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.

#18: System Shut Down + Weekly Favorites

For most of this past week, I was sick, which wasn’t fun at all. I usually don’t get sick unless I’m under a lot of stress or in what I call a “low-vibrational state”; in short it’s a state where I’m being pretty negative or feeling insecure and just emotionally or mentally feeling icky. I’m not kidding when I say this. Mentally feeling icky leads me to feel physically icky. So healing from that took a lot of deep sleep, medicine, and positive thinking.

I think my procrastination from the week before, paired with lingering thoughts of perfectionism and disappointment in producing less than exquisite work, spilled into the beginning of this week and stressed me out a lot. That and the fact that my schedule was out of whack. No wonder my immune system shut down.

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Towards the end of the week though, I started to feel MUCH better. It was a night and day difference. That experience gave me a wakeup call on how important it is for me to keep in good spirits (while still respecting the full range of emotions that come up for me), and that everything is connected. When I slacked and stressed on my work, I’m sure that led to me slacking and stressing on my nutrition and schedule and everything else. Everything is connected.

So here’s my reminder to you not to let sicky, icky feelings catch you by surprise! Make sure to keep your immunity high by:

  • Drinking lots of water, and taking in enough Vitamin C.
  • Reducing stress as much as possible with things like meditation, journaling, and deep breathing.
  • Getting plenty of deep sleep. Make those REM cycles count, sis.

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With this week ahead, my intentions are to take care of myself, to do things with a “beginner’s mindset” with LOTS of compassion, and to be grateful. Like right now I’m grateful for the fact that I had some yummy oatmeal with peanut butter (before you knock it, try it) and that my mom sent me the sweetest message filled with love this morning. I was in tears reading it. Food + mom = a whole lot to be grateful for. What are you grateful for today?

Weekly Favorites

Youtube Video: your. 20’s. aren’t. a. joke. | advice for surviving your 20’s – an amazing friend sent me this video and we bonded over how REAL this is. Ugh. If you’re in your 20s or want a trip down memory lane, please check this out.

Organization: StoryCorps

Podcast: Highest Self Podcast by Sahara Rose

Song: Sucker by the Jonas Brothers — yes, they’re back! When I was younger, I absolutely loved the Jonas Brothers. And guess what? Nothing has changed! Haha, but this song is sooo good and the music vid is absolutely beautiful. Life goals = to be Priyanka Chopra, sitting in a bathtub with jewels on my head.

 

#9: Taking Care of Myself, “Becoming,” and Weekly Reflections​

This week mostly consisted of me sleeping in until around 10/11am, hanging out, watching lots of Marvel movies, and finding moments to center myself. And you know what? I’m soooo glad I got that time to reset, connect, and reflect. I think I needed a shift from the usual stuff, of being studious and mobile.

Speaking of shifts, this week I came to the conclusion that I’m in the midst of a big, energetical shift. In a spiritual way. Things are changing, and the best way I can describe it is that I feel as though I’m growing new wings; I’m learning new skills, adulting a lot more, and giving myself the space to BE. To create, and fail, and win, and work.

Perhaps the shift is that I’m prioritizing myself. The feeling of it feels new and beautiful.

It’s in the moments that I find myself coming back to myself, the moments when I get quiet and listen to my needs, that I feel amazing. I feel present. This week reminded me of that. I think what helped was that I finally picked up a paper and pen and started journaling again; that physical act of writing helps me ground myself. Do you have something like that? Something that brings you back to your present being and helps you tap into your intuition? For me, writing is my go-to.

 

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Source: Soul Pancake

 

Speaking of prioritizing myself, I got a gym membership! —- Nowwww, before you roll your eyes and peg that I only got it because of the new year, that’s not the case. I just happened to buy my membership at the exact time that an explanation like that would be predictable LOL, but in reality, I got it because now I feel like I have a better understanding of what works for me. And since I’ve attracted a lot of athletic people in my life, I have a little bit of guidance if I need it. Plus now I happily have a few gym buddies willing to go with me! Not only that, but I’ve been working on letting go of limiting beliefs about my body and my abilities.

I’ve also decided that comparing yourself to people in unhealthy ways is a trash way to get nothing productive done. The reason I mention that last bit is that for a while, I think that’s what subconsciously held me back from putting my fitness first. It’s easy to compare yourself to someone you perceive to be in beautiful shape, feel bad about it, and do nothing as a result. That’s easy! And it’s limiting. You know what takes a little more energy but gives you a lot more satisfaction? Acknowledging the beauty in others, and realizing that it doesn’t minimize your own. Applauding those you deem as beautiful, and using it as motivation to help you. Almost like a little reminder to love yourself and work towards being the greatest version of yourself; the version that feels happiest and healthiest.

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This week I started and continued listening to the audiobook of Michelle Obama’s, Becoming, and I love it. Even though I’ve lived a very different life experience from Michelle so far, there are certain messages that stick out to me. As if she’s speaking to me. Some of those messages are that 1) failure is a feeling long before it’s an actual result, and that 2) We continually choose our partners. I felt, perhaps too well, her story of being asked by another black girl why she “talked like a white girl”. I remember experiencing that in 6th grade and being so confused and oddly offended because I knew it was mentioned to me in a way that made me seem “other”.

I listen to this audiobook when I’m doing practically everything, and now I’m up to the part where Michelle talks about meeting and interacting with Barack. I highly recommend picking up a copy or downloading it on sites like Audible.

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Some of my weekly favorites and highlights this week were:

  1. Movie: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (loved that movie!)
  2. Book: Again, Michelle Obama’s Becoming
  3. Song: SUMMER by The Carters
  4. Video: Jay Shetty on Impact Theory (I am fascinated by his story and mission; this interview made a real impact on me to the point where I’m ready to watch it over and over again).
  5. Weekly Highlights: Seeing the beautiful tree at Rockefeller Center, doing yoga, spending time with someone sweet, and calling my best friends.

I enjoyed this week. I consumed a lot of good content and, amongst connecting with others, I took some time to connect with myself. Sounds like a solid week to me! My intentions for this upcoming week are to enjoy the holidays, go to the gym, hang out some more, and to push myself a little further. Let’s see how the week unfolds and what manifests.

Wishing you wellness.

#5: Five Practices for Being Mindful of How You Feel

Hellooo! It has been quite some time; school has pulled me back into her arms recently.

At the end of my last post, I promised that my next post would be all about the practices and resources I’ve used to help me be mindful of how I’m feeling. By being mindful, I mean these practices have helped me open up an awareness and consciousness of my feelings. And guess what?

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It’s time for a self-checkup! Here’s a list of practices I use that cause me to ask myself, “Valencia, how are you feeling?”, and help me answer that question fully:

1. Pacifica

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This app has made me think about how I feel more than I ever have before. It’s very helpful if you are/have ever dealt with clinical or general depression and anxiety. The app allows for me to plug in how I’m feeling based on a scale (great–awful), and hashtags like #scatterbrained or #grateful, or any hashtag I want.

I’m able to track my mood throughout the day, and throughout the week. I’ve been able to identify what events caused me to feel really good one week and sought to duplicate those events the next week. It’s caused me to be really introspective about how I’m feeling. And no one sees it but me.

What’s more? The app gives me the option to engage in guided meditations, which I’ll get to later in this article and a hope board – where I can put anything that inspires me. Once I open the app, I am greeted with a quote and a calming background of my choosing. I think everyone should track how they’re feeling. Learn more about Pacifica here.

Have you used Pacifica or anything like it? How do you track how you feel?

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2. Voice Memos

I use voice memos purely for two reasons – to record myself singing and to record myself talking. Talking??

Yes, talking! To myself…

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Hear me out! When you vent to a friend or family member, you usually feel better right? When someone really listens to you and how you’re feeling you feel lighter, correct? Well, what if you don’t have someone around or don’t feel like talking to other people?

You should be your best friend – and as your best friend, it’s important to talk to and listen to yourself. When I make voice recordings, I usually talk about how I’m feeling in full. I talk about how I’m feeling internally, any thoughts that pop up, and how I’m feeling externally. Example:

“This couch is really soft. I like the feel of it a lot. I was a bit bothered today by (insert scenario here) though. I’m feeling a bit hungry at the moment too. That made me think…”

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What have I found by doing this? I’m glad you asked. Talking is very cathartic. And by having this recording – which you can listen to after or delete immediately – you have a feel for how you feel. Sometimes I end up solving my own problems by talking them out.

3. Journaling

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I am the BIGGEST advocate for journaling. As a pensive person, writing things down is my saving grace. When I journal, I free-write, allowing myself to write down whatever comes to mind. Usually, I write at the end of the day, detailing the following: how I’m feeling in the moment, how I felt all day, what I did today, what I learned today, what I’m grateful for, what I want to happen tomorrow, etc. The list truly goes on and on…

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Aside from emptying my brain onto pages, I’ve gained a lot of insight about how I feel about certain things in my life and what events cause me to feel certain ways. I’m able to look back and read my own development – you grow a lot from journaling, in a matter of days sometimes. It’s a safe space for me to be as aggressive, crass, sad, excited, grateful, or (insert emotion) that I want. Plus seeing how you feel can be a game changer. By writing in your journal you can express how you feel with all your heart’s intent, and by reading your journal you can look observationally at these feelings to see what they tell you.

Buzzfeed knows what I’m talking about, and there are dozens of Youtube videos to guide you if you decide to pick up that pen. Pssst, you really should!

Question: Would you like to see a whole post dedicated to journaling? I’m thinking of so many resources and tips that go along with journaling, but we have to get to the next on our list here which is…

4. Meditating

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Okay, okay, I’ll be honest. I don’t meditate as often as I’d like to. In fact, when I meditate it’s actually an accomplishment – but I’m striving to be better! What I’ve noticed with meditation is that it encourages the act of being mindful and of being in the moment. Some of the most helpful guided meditations I’ve listened to encourage identifying how you feel before and after the meditation. After I have a successful meditation I realize the following things:

  • Mentally I feel lighter, and I have fewer thoughts swimming through my mind. The thoughts that I do have are more pleasant and clear-headed.
  • Emotionally I feel good, stable, and gentle.
  • My body feels softer, and all tension that I had before the meditation has floated away
  • I feel much more present. No brain fog for me!
  • I take notice of my surroundings a lot more.

If you’d like to have a clearer mind and better understanding of how you feel, start with some guided meditations. There are free ones on Youtube and some free ones on the Pacifica app I mentioned earlier.

5. Taking a shower

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There’s something about running water that gets you thinking about life. Whenever I take a shower, I use that time to let myself reflect on how I’m feeling.

Am I worried at all? Stressed? Symbolically, I use the water from my shower to wash out all thoughts of worry or stress from the hours before. It really helps me to identify how I’m feeling, and to dissolve anything that doesn’t serve me at the moment.

Next time you take a shower, use that time to tune in to your star player… you! Take note of how you’re feeling, and let yourself feel that in full. Feel the water, feel the soap, and feel the feels.  

Let me know what mindfulness practices you’ve found helpful, and what tips or resources you’re considering using!

 

All the best,

Valencia Saint-Louis