I’m a big believer in change through habits. The accumulation of applying small changes to my life, whether it’s adding a new habit or removing a bad one, has been truly life-changing. I started consciously refining my habits at the beginning of quarantine, and here are some that I have found helpful and continue to maintain.
- Drinking two cups of water in the morning (before eating).
We are all dehydrated after sleeping, and it feels good to start the day by replenishing and rejuvenating my body.
- Making my bed in the morning.
Another part of my morning routine that I love. Not only does it make my room look neater, but it’s a great task to do first thing in the morning to get my body moving and accustomed to being awake.
- Eating with no distractions.
When I eat, there is no phone or laptop in sight. Being present while eating helps me keep track of how much I’m consuming, and it also allows me to completely enjoy my food instead of shoveling down my meal like a gremlin as I watch Netflix.
- Taking a walk outside.
I like to take a short walk sometime during the day, either in the morning or after dinner. Being present with nature and taking a moment to gather myself helps me recenter and continue my day with a clear mind. Recently, due to the smoke and poor air quality in NorCal, I have not been able to go on my walks, but it just makes me more appreciative when blue skies do appear.
- Practicing gratitude every night.
I keep a gratitude journal because I like to write my thoughts down so I can look back on what made me happy that day. Recalling what I am grateful for as part of my daily routine helps tie the entire day together and get my mind ready for the next.
- Stretching before bed.
So many people underestimate the power that simple stretches hold.
- Setting realistic daily goals.
Having a task list keeps me organized and on track, and being able to cross everything off at the end of the day is extremely satisfying and fulfilling. I write down my goals the night before because it helps get me mentally prepared for the next day.
- Not looking at my phone first thing in the morning.
If you only decide to adopt one idea from this article, please let it be this one. You can go 30 minutes in the morning without checking your notifications, I promise. Being off my phone for the first few hours of my day has revolutionized my health and my mood.
- Getting up without snoozing my alarm.
When my alarm goes off, I get up right away, not giving my brain the time to rationalize why I should stay in bed for another 2, 10, or 30 minutes. Once I get up and start moving, my mind and body will typically wake up.
- Adopting the mini day concept.
I live two days within each 24 hour time period. Day 1 starts at 8 am and ends at 2 pm, and day 2 starts at 2 pm and ends at 8 pm. Living by mini days keeps my mind refreshed because I am most productive in short bursts.
From 8–2, I typically work virtually at my part-time job, do some school work, and go to my classes. At 2 pm, I make tea or snack on some fruit, using my break to reflect and recenter, then start my next day fresh at around 2:30. After another class and some more school work, I exercise, shower, and eat dinner.
Once 8 pm comes, I allow myself to unwind completely, usually by watching Netflix, painting, or playing Among Us with friends. There will be days when I will start an assignment at 7 and be in “flow state,” so I allow myself to work past the soft 8 pm deadline. On other days, I’m exhausted by 7, so I will do laundry, wash the dishes, or take on some other productive task until 8 pm. These mini days help me stay diligent and focused, and since the days are so short, I value my time more and want to make the most out of each day.
I keep a journal (aside from my gratitude journal) to write down my everyday random thoughts. Being able to exercise control over my emotions is one of my greatest goals, and in order to do so, I need some sort of release. Writing down my thoughts has proven to be extremely cathartic, and it’s also a great tool to track progress on personal growth.
- Checking my bank account every day.
I used to never keep track of my finances. Suddenly, I’d check my bank account and have $8 for the next 3 days. By checking my bank account balance each day, I can keep myself accountable and prevent overspending.
- Spending less time on social media.
About a month ago, I deleted Snapchat and Instagram. Now, I’m accustomed to not having these apps on my phone, and I don’t feel the need to re-download them anymore. I don’t feel the need to send a Snapchat of my face every day, nor do I have any urge to scroll through my Instagram timeline. For the first time, I’m finally figuring out who I am when I’m not being influenced by social media.
2020 has been a wild ride, but being quarantined presented a valuable opportunity for me to embark on a journey of personal growth, self-love, and self-discovery. I have grown so much in the past year, but it was not a result of any drastic changes. Implementing these habits over the course of the past few months has helped me feel more whole, content, and at peace with myself.