I’ve often heard that after great struggle comes great growth, and this past year exemplifies that. I finally learned about healthy habits, created goals, and strived to achieve them. Around four years ago, I suffered through postpartum depression but took action and thought I was completely better. Maybe it’s because I decided I was well enough to go off the meds, but almost two years ago, I started experiencing symptoms again.
A Step Back
Am I just biologically prone to depression? Maybe. Does my body not handle stress very well? Maybe (this is coming from someone who got shingles while planning her wedding). I started seeing a therapist again, who encouraged me to join some groups, so I joined MOMS Club of Camarillo. I joined Fitness 19 and started consistently working out again. Then COVID hit, and I fell into bad habits. I slept a LOT, and I mindlessly scrolled through social media A LOT to escape reality. I also binge-watched TV (gotta love those kdramas).
A Wonderful Step Forward Towards Healthy Habits
Flash forward to today, and, despite COVID still being around, I can honestly say I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time.
The following things helped change my mindset and encouraged me to focus on building healthy habits:
- Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
- Free Coursera Course called The Science of Well-Being
- Robin Long’s inspiring podcast/blog
- The Everygirl 2021 Planner I bought from Target – focuses on goal-setting with a monthly theme and offers weekly tips to help you meet those goals. This helps me designate a spot to plan my days and live with intention.
The Importance of Taking Action
You can read all the books and listen to all the podcasts you want, but if you don’t take action, it seems a little meaningless. This past year was about taking action. We have to take action to establish healthy habits. I’ve never been good at personal goal-setting, and I never used to make New Year’s resolutions because I just assumed I would break them. My life revolved around staying busy and checking things off my to-do list. I failed to take a step back, look at the big picture and set goals for myself. But I’m realizing just how important and self-satisfying it is to accomplish those. I also love Robin Long’s motto, “Grace over guilt.” I’m not going to be perfect, and it’s OK to skip days/weeks. I just need to remember to KEEP GOING.
Setting Up Healthy Habits
Here are a few healthy habits I’m striving to incorporate into my everyday routine:
- Exercise – I’m starting small and making my goal really easy and attainable – 15 minutes a day. Sometimes more, sometimes less. I’ve been stick-skinny for all of my life and never really prioritized exercise. By neglecting my physical health, I didn’t realize my mental health would later suffer. They are directly connected!
- Gratitude journal – I keep it on my nightstand so it’s easily accessible. Every day (or whenever I remember to), I write down 5 things I’m grateful for.
- Reading/listening to something inspiring – I need this to fuel my love of learning. This is one of my top 5 strengths. Do you know what your top strengths are? It’s important to focus on your strengths. These are different from strengths you would mention during a work interview. Take the free survey.
- Socializing – This is more important than ever because of COVID. I’m grateful for my small group that virtually meets every Saturday morning. I’m grateful for new mom friends I’ve met at parks/playgrounds in the past year. I’m grateful for technology and being able to video chat with family and friends.
Despite my previous challenges, I feel very fortunate that God continues to provide and bless my family. It has given me the opportunity to spend more time with my son and to spend more time on myself. I was able to create and cultivate the healthy habits I know I need to follow. I’ll leave with a song that my preschooler occasionally likes to sing: “I’ve got peace like a river, I’ve got peace like a river, I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.”
*Please note that I understand that during these stressful times, not everyone may have the time, energy, or motivation to try to transform their lives or be the best version of themselves. We’re all just trying to do the best we can.