My Road to Routine: Healthy Habits – Week 4

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February 27, 2017
pebble stack, healthy habits, balance

I’m on a road: a road to developing a set of healthy habits. And as you read in week 3, this is an uphill battle to which I commit myself. I am finding, however, that I am being kinder to myself as I go along the journey – something we all can do a little more of (in my ever-so-humble opinion).

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.

Weekly progress

Three weeks down. Are you following along? Let’s keep it going!

If you ever want a full report-out of your results, let me know and I’ll compile for you.

Week 4 – February 20h to February 26th:

Exercise

Three weeks in a row and finally starting to feel that the slow gains in my stamina. Strength is slowly returning, and I expect progress to be steady. The biggest thing I am happy about is that my stamina is improving, allowing me to put in a full workout. Really excited about this!

Sleep

Doing much better with this. The focus is definitely helping. I was able to wake up at a consistent hour most days, which is a huge improvement over the prior weeks. Trending upward!

Reading

Still doing good, here. As I intended, I completed For Whom the Bell Tolls and have moved onto Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I’m pretty sure I did read this one in high school (in its entirety, too!). This one feels like it will go quicker than the last. Already about 25% through and frightened by the strange “utopia” it describes.

Writing

I didn’t write all seven days, but I still consider the week a success. I wrote when I was inspired to write, I didn’t force anything. It just came when it came, and I wrote when it came. That’s all I truly ask for with writing, anyway. I would like to be more “inspired” to write, but sometimes, the juices don’t flow. I can’t judge myself for not having material to write down. What I can do, however, is be ready when they do.

Quiet Time

Started to struggle a little bit this week with this one. I stopped paying as much attention to the needed devotion to quiet time, and instead, assumed it would come without any effort. Not the case. So in short, it slipped a little, bit didn’t fall too far. Calling this one “at risk” so that I keep my focus on it in Week 5. 

OVERALL

Onwards and upwards! Keeping with an optimistic outlook, I boldly step forward from another successful week of healthy habits. This week I was working on my sleep: staying intent on getting out of bed when you plan. Resist the snooze! I know it’s possible to set your alarm to not allow it, but let’s be real, that can be tough to do. So what I found as a useful tool is something called The Rock Clock. Your first instincts are well-informed. Yes, this is an alarm clock brought to you by none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. His voice comes through in a myriad of options to not-so-gently wake you from your cozy night-time slumber. My personal favorite? “Ring Ring”. Simple, yet effective. I’ll let you download it to check out all the options. Point being, The Rock doesn’t offer any snooze button. Go figure!

Healthy HabitWeek 1Week 2Week 3Week 4
Exercisesad facehappy facehappy facehappy face
Sleepsad facesad faceneutral faceneutral face
Readinghappy facehappy facehappy facehappy face
Writingneutralfacehappy facehappy facehappy face
Quiet Timehappy facehappy facehappy faceneutral face
OVERALLneutral faceneutral facehappy facehappy face

 

Moonlight creeps in through a nearby window,
Sneaking around the room.
Playing tricks, casting shadows,
Sleep shall not come soon.

I watch shadowy figures
Dance and sing.
This play – so rousing –
Such joy it brings;
Though, round-and-round,
Tangling
    My mind into jumbled ruin.

The floor, the walls,
You leave no trace.
Shadowy figures
Vanish into space.
The room – empty –
Figures replaced,
By the echoes of moonlight
    standing in place.

~A. Hanna

This poem, to me, speaks to the romanticism of sleepless nights. Written at 3 AM on Sunday night, sleep was evading me and it was as if I was dancing with the moonlight. Rather, it was if I was watching a play being put on by the moonlight, dancing and swaying across the room.   It has a clear meaning to me, but the fun in poetry is the meaning which others find in it. Send your thoughts on what it means to you here. I would love to hear what you think.

Next week’s plan-for-success

Going into Week 5, I turn my focus back to quiet time. I started to take it for granted, and it slipped a few days. Not catastrophically so, but a bit.  I plan to add to this to my evening routine. Along with reading before bed, I plan to add 15 minutes of quiet time before I start reading: to give my mind and body a chance to unwind.

My five healthy habits: recap

Here is a recap of 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, 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. 

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.

Join me

If you’re already following along, be sure to log your progress:

If you ever want a full report-out of your results, let me know and I’ll compile for you.

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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