My Road to Routine: Healthy Habits – Week 1

Written by  in category 
February 7, 2017
sleep, healthy habits

I’m on a road: a road to developing a set of healthy habits.

Routine behaviors – healthy habits – are a great way to establish a set of regular practices that carry benefits to your mental and physical health. The goal is to make these a natural part of your schedule – as natural as brushing your teeth in the morning. At that point, these natural activities – your healthy habits – can provide a regular stream of feel-good hormones (endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin) that keep your mood up, and your mind engaged on positive emotions. Sounds pretty useful.

My five healthy habits

On my journey to destroy depression and anxiety, the five healthy habits I decided to focus on are exercise, sleep, reading, writing, and “quiet time”. Nothing novel here, but some things many find excuses not to do. Well, no more excuses. Time to make health a priority.

  1. Exercise: actively work out at least three (3) days a week in the gym. I signed up for a gym membership over the past weekend, and am determined to get my three days in every week.
  2. Sleep: go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. For me: 8 hours (11 pm to 7 am). I’ve not been on to get enough sleep. Time to change that.
  3. Reading: each day, read from a book with actual pages. Archaic. Doesn’t have to be a lot of reading. I’ve found the best time to read is right before bed. I’ll spend 20 minutes reading, then hit the lights. 
  4. Writing: this is something I do for me: with paper and pen. This may not be an activity you opt in to, but nonetheless, it is one the health habits I have chosen to add to my routine.
  5. “Quiet time”: simply being in the moment. Electronics off, books closed, distractions eliminated. I may light a candle, listen to the mini-waterfall we have in our “zen room”, or listen to soothing music. 15 minutes of quiet time to remind me to slow down, enjoy the now. 

Weekly progress

I’ll be updating you all on a weekly basis with my progress. I may not succeed in all five areas each week, I’ll tell you that up front. I will be honest with everyone, and ask that you all keep me accountable for the goals I have set. This does not mean I am making excuses up front. I am simply acknowledging the reality of the situation and committing to give 100% each week. Here we go!

Week 1 – January 30th to February 5th:

  1. Exercise: Only made it one day. Was sore for five days, which is not an excuse. I simply didn’t prioritize it.
  2. Sleep: While I made a valiant effort, my body doesn’t always choose to play along. Racing thoughts kept me up some nights. Others resulting in sleeping for more hours than I was awake.
  3. Reading: I read 7 out of 7 days. Currently reading Earnest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls. A little less than a quarter of the way done. I’m a slow reader.
  4. Writing: 5 out of 7 days. When my mind succumbed to negative thoughts – the kind that results in a visceral irritation in the deepest part of your gut – I consciously chose to engage in Quiet Time, rather than potentially persist the feelings by writing (this sometimes happens, but not always).
  5. “Quiet time”: Another 7 out of 7. I found myself mostly listening to music, or even gently listening to the hum of the radiator, which exudes a certain warming relaxation.
Overall: Momentum is building. I can see the positive effects in my day-to-day life, my interactions, and my reactions to various situations. I’ve started walking down the road, one foot in front of the other. 

Healthy HabitWeek 1
Exercisesad face
Sleepsad face
Readinghappy face
Writingneutralface
Quiet Timehappy face
OVERALLneutral face

Next week’s plan-for-success

I may not succeed in all five areas each week. What I will do, however, is determine how to continue progressing. If I didn’t meet my goal in one area, my plan will include ways to make sure I succeed the upcoming week. If I was successful in an area, my plan will be to maintain the practices which lead to that success. Each week I will put in my 100%. Even if I slip up one day, it does not mean my entire week is shot. Every tomorrow is a new day to succeed. Every moment is an opportunity to flip your perspective, reset, and recommit.

Ok. So for week 2, my focus is exercise. I know that I can do it. What I cannot do is making excuses. No excuses. For reading, I have found a good approach, reading before bed: one or two chapters. So I plan to keep this up, keep moving it forward. With my focus on exercise for week 2, I don’t plan to neglect the other areas that need improvement. However, I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew. Week 2, I WILL meet my goals for exercise. No excuses.

Join me

This journey on which I have embarked is not intended to be a mere diary of my own progress. I encourage you to take this opportunity to join me on this journey. If you are beginning your own routine to form healthy habits, write a comment below, or send me an email at alex@challengethestorm.org. Together, we’ll do this.

Alex Hanna

Alex Hanna

By day, Alex works as a technologist. By night, he runs Challenge the Storm. Suffering from depression and anxiety, himself, he dedicates every day to help one single person. Something as small as putting a smile on someone else's face may have a bigger impact than you think.

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