I come from a Catholic family, so the religious aspect of this time on the calendar has always played a role in my choice to give something up. Something that would test me. Usually chocolate and sweets. But this year, I'm not giving anything up. I will, however, be testing myself: I'm choosing to make it about creating healthy habits, not about restricting myself.
But that's not really a valuable lesson.
I didn't really teach myself anything other than the fact that I could find success with restriction if I really wanted to. But is restriction good and/or necessary? Not always.
So again, this year it's about creating healthy habits.
And this is what I'll be focusing on:
1) Balancing my intake of chocolate and sweets—and sugar.
Because I probably, really seriously don't need a cookie after lunch and a piece of chocolate after dinner. And I probably, really seriously don't need to be buying so much of it all at the store. But, there's a time and place for chocolate and sweets in my diet. And it's not truly realistic of me to eliminate all sources of sugar. But I can choose better. And I can be OK with wanting the cookie and the chocolate on occasion.
2) Recognizing unnecessary use of my iPhone.
I am, as my husband would say, "completely glued to my iPhone." It's bad. I have a habit of using it when I'm bored instead of striking up a conversation or picking up a book. I pull it out while I'm riding in the car, when I'm eating lunch...I mean, it's out of control. To the point where I literally get sick of my phone but can't put it down. Because, social media. What if I miss something? Never mind that I'm missing the life that's happening everywhere else around me.
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3) Eliminating the need to do everything all at once.
I have this Type A problem. I need everything to be in order. Whether that's at my job, at home or right here with the blog...it's a constant battle, one that I'm always accepting. Do, go, and be. Get it done. Don't leave it astray. That, of course, has been my mentality. But it's driving me bonkers and I'm trying really hard to slow down and accept the piles and the dust. To stay focused on one thing at a time, to get it done correctly and efficiently before moving on. Because I am only one me, so I can only really do one thing at a time. I know there are others out there with far more on their plate, but we all know what it feels like to juggle. And I'm a firm believer that switching over to a better balancing act goes a long way for mental health. (Physical health, too. I'm sure.)
4) Embracing without guilt what I do for myself
I don't think I ever, truly want to be away from my husband or kids. But there are times when I need a break for whatever reason. Retail therapy. Running. Solo time with friends and family. But I've been noticing myself feeling guilty about it lately. Especially when it comes to me asking for and taking the time to go running. I need running in my life. It keeps me feeling good physically, and does wonders for mental clarity. So I'm going to work on not feeling guilty when I need to go off on my own. Of course, I've never been made to feel guilty, it's all coming from within.
Now, how will I achieve all of the above? How will I work on it over the course of the next 40 days? By learning to recognize when my efforts are not working, and by asking myself why they aren't. Because I firmly believe the only way to really create healthy habits is to observe ourselves. To understand why we do what we do.
It's not enough for us to just call ourselves out on eating a cookie or feeling guilty. That feels like restriction. We have to help ourselves understand why we do the things we do so we can move forward as brighter, stronger and more balanced individuals.
Does this make sense?
I hope so.
Question: Do you give something up at this time of year? What healthy habits are you working on right now?