Wellness Wednesday: Give Yourself Time to Think

This Wellness Wednesday, I bring you a reflective piece about slowing down, giving ourselves uninterrupted time to think, and observing what comes up for us. There is power in bringing your attention back to yourself. I hope reading this post inspires you to invite more mindfulness into your day and to prioritize yourself.

Making time to think without interruption is something I consciously have to do these days. I know that’s a weird statement, but stay with me on this. We are constantly stimulated with things to do, media to consume, people to talk to, and things to buy. All-day. When I look at how much screen time I spend on my phone or laptop, I’m disturbed. Of course, nowadays, I spend more time than usual plugged in since many of the things I do or enjoy have to be done online now. However, seeing how many hours I spent looking at a screen each week shifted something for me.

I watch a lot of YouTube, like a lot of people I know. And if I’m not careful, I can spend around 2-3 hours looking at YouTube videos in a single day. Sometimes I find myself watching videos that are like junk food after a while – they don’t really satisfy what I’m hungry for or give me any kind of nutritional value. Last year in November I decided to block YouTube from all of my devices for an entire week. The intention then was for me to redirect my energy and focus on what was most pressing at the time. By the second day of no YouTube, I realized two very important things.

The first was that I craved some form of entertainment to get me through the day. Whenever I saw someone watching a video, my eyes naturally floated to their screen. At one point, I resorted to playing Candy Crush… I haven’t played that game in what feels like decades now. I don’t even care about that game. If that game was somehow deleted entirely without a trace to bring it back, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it (no offense to Candy Crush fanatics). What was I actually looking for? Many things. I was looking for ways to entertain myself, relax, avoid my responsibilities, and soothe myself.

The second thing I realized was that I had so much more time to think. When I wasn’t feeding myself hours of YouTube videos or pacifying myself in other ways, I had more time in silence. I had more time to appreciate the present moment. I had more time to observe my thoughts and ask myself questions. The reality is that I still had the same 24 hours in a day that I always had, but with this space to think, it felt as though time went by slower. As a result, I started to feel better. I felt more grounded, connected to my own thoughts and opinions, and connected to the present moment.

This doesn’t have to be about YouTube (and it isn’t, frankly). Some people like to scroll down Instagram for hours on end, some are gamers all day, and some are just constantly working or taking classes. All of us have our own obligations and relationships to maintain, as well as our favorite mediums to entertain ourselves. What this is about is the fact that a lot of the time, we don’t slow down and consciously give ourselves time to be with ourselves – and nothing else. Even when many of us are encouraged to stay indoors for a while, we fill the gaps of our day with some kind of stimulant. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t work, connect with others, or consume our favorite media. I am saying that we could benefit from having some time each day reserved just for us. No videos, no games, no music, no conversations with others. Just you and only you. How does the idea of that make you feel?

To some people, that sounds like heaven. To others, it sounds a little scary and intimidating. Maybe to others, it just sounds kinda boring. I challenge you to try a few minutes in silence and notice your tendencies. Can you sit in silence for 10 minutes and not look at your phone? What do you think about while you’re sitting there? Does your mind immediately go to the tasks you have to do for the day, for example? Observe yourself. Without judging anything or going down the rabbit hole with one of your thoughts, notice what comes up for you.

When you give yourself time to think, you give yourself time to be. You give yourself time to come up with your own conclusions, work through challenging emotions, and appreciate the present. Perhaps what I’m recommending here is that we all commit to a few moments of mindfulness each day and see how that feels for us. After all, a big part of our wellness journeys involves checking in with ourselves. How can we work through limiting beliefs if we haven’t observed them yet? How can we notice how tired we are if we don’t take a second to acknowledge it?

Let’s give ourselves the gift of our own time and attention. Instead of question prompts this week, I would like to offer two challenges:

  • Spend 10 minutes of uninterrupted time today with yourself. Notice what comes up for you.
  • Take inventory of what takes up most of your attention and energy each day (e.g., working, watching the news, spending time with friends, social media, etc.)

I’ll check-in with you next week – have a well and beautiful rest of your Wednesday!

Wellness Wednesday: Staying Grounded with Habits + Routines

Recently I’ve been working on building a routine for myself from scratch. In this current reality of uncertainty and change, there’s a lot of anxiety. I’ve felt my fair share of it. In the moments where I’ve been shaken the most, continuing some of my habits and routines have helped me stay grounded. For example, there was a period in my life where I couldn’t sleep at night. I wasn’t doing anything, either (no Netflix, no talking to friends, nada). I was just in my bed, thinking a million thoughts.

Before I knew it, I saw the sunrise without a lick of sleep for days on end. There was a lot of change and anxiety going on at that time for me. However, something that helped me eventually regulate my sleep schedule was the practice of journaling. Now, I’ve written about the power of journaling several times before. But really, this practice helped me go from sleepless nights to falling asleep with my pen still in my hand. More than that, it has helped me express myself completely and feel grounded.

I’m not saying that every action we do has to be planned out, habitual, or routinized. Life wouldn’t be fun without a little spontaneity, mystery, and gaps. I am saying that we can make things easier and more enjoyable for ourselves when we stick to a few routines. It also helps us focus our energy on things we can control rather than things we can’t.

I’ve decided to add a few things to my routine that have helped me in the past, like using positive affirmations. I also check-in with myself now at the beginning and end of each day to see how I’m feeling and what I need. It feels good to give myself that care and attention. Having days where I focus on specific aspects of my life, like Money Mondays and Wellness Wednesdays, helps me feel more control of what I can control. I can manage my relationship with my money and my relationship with myself. Having these weekly sessions remind me of that, and that feels empowering. It feels good to have checkpoints in the day and week that are familiar and help me progress, one step at a time.

Today I’m encouraging you to look at your routine (or lack thereof) and think about what’s serving you and what’s not. What helps you feel grounded on the daily? Here are some important things to keep in mind though…

The habits and routines you build should be based on things you ACTUALLY want to do, have, and accomplish. They shouldn’t be based on things you think you SHOULD want to do, have, and accomplish. Your journey in life is uniquely yours. It doesn’t matter what others – or your ego – is telling you that you SHOULD do. It only matters that you do good things that are in alignment with you and your best interest. So for example, if you don’t have the most Instagrammable and perfect morning routine? Screw it. The real question is do you have the best morning routine for you? And if not, how can you create a morning routine that you’ll love?

Secondly, when incorporating new behaviors into your life, try to do so one at a time. That means if you want to start meditating, reading, and eating vegetarian every day, you should probably start by dedicating your energy to one thing for a certain amount of time. Maybe you decide that you’ll start with meditating every morning for 10 minutes each day, for three weeks. Great start! After those three weeks see how you feel, and then you can build on top of that habit by adding in 15 minutes of reading after your morning meditation. Basically, pace yourself.

As someone who is used to taking on a million projects at once, this is sometimes easier said than done for me. However, I find that when my attention and energy is focused on one thing at a time – and building one habit at a time – everything feels easier. So as you build your routines, give yourself some ease and, more than that, be compassionate with yourself.

Now, this post wouldn’t be complete without some resources and questions to make you think soooo here we go!

Resources for creating routines and habit building:

Videos: the one habit that is changing my life: set systems rather than goals (Rowena Tsai), How to Build Habits That Stick (Lavendaire), Why I quit trying to build the perfect morning routine (Matt D’Avelia).

Books: Atomic Habits by James Clear, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Here are some questions for you to ask yourself and grow from:

  1. What does my daily routine look like?
  2. What do I spend most of my time doing?
  3. What are the best parts of my day/week/month? Why? What do I get out of these moments?
  4. What parts of my day/week/month feel like a drag? Why? What do I get out of these moments?
  5. What activities feel grounding to me? (e.g., meditating, going for a walk, journaling, painting, etc.)
  6. What is one habit I want to add to my routine? What is my motivation for this?

I hope you take the time to truly consider these questions, and to consider yourself. Have a wonderful Wednesday full of wellness.

Wellness Wednesday: The Series

About a year ago, after feeling pretty overwhelmed by *all the things*, I decided that I would try using themes to focus on specific things for each day of the week. Mondays, for example, are called Money Mondays and on these days I focus on my finances, expand my financial education, and learn more about getting good with my money. If you’re interested in learning more about what my Money Mondays consist of, check out this post here.

Wednesdays are for wellness! Wellness Wednesdays consist of an hour or two of me taking notes and reflecting on how my health has been since last Wednesday. I do a physical “check-up” where I look at myself in the full-length mirror and see if I notice anything different (e.g., acne on my face, any scars or bumps, etc.). Then, I take note of how I’ve been feeling mentally, emotionally, and physically. Sometimes I notice things like my mind feeling heavy or scattered or that my body needs a goooood stretch. I then ask myself what I need more of and how I can take better care of myself this week. Maybe I need to sleep earlier, connect with my friends, or journal out complicated feelings.

Now, of course, I take care of myself to the best of my ability every other day of the week. But having a designated day where I make it my mission to fully and deeply check-in with myself has been tremendously helpful. Wellness Wednesdays remind me of how important it is for me to check-in with myself and have healthy practices. Sometimes we get into a slump, or we are so distracted by things like work, stress, family, relationships, etc., that we forget ourselves. We forget to eat. We forget to stretch. We don’t notice that our body is changing and has different needs now. We don’t acknowledge our anxiety or the fact that we’re feeling overwhelmed right now. Wellness Wednesdays are that reminder for me that my health and wellness are my top priority.

Having said that, every Wednesday I’d like to help remind YOU that YOUR health and wellness is your top priority by starting a series called, you guessed it, Wellness Wednesday! Each week you’ll receive a new post from me about things like taking care of your mental health, the importance of checking in with yourself, physical challenges, and questions to ask yourself. And speaking of questions…

I have a few for you! Let’s say you had a practice like Wellness Wednesday – dedicated time(s) and habit(s) of checking in with yourself. What would that look like for you? How would you check in with yourself and take better care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally?

TLDR; Wellness Wednesdays = a habit I’ve built of checking in with my physical, mental, and emotional health each week, AND the name of my latest series on here! Come back each week for wellness related articles every Wednesday. Ask yourself:

Questions for reflection:

  1. How can I make checking in with myself both a priority and a habit?
  2. How can I check in with myself physically? (e.g., examining yourself in a mirror, checking your health stats, etc.)
  3. How can I check in with myself mentally? (e.g., journaling, mindfulness, etc.)
  4. How can I check in with myself emotionally? (e.g., going to therapy, mood tracker, etc.)
  5. What do I need right now? (e.g., a nap, a hug, etc.)

I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday full of wellness.