7 Healthy Lifestyle Habits I'm Focusing On This Year
Self-care is super trendy these days but unfortunately, I think it can also be super misunderstood.
Our society tends to see self-care as bath bombs and Ben & Jerry’s which, it certainly can be. But I think those things are only part of the picture. The problem is, other times those things can actually be a reaction—to a repeated failure to truly care for ourselves in the truest sense of the term.
Here’s what I mean—I’ll paint you a picture of what this looks like when it happens in my own life.
I see every spare moment as an opportunity to tackle my to-do list, but I never take a break. After a while, I end up burned out and scraping the barrel trying to complete my bare minimum tasks.
I eat too much junk food so I’m lethargic and I don’t feel like being active, which only feeds my desire to indulge some more more.
I stay up late watching TV because it’s easier than cutting myself off and getting ready for bed, so I end up waking up late then I’m tired all day—which only perpetuates the cycle because I now feel the need to “unwind” the same way the following night.
In these scenarios, self-care becomes the thing I turn to in order to cope with a chaotic life I haven’t taken control of, but am instead living in reaction to. But what if true self-care is actually demonstrated by boundaries I create, and the discipline I exercise in creating them, which prevent my life from becoming something I need to cope with at all?
Essentially, what if self-care is doing the things I may not feel like doing in the moment, but end up serving me well in the long run?
A while back I read this article on what self-care really means (highly recommend), which is what sparked these thoughts—and it really challenged me to rethink the little choices I make every day. Because in reality, the little choices I make every day end up forming the very rhythms and routines that give shape to my life.
I do have a few concrete goals I’ve set for myself this year but mainly, my goal has been to focus on becoming more consistent with certain habits I already practice, only inconsistently. I’m happy to report that so far, I’ve done pretty good with most of them, and the structure they've given to my life has been so helpful, especially as I step out in new and unchartered ways this year—like starting my YouTube channel (plus other stuff soon to come 😊 ).
Keep in mind, these habits won’t look the same for everyone—and that’s okay. These are simply what work for me when I'm disciplined in doing them day-in and day-out. My hope in sharing is that they would give you ideas or inspire you to think about what habits are most helpful in your own life.
7 HEALTHY LIFESTYLE HABITS I'M FOCUSING ON THIS YEAR
1. SPENDING TIME WITH JESUS FIRST THING IN THE MORNING
There’s no right way or right time of day to spend time with Jesus, what matters most is that we are. I have found though, mornings are better for me (despite my not being a morning person). Last year, I started to get in the habit of having quiet times on my lunch breaks simply because I wasn’t waking up on time, and I didn’t like it. I do so much better entering my day having centered my heart on who God is and having inviting Him into all the little worries and hopes on my heart. Doing it in the morning also allows me to set a rule of no phone—no texts, no emails, no Instagram notifications, no to-do lists—before I’ve spent time with Jesus. I can’t even tell you how helpful this has been for me!
2. TAKING A DAY OFF SOCIAL MEDIA ONCE A WEEK
I once heard it said that anything we don’t take regular breaks from runs the risk of becoming something that controls us, and I think it's so true! Being I’m a blogger who spends a lot of time on various social media platforms, this practice has been everything for me. Every week, I take a look at my content calendar and find one day I don’t need to post anything, and I set it aside as a no social media day. This has been so helpful in keeping my heart from getting too wrapped up in comparison or things like followers and likes—which are a necessary aspect of the blogging world, but can easily become too much of a focus without proper boundaries..
3. DRINKING 60-80 OUNCES OF WATER A DAY
I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but coffee doesn’t actually wake me up—I just like the taste of it. What does wake me up is water. When I’m hydrated, I have more energy, I’m less prone to mindless snacking, my mind is clearer, and so is my skin. (I once wrote a whole blog post on all the benefits of drinking water, so check it out if you want to know more 😉). I like to drink 25-30 ounces first thing in the morning before having any coffee or food, because it cleanses my system and wakes me up. Plus, it knocks out a big chunk of my goal right away. Even though it doesn’t always sound good first thing in the morning, I always feel better all around when I do. I use this Swell water bottle and typically do about three to four refills each day.
4. EATING CLEAN DURING THE WORK WEEK
I’m an all-or-nothing person in a lot of areas, and eating tends to be one of them. I’m either throwing back kale smoothies like it’s my job or elbow deep in a box of See’s Candies—that’s just how it goes, and I’m still figuring out what works best for me. What I’ve landed on for now, is eating clean Monday through Friday when the routine of the work week makes doing so a bit easier, then being more relaxed on the weekends, as those are often filled with some sort of get-together involving food. Being disciplined during the week makes any weekend indulgences feel more like I treat I can enjoy, rather than a sugar coma waiting to happen. Here are some of my favorite clean-eating foods!
5. STICKING TO A NIGHTLY UNPLUG + UNWIND ROUTINE
When I’m tired after a long day, the last thing I want to do is wash my face and floss my teeth and brew a cup of chamomile tea to sip while I read a book. All I want to do is the bare minimum so I can jump in bed. But, I’m learning these things are important not only in and of themselves, but also because the ritual of them trains my body and brain for sleep. It signals a transition from the hustle and bustle of the day, to a slowing down. It’s a way of saying, what was accomplished today is enough, and now it’s time to rest.
I’ve never had a problem flossing my teeth but if I’m being honest, I haven’t always been super consistent with washing my face. Now, before you get all grossed out, I never, ever go to bed with my makeup on. I just can’t. But in the past if I was tired and feeling lazy, I’d often use a makeup wipe and call it a night, skipping over the whole cleanse, tone, and moisturize thing. Until I realized somewhere in this past year that I’m not 18 anymore, and decided it was time to get more serious about my skincare routine.
I wasn’t loving the skincare regimen I had been using, so earlier this year I decided to try out the Rodan + Field Redefine Regimen through my friend Bre, who sells R+F. I’d heard great things and assumed I would like it, but didn’t know if it would be much different than any other face wash. But ya’ll, this stuff is a GAME CHANGER. I’ve been using it since the beginning of the year, and I haven’t missed a single night—I haven’t wanted to because I get so excited to use it! It has a cleanser, toner, a morning defense treatment (basically just the dreamiest moisturizer), and an overnight restorative cream.
6. WORKING OUT TWO TO THREE TIMES PER WEEK
Of any on the list, this one needs the most work, but hey—that’s why I said these are habits I’m focusing on this year, right? 😉 Working out after work doesn’t work for me (that’s a lot of work’s) as I have post-work commitments three, sometimes four out of five weeknights. I would love to get to the point where I’m waking up early enough to work out in the morning a couple times a week, in addition to the Saturday morning workout I generally try to squeeze in. I have so much more energy when I do! I’ll keep you updated on my progress. Currently I’m doing BBG by Kayla Itsines, but I would love to try Pure Barre at some point! Let me know what you think if you've done it.
7. HAVING A SABBATH FROM TO-DO'S ONCE A WEEK
I’m an achiever who sets big goals and loves crossing things off her to-do list, which means I’m always looking to optimize my time for getting stuff done. But, this past year I wasn’t very good about practicing Sabbath, and it started to take it’s toll on me. Without having a day once a week to refrain from work, life becomes one continuous cycle of chasing after the next thing. I’m learning the importance of rest and rhythms to break that up. It allows you to celebrate what has been done, and count it as enough.
I’ve found for me, that the best way for me to practice Sabbath is to abstain from having a to-do list for the day. The reason for this is, so much of what I do, I love. If I happen to find myself editing photos while watching a show on the day I’ve set aside for Sabbath, for example, that is relaxing and restful to me. I enjoy it. BUT, if editing photos was on my list as something I HAD to get done that day, it would feel like work to me, because the to-do list puts pressure on it. It sounds like such a simple nuance, but it makes a big difference in me. Even so, most of the days I’ve set aside for Sabbath this year (usually Sundays, but not always), have been spent doing fun things with family and friends instead, without the pressure of knowing I have to get home and get something finished when we're done, and it’s been so nice. (It’s like God knew what He was doing when He came up with the principle of Sabbath or something). What's more is, I've found that as I’ve taken time to rest, it hasn’t slowed my productivity, it’s actually breathed life into it.
There you have it, the healthy lifestyle habits I’m focusing on to care for myself this year. Because yes, self-care can be bath bombs and Ben & Jerry’s, but it’s also budgets and bedtimes. It’s the consistent, day-to-day choices that require discipline, but simultaneously breathe life into us.
Now, it’s your turn—I want to hear from YOU! What unhealthy habits are you kissing goodbye this year, and what healthy habits are you focusing on instead? Let me know in the comments—I’d love to hear what’s made a difference for you!
Here’s to a happy and healthy 2018 for us all. 😊