Groundwork for personal change
Making positive personal changes can be HARD!! But by doing a little groundwork, creating a strong foundation, and putting support mechanisms in place, we can make it easier. Here's an example of a personal challenge I was struggling with and how I approached it. Part of loving and caring for myself means paying attention to how I am nourishing my body and energy level. I found myself in a place where I was neglecting these aspects. I wasn't exercising or eating well and as a result, I often felt "icky" and sluggish. I knew better than to try to integrate two new habits at once, so I chose one to focus on first.
I decided to address the exercise habits first, because 1) I knew that would be easier than addressing my eating habits, 2) I had identified a coach and an accountability group to help me get going and build consistency, and 3) in general, when I'm consistently working out, I tend to eat better overall. So establishing a workout habit first would actually help and support the eating habits later.
For the first 5 weeks of staying #safeathome I focused on getting a daily workout regimen in place. Five weeks later I am still doing it and am seeing changes in my body. Success!! Now that that habit has been established, I'm ready to start focusing on my eating habits too. I have been wanting to eat healthier for quite some time, but am an emotional/stress eater, so this is often a challenge for me. I know from my past struggles with this, that I will need extra support to accomplish this goal.
First, I got clear on WHY I want to eat better. Yeah, I'd love to lose a few pounds and feel better about the way my body LOOKS. But that's not the deepest, most motivating factor for me. If it was, I'd already be doing it. As part of my overall intentions to love and nourish myself, I want to make better choices that support this intention in all areas of my life. So my deepest WHY in relation to my eating habits is to better love and nourish my body through food choices that give me positive energy and contribute to my long-term health and wellbeing.
I chose the nutritional lifestyle (not diet) I want to follow: mostly whole vegan foods, organic when possible. For me, this means fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds and vegan protein shakes. No processed soy/meat or cheese replacements and no processed sugar. I chose this lifestyle because I've eaten this way in the past and I know that it makes me and my body feel good.
Then I set my specific goal: To choose whole, healthy vegan foods for at least 31 days in a row.
To help me establish this habit and achieve my goal, I created a daily tracking chart. It's nothing fancy, just hand drawn. I included my why and my goal at the top and a summary of the food choices I want to make along the side. I hung it on my fridge and at the end of each day, I will put an X to mark the days I stuck to my plan. I hope to fill this chart with Xs!
What personal intentions or goals have you been struggling to achieve? Consider why this goal matters to you, the specifics of what you're wanting to implement, and then choose a specific goal to focus on. What foundation, support, or tools can you put in place to help you achieve your goal?
Almost four weeks into social distancing and self-isolation and I need a haircut. Badly. But, I did something a little different today. I shaved, got dressed, AND applied makeup! That's the first time those three things have all happened on the same day in over 3 weeks! Most days I work in sweats because they are comfortable. And let's be real, I've not had a need for shaving or makeup. We're in unprecedented times here and there's no ONE right way to do this whole stay-at-home thing. We're each experiencing different emotions, focusing on different things, and spending our time in different ways. What's right for one may not be right for another.
We all handle stress differently, too. Some of us appreciate humor to help get us through, some of us need to lean on our friends, some just want to be left alone to process in whatever way works for us. And some of us may need all three of those at different times or in different quantities, or need something completely different.
I'll repeat... there is no right or wrong way to experience this situation.
For me and where I am, at this point in my journey, my mission is to do my best to stay focused on my personal wellbeing and spiritual growth path, to cultivate positive emotions such as gratitude and joy for myself and others, and to stay healthy and be fully present for my daughter. In order to do those things, I can't get sucked up into the fear or worry or anxiousness. YES, I do feel it. I'm not avoiding the reality of the situation. I certainly have moments when I experience fear or sadness or loneliness. Last week when I had to make a DIY mask for my daughter, just so we could go outside for 30 minutes, I felt it. Every time I go to the grocery store, I feel it. When I hear stories from people living in the hardest hit areas, I feel it.
I feel the feels when they arise.... I allow myself time and space to be sad or scared or angry, or whatever other emotion is coming to my awareness. But, I choose not to camp out there. Staying there too long, for me, isn't productive. I bring my attention back to the present... to what is in front of me right now. I focus on what I CAN take action on, and I move forward.
What has helped me stay grounded the last few weeks has been bringing more attention to my wellbeing and self-care. I have been exercising at home, getting out for walks when I can, and trying to eat (mostly) healthy foods. Sometimes I crank music all day and have solo dance parties. Other times I enjoy total silence. I spend a little time staying connected with friends via text and Zoom, and spend a LOT of time alone in my sacred space, journaling and meditating. I do what I feel I most need in that moment.
I've been reevaluating my priorities and the true essentials in my life. I've taken this opportunity to let go of some unhealthy habits, unproductive patterns, and even a relationship that no longer fit. I've continued learning more about myself and exploring what kind of life I want to create for myself and my daughter.
These are the things that work for me. But what matters is that YOU do what works for YOU. If you could use a little help focusing on any of this for yourself, reach out. I'm here and able to offer support. I can help you find YOUR path forward.