|Sweater: Topshop | Bottoms: Zara | Boots: Zara|
Hey guys. I think many of you follow me on instagram so you probably have somewhat of an idea that I started making vast changes to my daily routine in order to improve not only my physical health but my mental health. As I have mentioned before I have struggled with anxiety for many many years. The first encounter I can remember was in 4th grade. I had this class presentation. It probably wasn't my first but for some reason I was super nervous. I have no idea why because I was totally prepared, over prepared one would say. My presentation boards were always a hit but when it came to getting up in front of the class I would place my board on the ledge and get the talking so fast just so I could get back to my seat. This presentation was on snails and I was really excited about all the new facts that I had learned (I cant believe how vivid I remember this; I had my first crush at this time too - maybe that's why I was so nervous..hmm) and rehearsed to share while pointing at the diagram I had glued onto my board. Well as soon as I got to the front of the class and had all eyes on me I started talking at the speed of light and got my hinny back to my seat as quickly as possible. Even at this age my anxiety came with this awful pit feeling. I remember getting home from school and my mom asking how the presentation went. She had helped me, practiced with me and knew how excited I was about the facts so she asked me if I shared this fact and that fact and I was like oh no I forgot that one... but my board was pretty and they probably saw. (btw i totally aced the report, board and presentation).Well this feeling of anxiety anytime I was in the spotlight pretty much carried me into adulthood. To the point that I probably haven't had a good nights sleep in a decade because my mind won't slow down. It was all but manageable up until the last couple of years and more recently it has been so bad that I carry that pit feeling I was talking about almost the entire day. A couple weeks ago it was so bad that I started getting these sharp pains in my stomach throughout my day and realized that I had to make a change if I was going to survive to see a healthy 30. I have joked with my mom for many years that I will probably have an ulcer or stroke before my 30th birthday because of anxiety. My anxiety comes from the feeling of not being in control & fear of the unknown and it literally rules my life. It tells me whether I am going to get out of bed today, what time I'm going to get out of bed, what I'm going to do once I get out of bed, if I'm going to productive throughout my day! Finally I realized that this had to stop. I have a dream that I know God has planted in my heart to change the world and be a bold woman in Christ for my generation. I can't do any of this if I'm living in fear, allowing my anxiety to run and drain me to the point of depletion. I would wake up with less energy then I had when I went to sleep. Finally I decided to be intentional in driving the change I wanted to see in my life. You can't keep talking about this is the life I want, I see it, I know what it takes to get there but put in zero effort.
First things first I knew I had to get to a place where I could get rest. I used to do everything in my room. Sleep, watch tv, do homework, just any and everything. But your room is for sleep and if your doing everything in your room then your body doesn't equate your room with sleep. So I do my work downstairs at the kitchen table, I do not watch tv in my room especially not within an hour or two of me going to sleep. I literally stay out of my room unless I'm going to cleaning up, getting dressed or going to sleep. I now go to bed with enough time to get at least 7 hours of rest. I also wake up at the same time everyday (even on my day off). The very latest I will sleep is 7am. Since doing this I have found that my body naturally wakes up, even before my alarm. And I get up and start my day, even if that's at 5am.
I knew I had to get active. This literally gets me out of bed every morning. I wake up excited to get downstairs and do my 10 min abs workout and 30 minutes walk on the treadmill; I walk on the highest incline and started at 3.0 speed (i've gotten up to 3.3). Exercise produces endorphins which are natural painkillers. Fun fact: 5 minutes of physical activity can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects. Exercise has also show to reduce fatigue, improve alertness/concentration and enhance cognitive function. Basically if your body feels better so does your mind and I'm here for all of that. My mental health is just as important to me as my physical health, if not more. My lack of mental wellness has held me back more than anything.
I really had to determine what triggers my anxiety. My short list:
feeling out of control
feeling taken advantage of
comparison (the thief of joy)
Conclusion: God is in control. Trust him.
Be selfish with my time and energy. If something does not serve me I do not entertain it. It's about me right now. What's going to get me to the life that I want. Everyday I wake up and ask myself "What can you do today that will get you to the tomorrow you want?" It's actually the name of my morning alarm. In part the reason why I choose to be single. I would rather spend my Friday night refining a master plan than on a date with someone who may or may not be around next year. I really just don't have the energy or time to care for anyone other than myself. I also know that God is going to make it clear to me when I have met his match for me. I know he is faithful to those who are faithful to him. That's it, that's all.
Change up my diet. Yo this has been crazy in boosting my overall mood, and energy. I was the queen of fast food. My schedule was all over the place and on days when I used to get off at midnight the only thing that's open is good ole' Taco Bell, and McDonalds. I found myself eating fast food late at night, vending machine junk while at work or not at all. For the last few months I have said a big hello to the pescatarian lifestyle. I considered trying vegan (I'm not ready) but I have cut down on dairy and implemented vegan eats in my life like coconut milk, dairy-free yogurt, dairy-free nutella, and other vegan snacks like veggie chips and organic dried mango. Last night I also bought some black bean & quinoa burgers I can't wait to try. The results have been amazing y'all. I don't feel drowsy throughout the day, I have so much energy, my overall quality of life has improved drastically, and i'm not exaggerating. I feel like a new person (this is probably coupled with my self love/care journey).
Journal daily. I'm a writer. It's my passion. It's my calling. I stopped writing for a long time for lack of inspiration. I started writing poetry in junior high and continued throughout college (probably the last time I wrote for myself until recently). So I have a prayer journal which I write in first thing every morning, I have a self love journal so I can look back on this journey, I also have a "in spite of myself" journal where I right down the productive things I tackled everyday despite my anxiety, fear or self doubt. So ill Ill start the entry with: "in spite of my fear I". I used to let my anxiety keep me in bed but now its a trigger. As soon as the pit feeling comes I get up and do something positive like workout, cook, write, love on myself or listen to an uplifting podcast.
Be careful what you watch/listen to. This is so important. What you put in comes out in your actions. I try to minimize secular music to workouts and even then I am super choosy. I won't listen to anything that will get me to think about my past, degrades woman or glorifies the fast lifestyle. Am I perfect, no. I do have days where I will play a little hip hop to get me motivated to work out. I also try to minimize my tv intake, especially before bed. TV is trash. I'm even thinking about removing the TV from my room. It's just junk, like 98% of it. This man is cheating on this woman. This girl is hating on this girl. I can't take it. I was so excited when Blackish finally came back. Right now my TV intake is Project Runway, The Bold Type and Younger. (Right now I'm fasting from TV for the rest of the year. I want to spend that time in my bible, writing, creating content, reading, cooking and enjoying the people around me. TV is just another form of comparison. It create fantasies & those fantasies create panic, at least in me, & then they bleed into my dreams and stimulate my fear and anxiety.)
Limit social media scrolling. I am on social media multiple times throughout the day to share content but I have really limited who I keep up with. It's so easy to compare your life to peoples highlight reels. I'm sure folks think I have a perfect life, something I have struggled with since childhood (writing on this soon) and even more as adult trying to fulfill my dreams and create a life for myself. My parents have done very well for themselves and in turn I have reaped many benefits BUT that doesn't mean my life is perfect. Material things don't make me happy. Material things are a temporary fix, the adrenaline of something new is gone in a couple weeks and your problem or unhappiness is still there. That's why no one can buy me or buy my love. I'm not into it. I'd rather you give me an hour of undivided attention than give me a Chanel bag (that's just me, i'm not knocking anybody). I used to spend my entire Saturday watching everyone live it up brunching, going to the beach, chillen' with bae and it made me feel awful because I was stuck at work until midnight. I had to unfollow a lot of my favorite bloggers, influencers and celebrities for this. Now on Saturdays I don't scroll at all and I recently turned my data off for all my social media platforms so that I can only use it on wifi. This has literally been a life saver. (Back in October I was unexpectedly asked to transfer to a new location within my company and now work Saturday mornings and off Sundays; God really came thru on this one, but I still try to limit my social media scrolling and I'm really considering deleting the app from my phone for a few weeks when I return from vacation (celebrating my birthday/holiday in Mexico). Social media has a way of being in the way if you don't watch yourself!
So what routines have you all put in place improve your mental/physical health and live your best life? xo