Building Healthy Habits Takes Time
I notice a tendency that once I get stuck in my head, I want to crawl even further up there. The day was full and I had a lot to do. I fielded calls, took care of things that came up unexpectedly, and worked on the database. The more I worked on it, the more things I found to adjust and refine. I was becoming hyper-focused, losing all sense of perspective. I could feel that my body was getting stiffer and tighter. And I was even aware that I would feel better if I disconnected from my task, drank water, and stretched – but I didn’t do it.
I just wanted to finish my task with all the details in perfect order, however long it took. My head ruled and I was spiraling tighter and tighter. I didn’t have the energy to reverse the momentum I had going into contracted and shut down. Does this happen to you, too?
A healthy routine literally saves the day
Fortunately I had a 4pm date to walk with my writer-friend who structures her day with writing until 2:30, a nap, a walk at 4:00, and work in her garden as long as the light allows in the cool of evening. She has to walk every day or she gets really stiff. I either don’t get that stiff (yet) or have a greater ability to block out stiffness. As far as I can see, that’s a mixed blessing. Maybe if my own stiffness were worse, I would have to structure my day toward better self-care as well. The Gift of Breakdown and all that…
I knew that the walk would loosen my tight energetic spiral, get me back into my body, and get my creative juices flowing again. I had this blog post to write and I need some measure of breath and the centeredness of being (at least somewhat) in my body to write creatively. But I was equally aware that once I got back from the walk, I had to hold myself away from the almost-but-not-quite finished database work because it was also calling to me. I like that finite feeling of accomplishment. A finished database is finite and indisputable, like alphabetized files or a balanced ledger sheet. A piece of writing (I tell myself) can always be longer or shorter, more researched or more polished.
It Takes Energy to Change Direction
On our walk, we discussed that tendency to keep going as you’re going – contracting or expanding. It takes effort to change directions and inattention will take you further into whatever you are already headed. Drift happens. If I’m putting on weight, I tend to keep putting on weight until and unless I make a conscious effort to shift my behavior. It’s one of my personal challenges. There are so many examples of ways I can spiral into somewhere I don’t want to go if I don’t make the effort to reverse my thrusters and go a different way.
Then I thought about how much that works in the positive direction as well. A little exercise, if I stick with it, becomes easier and easier to do. I meditate on Monday nights with my posse and walk on Thursdays with Harriet. That’s not always enough to nudge me into better self-care practices all week long, but it doesn’t seem to be enough. I feel wonderful when I meditate consistently every morning and exercise most days.
Tell the Perfect Woman to shut up
The Perfect Woman in my head tells me that I’ve been in positive healthy grooves before and can- must- should get back into one again. But it’s like trying to break free from Earth’s gravity. That Inner Critic has worn a deep groove I fall into. I haven’t gathered enough momentum to break free from the inertia of my blobby habits. Sometimes I feel like Sisyphus, the Greek hero sentenced to pushing a boulder up a hill every day only to have it crash down and do it again. Some days I meditate, exercise, hydrate and eat well. Unfortunately, that doesn’t count for the next day when I have to do it all over again. Of course, the “solution” is to love it, be happy with it, enjoy it. But if that isn’t the way I genuinely feel, what then?
Since I may need to enlist exercise buddies to help me gather momentum. Building healthy habits takes time and getting help from some who can help hold you accountable is a great way to reinforce a new behavior. If you have a good answer to the question, “How do I get myself to exercise and meditate when I don’t have much momentum to do either?” I’d love to hear if your ideas. Contact me.
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