Diary 002 | New Habits
For much of February, I took a step back. I think I needed a little time to regroup in a month where nothing very urgent was happening, either with work or study, before the end of term madness started up again. I've spent a lot of time recently thinking about new healthy or helpful habits that I want to form to make life easier and more productive. Since I moved back home to London, I've already instigated a few things. I'm trying to introduce them slowly so they're more sustainable long-term. I've tried to be much neater by just picking up after myself as I go, and by and large this has been pretty successful. Seeing as I'm working from home a lot more, a clear space is kind of a necessity, and it is nice after a long day to go to sleep in a room that doesn't resemble a pigsty. There's something so innately satisfying about it - I think I must be getting old? I started a bullet journal at around the same time. I've experimented with so many diaries over the years, and this is really the only one that has properly worked for me, mostly because it is completely flexible and customisable. Oh, and I also started drinking more water at the start of the year, after I bought a Camelbak Eddy bottle. I carry this thing around the house with me and fill it up regularly.
With this in mind, I thought I'd write a list of the other new habits that I'm working on currently, and maybe we can do some of them together.
The dreaded gym.
Like being consistently neat, the concept of the gym is kind of against my core personality. I never liked sports much as a kid, I think partly because most of what we were made to do was team-oriented, and I never wanted to be the one to let down my team (that guilt is real, guys). Me being a perfectionist, this meant if I didn't try at all I couldn't be blamed; I was fundamentally ~not sporty~. Plus, I grew up here in the UK and it's cold most of the school year and I'm not one to be intentionally uncomfortable. When I got the opportunity to do more individual (inside) things, like dance (not all dance is individual, but the classes I took were not based significantly on group work), I always enjoyed them more. Anyway, because of this, I've never been in the habit of exercising, and it is so incredibly hard to start doing it regularly when you've never been accustomed to it. Hence why all my previous attempts at the gym have failed; I'd always find I was wasting my time wandering aimlessly around the gym, when I could have been in the library, or just enjoying some downtime.
However, I think this time it's going to stick. I know I mentioned in my last diary blogpost that the plan was to start a proper regime, and since then I've been going regularly. I think I'm going to write about this more in a separate blog post if you are interested (let me know in the comments!), but a personal training session once a week has revolutionised how confident and comfortable I feel in the gym, and given me lots of new things to try that are tailored to what I need and what I prefer. I had asthma as a child - and it recently flared up again, hooray! - which means that me and cardio never really got on, so I've been doing a lot of weight training and I find it satisfying and surprisingly doable. I'm not saying you can't do cardio with asthma by the way, just that I always found it that little bit more uncomfortable. However, I know that personal training and gym memberships can be really expensive, so this isn't a solution for everyone. Youtube has an absolute abundance (a possibly overwhelming abundance) of fitness videos that require little to no equipment that you can follow along, and you can buy cheap bits of equipment on Amazon if you're looking to step up your regime.
Currently, I'm managing to make it to the gym four times a week, and I'm finally starting to enjoy it. It takes me out of my head for an hour and stops me from worrying about work (this doesn't usually happen unless I'm asleep - and more often than not I'm dreaming about it). It’s a productive thing to do which doesn't require my brain which is kind of amazing, and I can just concentrate on making my body stronger and fitter. Long may it continue!
Not picking my skin
I've talked many, many times about being a skin picker, which is something I tend to do when I'm stressed or anxious. I get up close in the mirror and look for blemishes that no one else could possibly notice to squeeze, pick and pop. In the past couple of weeks, I've put myself on a complete ban, unless the blemish has a significant whitehead. Honestly, my skin looks so much more even-toned and clear for it, and I feel better that I'm not creating more problems for myself. I have been tempted a couple times, so fingers crossed I can keep it up.
Getting up early
This one is going to be a tricky one for me, having always been more of a night-owl. Its also very recent, and I'm only really trying to properly implement it this week (partially inspired by this video by Claire Marshall). Typically over the past few months, I've been getting up somewhere in the region of 7-10 a.m., with the occasional later lie in if I'm feeling particularly lazy. Because I haven't been working past dinner time as often as I used to (now I don't live with fellow students, it's more difficult to maintain the motivation), this means I can easily lose hours of my day that I could be getting stuff done. I completely set my own schedule day to day, so it can be really difficult to designate working hours, and I think this consistent early wake-up call (I'm working on 7 a.m. currently) will allow me to be more productive in the daytime and still be okay to take a few evenings off a week (it's all about that work/life balance). I also think it will be generally good for me to have a consistent wake-up time, just to get my sleep pattern sorted and make sure I'm getting good quality sleep. As a sixteen alarm kind of gal (and one that loves a lazy lie in), I'm a bit concerned about the sustainability of this one, but I'm hoping if I can just push through the first few weeks it should become easier. I'm plugging my phone in on the opposite side of the room, so I have to get up to turn my alarm off, but I have been known to carry it back to bed and go back to sleep in the past… I'll keep you guys posted.
Being more present/using my phone less
So this last sentiment kind of leads into the next habit I want to make (or rather want to drop). When I first thought about writing this post, I didn't think to include this one, but it's something I've been doing kind of subconsciously for a little while. I want to be on my phone less. Too many times have I caught myself on my phone at needless moments: when I'm watching a show I'm enjoying; when I'm getting ready to sleep; when I'm at dinner with people I love; when I'm just at a loose end and I can scroll through it for hours. I'm trying to keep it away from the bed at bedtime, and generally reach for it less throughout the day. My new rule is, if I find myself lying on my bed scrolling away, if I'm not going to be productive in some other way, the least I can do is pick up my book instead.
Reading before bed
Which leads nicely to my final habit, one that might be a bit of a surprise for you guys. I love reading, I read all the bloody time for uni. Often, hundreds of pages a day. But my own reading too often gets side-tracked by this main event (if I'm reading, shouldn't I be reading something for uni instead?) So the new thing I want to try is to read at least fifty pages of my current novel before I go to bed. In order for me to write a good dissertation, I'm going to need to read outside of my courses! It also sends me off to sleep a lot more relaxed than scrolling through my emails for the hundredth time that day, and of course, I often end up reading way over fifty pages. I'm also carrying one around with me as often as I remember so I'm less tempted to look at my phone on public transport! I always had a book under my arm as a kid, and I want to get back to that.
Please let me know what good habits you guys have or are trying to form below, as I'm forever looking for little things I can do to make life a little easier and find that perfect balance between work and life. I'm planning on doing a more in-depth gym post at some point, but if you'd like me to go into more detail about any of the other things I've mentioned, please do tell me!
These pictures are from one of the outfits from my latest lookbook, if you guys haven't seen already. You can find all the links to the items (or similar bits) on there!