Over the past few months, I’ve been working on being consistent with a few habits to take care of myself throughout quarantine. These are habits that help me avoid “doomscrolling”, get enough sleep, and keep my body moving even when I want to lay on the couch all day.
My struggle with habits is staying consistent and not getting bored. I often talk myself out of being consistent because I think, “Aren’t habits supposed to be fun?” before I’ve even started them.
In reality, habits don’t have to be fun. That’s not to say they should make you miserable, but your habits won’t always feel exciting.
I recently finished the book Atomic Habits by James Clear, and it gave me a lot of perspective on how I can be more consistent with my habits.
Clear says, “Successful people feel the same lack of motivation as everyone else. The difference is that they still find a way to show up despite the feelings of boredom.”
This quote made me realize that boredom is okay. Once you push past the thoughts that tell you it’s going to be hard, it’s often not as bad as you imagined.
1. Go outside first thing in the morning
Getting sunshine in the morning can help balance your body’s internal clock and make it easier to fall asleep at night, according to SleepFoundation.org. I go for a walk in the afternoon almost every day, but I’ve recently started walking in the morning a few days a week
2. Follow a work-start ritual
Something I learned from Atomic Habits is that the easiest way to get into a habit is to make the first two minutes easy. I try to start my workday by writing, but that often feels daunting as the first step in my routine. What’s easy is making a cup of tea, lighting a candle, and putting on a calm playlist.
3. Avoid caffeine after 10 am
Did you know it can take 5-6 hours for half of the caffeine you consume to leave your system? That means if you drink a cup of coffee at 1 pm, it’s probably still going to be in your system if you try to go to sleep at 10 pm. These days, I’ve been drinking green tea with breakfast and then having a cup of English breakfast tea around 9:45 am. I pretty much only drink caffeine-free tea after that.
4. Keep work and self-care spaces separate
It’s been really tempting to work from the couch when I’m at home all day, but it wreaks havoc on my back. Because of that, I’ve made sure I start my workday from my desk. If I want to move to the couch later in the day, that’s fine, but my new rule is that I can’t start the day from the couch.
5. Wind-down without screens an hour before bed
A habit I’ve implemented after reading the book The Power of When is creating a wind-down ritual at 10:30 pm. I *try* to spend the last hour without screens, but it usually turns into the last 30 minutes before bed.
Author Michael Breus recommends spending the first 20 minutes of your wind-down routine getting ready for tomorrow, the next 20 minutes for hygiene habits like brushing your teeth, and the last 20 minutes for a calming habit like reading, stretching, or meditating. This structure is something I often forget to do, but I like the breakdown of the wind-down hour so I thought I’d share it.