As you guys may or may not know, I’m currently doing an 80-day YouTube challenge, where I started up a YouTube channel (hehe, come subscribe) and make 80 videos in 80 days, starting on October 6th and going until Christmas Eve. It was a challenge I set to push myself into the deep end and to prove to myself what I was made of. And BOY, is it working. Whilst I am loving it, it’s taking up a crazy amount of time and pushing me to work harder than I possibly ever have, keeping the blog, my freelance positions, a boyfriend, friends and family, a dog, my appetite and mental sanity spinning. So, to try and help me out, at least on the health and sanity front, I’ve picked up some new good daily habits, to help keep my happy and healthy.
“If you believe you can change, if you make it a habit, the change becomes real.” – Charles Duhigg
Habit #1) Get light and air
The first morning habit I’m starting with is to get some light and air in the morning. Here in the UK Vitamin D deficiency is really common, and can leave you feeling groggy, tired, depressive and getting ill really often. So, I’m trying to make an effort to get some sunlight in the morning.
This too, completely fulfils whatever part of me calls for nature. Being outside is definitely my happy place, it’s where I feel most calm and connected to the world and to myself, as well as just feeling more awake and refreshed. So taking five minutes to sit on the patio or on the windowsill, with an open window, if it’s wet and windy, coffee mug in hand, makes all the difference to my inner peacefulness.
You could also make this part of your commute. When I worked in the city, I’d get off my bus a few stops early just to walk a little and get some air. It always woke me up after a sleepy, early morning bus journey and being surrounded by people and buildings in the open air, gave me that giddy, motivated, bubbly feeling I still get in cities (and I hope I never stop getting).
Habit #2) Move your body
The second habit I’m picking up is to move my body. This doesn’t have to be exercise, as I’m really not a fan of exercising in the evening, it can be as simple as a good stretch or a quick walk. Again, I just find this wakes me up, makes me feel more conscious and aware, helps me connect to my body and gives me a boost before I end up sitting down at my laptop all day.
If you are a morning exercise person, definitely go for it! It’s a really beneficial time to do it. It’s a mood booster, as well as helping you be more productive before you jump into work. Also, if you work late or are tired after work, the morning is your best shot at getting a workout in.
Habit #3) Wear what makes you feel good
My next habit might not be for everyone, but I mean ‘what makes you feel good’ in the most literal sense, as in, not just what makes you look good. If today sweatpants and a hoodie make you feel good – then that’s perfect. If tomorrow you wanna dress up – that’s perfect too. I do sometimes feel drawn to the boost I get from dressing up. Sometimes I do my makeup even though I’m working alone and at home, just because it makes me feel good. It’s like slipping into a certain persona, and I love that, as well as the little creative outlet that is makeup and fashion.
Getting up and dressed (even if it is just trackies), makes me feel (again) so much more awake and ready for the day. If I slump around unshowered, not only do I feel grimy and groggy, but it really puts me off getting anything done and leaves me in this sleepy, grimy limbo. So making sure to get up and put on whatever I’m feeling that day is a must.
Habit #4) Take it slow
The morning is definitely my favourite time of day. I love the sunrise, the birds chirping, the crispness of the air, hot showers and of course, breakfast, by far my favourite meal of the day. I love spending morning leisurely and really getting to enjoy it. Yet, sometimes I feel the looming, ghostly push of the to-dos hanging over my head and I find myself speeding through my morning. So, I’ve decided to make taking it slow a habit.
It’s a shame that my favourite part of the day comes before work. It’s not always that I dread it, often it’s that I’m so motivated to get started, but I still like to keep it separate. Going through my morning slowly and consciously shifting my focus from one thing to another helps me to appreciate each aspect and take that same conscious awareness and gratitude into the rest of my day.
Habit #1) Interact with people
Working alone at home, this one can be a little tricky for me, but it really has made me appreciate how much of a positive difference this can make to your day. I’d encourage you to have as many and as deep a conversation as you can, not necessarily on heavy topics, but skipping the small talk and really engaging with someone. Forget commenting about the weather, ask your colleague or your roomie how they’re doing and what they’re loving right now. Actively engage in a conversation and I promise you’ll come away feeling refreshed and energised.
As for small talk, it definitely has a place. Smile at the people you pass in the street, say good morning, comment to the people waiting for coffee with you. Even these small interactions are sure to put a smile on your face (and on theirs).
Habit #2) Learn something new
This can be tricky if you’re really busy, but this can be a really small action, that if you are busy and spending most of your day just going through the motions, provide some much-needed entertainment for your mind. This doesn’t have to be studios (unless, of course, you want it to be!) it can be a 10 minute YouTube video on something you’re interested on, reading a book (fiction or non-fiction), listening to a podcast, watching a documentary, googling a subject you’re intrigued by and reading a blog post about it.
I do this to keep my mind active with new things and also to give it a break, albeit an active break, from whatever I’m working really hard on. Keeping your mind active with multiple focusses helps to keep you engaged on each more as well as more fulfilled. Not to mention how much you’ll benefit from learning new things, new perspectives, new facts, new ideas.
Habit #3) Get closer to a goal
Yes, I realise your work is probably you getting closer to a goal, but like the first point, having other interests and outlets can help keep your mind active. Plus, can you really say you only have one goal?
Right now, outside of work, yoga is a big focus for me and it really helps me unwind from work. Not just because it’s yoga, but because I’m putting my effort and my strength into something physical and that keeps that part of me fulfilled. And it’s something just for me. Work, at least to me, always feels very outward, whereas hobbies feel very inward and I enjoy connecting with myself in that way. Seeing myself progress is a daily boost (I’m so close to the splits!!) and I love having that alternative outlet, besides work, to focus on.
Habit #4) Take breaks
Oh, I’m so so bad at this. I do have quite good levels of concentration and I can work, uninterrupted for a good amount of time, but I know I work better and feel better when I take more breaks. It seems counter-intuitive, but breaks give you a chance to reset and refresh, and come back to your work with fresh eyes (for all those mistakes you otherwise wouldn’t have seen!).
Picture your concentration like a battery – breaks are the way you top it back up. Try using a time schedule and see what balance of work to break works for you. The Pomodoro technique is the famous one but experiment and bend it to fit your work style and concentration levels.
Breaks also give you a chance to work on other things. Sometimes I emerge from work grinds, having yes, got lots of work done, but forgotten to do the washing, found myself in a hovel of a room, with an empty stomach. You need breaks. Take them.
Habit #1) Take time to reflect
I’m sad to say I’ve completely fallen off the journaling front. Honestly, I think that’s just where I am, personally, that a journal and putting things into words isn’t a fit for the place I’m at on my personal journey, but still – taking time to reflect can be anything. I really enjoy doing tarot as a way to reflect and look ahead, but you can also meditate, talk to someone, or whatever feels best to you as a way to look back on your day.
Reflection makes me feel so peaceful and content before I sleep. I find doing this helps me feel really grateful and appreciate the little things that have gone right in my day, as well a spick up on moods, thoughts and feelings about what’s going on around me that the noise of the world drowns out in the moment. That gives me somewhere to evolve my actions from, deciding to pick up new habits, work on negative habits or mindsets, and spot things that are upsetting/stressing/bothering me.
Habit #2) Invest in something you love
This can be anything. Films, TV, games, exercise, sports, reading, writing, creating, projects, literally anything. And it’s completely up to you, in the moment, to decide what it is. This is your free time and it’s of equal importance to your work and everything else you’ve done in your day, so take it with both hands and enjoy it.
Especially if you don’t really love your job, the evenings are a great time to dedicate to yourself and the things that make you happy in life to make sure that you’re staying afloat and enjoying yourself. By taking this time, you’ll be more refreshed and revitalised tomorrow, you’ll be happier and more content overall and that alone is enough reason to go for it. So schedule it in, because yes, it’s important and non-negotiable enough to be scheduled and make sure you enjoy yourself.
Habit #3) Prep and plan for tomorrow
Take some time in your evening to prepare for tomorrow. Not only will this give you more time in the morning (for some of the habits we spoke about earlier, or for a lay in, the choice is yours), but it also gives me peace of mind, knowing I have everything and that everything’s good to go. This has saved my butt so many times, after many-an-alarm-malfunction or accidentally oversleeping (ps. I’ve still never been late!).
Habit #1) Wind down before bed
This might coincide with doing something you love, if that something is relaxing and helps you wind down, but if it doesn’t, this is your chance to quieten your brain before you head to sleep. Assisted by some dim lighting and banished screens, this can help lull you into a sleepy state before you even hit the pillow.
Habit #2) Get enough sleep
This is so so (soooo soooo) important. The amount of sleep you get can greatly affect other parts of your body too. Sleep is one of the first things to be sacrificed when we get busy, but besides your energy levels, your sleep patterns also affect your appetite, your concentration, your mental and physical strength, and even more. Skipping hours of shut eye is no light matter.
After a bad night’s sleep and a long day of working, you’ll have little energy left for yourself and doing the things you love to do. Cycle in that and you might end up burning out, on top of generally just being exhausted, unfulfilled and unhappy.
Everybody needs slightly different amounts of sleep, so experiment to find what works for you. As often as you can, I’d recommend allowing your body to wake up naturally, to catch up on any lost sleep and to wake you up when your body is ready to be woken.
Habit #3) Record your dreams
This definitely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I used to do this frequently and I got a lot out of it. Not only is it really entertaining to look back on the crazy antics of your dreams, but it can also help you see patterns in your thoughts and feelings before they’re otherwise clear. I found that, particularly in times of a little more stress, I’d see recurring themes in my dreams related to sources of stress. This prompted me to look into the issues, spend some time making them less stressful and dealing with them properly, without my dream pointers, it could have taken a lot longer for me to have put the pieces together.
I record my dreams the second I wake up, rolling over and lazily punching them into the notes on my phone. By the time I’ve fully got out of bed, most of the details have faded and often I’ve forgotten dreams entirely. By the time you go to look back at the record, it’ll feel like a hazy, abstract film plot you were really invested in ~ which is a fun feeling in itself. Not for everyone, but I think it’s a lot of fun.
Habit #4) Dream before you sleep
Lately, I’ve noticed that I haven’t been daydreaming as much. I have a lot of other things to think about and I’d presume that that’s the reason, but I really miss it. I miss coming up with ideas for future plans, getting excited about what I have to do tomorrow. I felt like I was throwing myself from one place to another because I hadn’t really thought about it in advance. So, I’m making a mental note to make an effort to do it as I’m drifting off to sleep.
Without that time daydreaming, I can sometimes go weeks without looking up from my desk – sure, you shouldn’t spend too much time in the future, but I get a lot of my motivation and excitement from looking forward and generally, it’s just something that makes me feel really good so it’s a habit I’d love to pick back up.
There you have it, the simple good daily habits that I’m picking up in my daily routine, during a really busy period. I don’t expect myself to always tick all of these boxes, but to me, it’s more about the pattern and doing them as much as I can that matters, as soon as you go putting a ‘must’ on them, they just become another to do. What good daily habits have you been picking up recently? Or which of these will you try? Let me know in the comments.
Love, Ella-Rose xx