This is a bit of a long one today, apologies for that. Today I’m sharing THREE THINGS I’VE CHANGED IN 2017 THAT HELPED ME FEEL BETTER and THREE PODCASTS THAT INSPIRE ME.
In 2016 I went through a real rough patch with my mental health. I was really lucky that I had a couple very supportive and understanding people in my life. It’s a big reason I’m here writing this now. My depression and anxiety were the worst they had been in as long as I could remember. Something had to give. For my own reasons, I didn’t want to take medicine. I decided I needed to change things myself. There was a lot about my life I wasn’t happy with. I could notice that these things were all having negative effects on my mental health. Here are three things I decided to change:
- FITNESS: I had long been out of a good fitness routine by the time I found myself at my lowest. Although I knew that when I went cycling it made me feel better, when my anxiety is really bad getting on my bike is the last thing I can do. I would convince myself that I was going to die. There was no question. I would be shaking and nervous. My brain buzzed. I could not bring myself to get on to my bicycle even though I knew how good it would make me feel. Nor could I remind myself of that then. I “didn’t have the time” to go to the gym. Until I made time: I made the time to exercise because I needed to feel better. I carved out time in my diary a few days a week to exercise. To start, I set a realistic goal of 30 minutes two or three times a week. I soon naturally increased the time I spent working out and felt great for it. Sure, there are days when it feels like a chore (I have ways I combat this and make sure I go). Once I’ve done it I have never regretted it. Even just something as simple as a 15 minute walk a few times a week can give you a little buzz to start making you feel better. Just make it work for YOU.
- SLEEPING: I was staying up late, working til 3am sometimes, having awful nights of sleep and relying on sleeping aids to help me get a night of rest. I’d wake the next day feeling so cloudy and lethargic so I’d drink a lot of coffee to try feel better. I decided I was going to start having a bedtime. As an adult that might feel a bit weird and it took me a while to get used to it. Now I wouldn’t change it - I love my new routine. For the last two hours of my day I am off screens – no phone and no laptop. An hour before I want to sleep, I brush my teeth and get into bed. For 5 or 10 minutes I reflect on my three good things for the day and write them down in my journal. Then I read. I get to indulge in reading each night – again, something for ages I “didn’t have time for” but something small which makes a massive change to how I feel. My lights go out and I sleep soundly, all through the night. I don’t have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep anymore. At 5am I wake up feeling rested, often without an alarm and with no coffee! I spend the first hour of my day – again, not looking at a screen for the first hour of my day – journaling. I don’t write anything special, I write 2 or 3 pages of whatever is in my head. It helps me problem solve and gives me lots of ideas for where to take my day. Whatever comes into my head, I write it down. It gets it out of my brain and onto paper so it’s not taking up space in my head. I find this massively increases my focus throughout the day.
- PLANNING and PRODUCTIVITY: I’ve often found myself writing out to do lists that go on and on and on and finishing a day without having crossed off even half of the things on my list. It isn’t very motivating. It never left me feeling like I had had a good day at work. I had simply promised myself I would get done a list of things in one day that would fill a week and each of the things on the list had about 10 other things that needed to be completed in order to complete that item. RIDICULOUS! The list never improved and neither did my motivation. This year I’ve been working differently. I have a folder that keeps my goals for the year. Within each goal in the folder are the projects that I have to complete to reach those goals and within each of those are the tasks I have to do to complete the projects. See where I’m going with this? I still have my lists but they are divided up into goals. They are SMART now. They are Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Realistic, and Time bound. There are so many different versions of that acronym but that’s the one I like best. Each day in my planner (of which I also have a custom printed planner sheet with my workouts, nutrition tracker, deadlines, weekly jobs, mental health measuring tool, and more) I have a list of tasks that I will do in the different days. Each task that I put in to the planner relates back to one of the projects for one of the goals. It may sound complicated but it is a beautiful system that has increased my productivity by what feels like 90%! This year I’ve also drawn out a visual aid to see how I’m tracking against all my goals. It really helps me to keep this all on paper rather than hidden away in a spreadsheet (I do also have it all in spreadsheet form but I find having it shown graphically means I can always look at it and be reminded that what I’m doing is helping.
What are three things you’d like to change?
THREE PODCASTS THAT INSPIRE ME:
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