd (and I can get away with not having my hair cut for four months at a time!). 

Secondly, I feel so much more me when me hair is blow dried. I have a lot of very thick hair, so it takes me a fair amount of time, but  it really does make me feel much more pulled together. So I'm going to make the effort to look after my hair a little more often. 

Epsom Salt Baths twice a week

I LOVE a good bubble bath.

These days I much prefer baths over showers, as they feel a little more relaxing, even if I'm only actually in the bath for 7 minutes (I timed it this morning) before one of the kids needs my assistance. 

I'm not sure how effective Epsom Salts are at "Detoxing", but as you are supposed to stay in them for 20 minutes or so, that should give me long enough to actually relax. 

I may even make more use of my essential oils that I have been neglecting of late!

Guided Meditation three times per week

The older I get, the more I'm drawn to the idea of meditation and yoga and the whole mind/body balance concept. 

I'm really not great at shutting out errant thoughts though, so the idea of me taking up meditation by myself and spending some time NOT thinking about all the things I have to do, doesn't sound likely to succeed. 

So I'm going to use a guided meditation app. I'm going with the Insight Timer app which was recommended by Nicola Avery from Planning with Kids. 

Hopefully this can tie in with the epsom salt baths, so I can kill two birds with one stone. After all, a hot relaxing bath seems to be the perfect time to do some guided meditation! 

To use my iPhone for only an hour a day, and to put it away for the night at 8pm

This is going to be the toughest one for me. 

I'm the worst person for randomly searching for things on the internet (like holiday ideas for 2020) and scrolling through Facebook. 

I regularly delete apps in an attempt to stop using them, but eventually they find their way back on there. 

I definitely hide behind my phone when I'm tired and grumpy. I know that using my phone too much makes the kids feel like I'm not paying enough attention to them (which I'm not!) and they are much better behaved when my phone is nowhere to be seen. 

Take an evening walk with the kids whenever things are stressful

I've seen it written in so many places that the best thing to do with kids is to get outside. 

I know myself that being able to get out of the house and just walk has a really positive effect on both my mood and the kids. 

I have the best conversations with the kids when we are in the car, or when we are walking. I actually prefer to head out on walks with no playgrounds in sight as for some reason it brings out the good moods and engaging conversation in the entire family. 

So on those days when we've been in the house too long, I'm going to get out of the house after dinner, for a short evening stroll (weather permitting). 

Gratitude Diary

When you are in a bit of a funk, or just plain got out of bed on the wrong side, it's so easy to forget how lucky you are. 

Yes, I do know there are starving kids in Africa and women being trafficked as sex slaves, but when you are having a bad day, it can be hard to remind yourself of how good you have it. 

Plus, I love a good wallow in self pity, even though it does me no good whatsoever! 

So I'm going to try to write down 5 things that I am grateful for each evening. 

I might not do this every day, but if I can do it 3-4 times a week I think it will make a real difference. 

Use the computer once per week

This is another one which will be hard to give up. 

Much as I love my iPhone, I hate writing emails without a keyboard and sometimes you just need a bigger screen. 

This is also going to be difficult over the next few months as we re-mortgage the house and prepare for the next round of home improvements, but I'm sticking it on here anyway. 

It might take a while to get to this place, but as long as I can see the intention, and have to reflect on whether I've achieved it, it will remind me that this is a goal that I haven't yet completed. 

Keep every other weekend free for our family

This is massively easier said than done, given both the kids now have much better social lives than we do! 

For me, it's important that we have some time and space to do things as a family, and to keep on top of the house and family life. We all need space to breathe, and there isn't much room to do everything during the week. 

So I'm going to aim to keep some weekends free. So if we travel one weekend, the weekends on either side should keep us at home, with no weekend guests, so we can concentrate on homework and kids birthday parties and leisurely walks and time in each others company. 

Phew, that looks like A LOT of habits to form. Funnily, I feel better for having written it out! 

What habits do you need to form, and what is putting you off doing it?