“It doesn’t matter how many times you fall off the wagon of whatever healthy change / habit you are trying to implement, the key here is to get back on quickly and in a shorter amount of time than you used to. Change isn’t a short-term quick fix or a one-time thing. It is a constant struggle that eventually turns into a lifelong habit.” – Becky Tide
In the brighter, warmer, months of spring and summer I have more energy so I get up somewhere between 5-5:30 am, whereas in the darker, colder months of autumn and winter I have less energy so it is between 6-6:30 am. Of course there are off days in both sets of seasons where I can sleep in until 9-10 am, I work from home so it is not too bad but it can still be rather annoying.
The Catalyst Leading To Change.
However, this never used to be the case. Back when I was younger, I used to sleep a lot. If it was the weekend, I mostly got up around 9-10 am but my ideal time was 12-1 pm. I never would call myself a night owl or an early bird. I just liked to sleep. I mean a lot. All day and all night if I could.
It got worse when I first developed depression around the time of my parents’ divorce. (I had always struggled with social anxiety since I was a kid so this just added to my issues). I would take frequent naps whenever I could but found myself even more tired and soon started struggling with insomnia, not to mention really achy joints and muscles from not moving my body enough.
One day, around November 2012, I decided that I couldn’t live like this anymore. I was sick of feeling depressed and though I had had counselling twice, once each year during my A-levels, I didn’t really like my second counsellor and vowed I would never have counselling again. I have never been formally diagnosed with social anxiety and depression by a psychiatrist, as my GP didn’t want to go down the medication route because I was only 17 going on 18, so only had counselling, and I never liked the idea of medication anyway.
I am a big believer in self-sufficiency. I prefer learning to help myself first and then seeking help from close family and friends before seeking professional help. I think taking control of your own physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health and well-being should be a top priority in all our lives.
So, what did I do to take back control and how can you do so too?
Becoming a Morning(ish) Person and Exercise.
I decided that I wanted to make exercise a habit. An actual proper habit that I would stick to. I had tried on and off but I struggle with sticking to things. Plus, even though it’s only my family in my house I just don’t like exercising in front of or near people. Weird, I know but I’m sure other people have that anxiety too. My bedroom is too small so the living room is the only big enough space to exercise in.
The only option for me then was to get up earlier than I used to and to get up earlier than everyone else. I started by slowly setting my alarm for 15 minutes earlier than the time I was used to getting up until I was getting up at 7 am. I made this a consistent habit before I tried getting up any earlier.
I still didn’t like traditional forms of exercise, though I did love going for walks so I aimed to do that every day. It was really helpful that I have a dog who demands walkies and gets irritating and in your face and wanting to play all day when you are trying to do something else and she hasn’t gone out that day.
Eventually, I was getting consistent with that and even downloaded the Zombies, Run! App for added motivation. I also managed to start getting up at 5 am! Woohoo!
And you know what I found? I found that I actually am much more productive earlier in the mornings. Crazy right? My circadian rhythm (sleep cycle) prefers a lot of sleep, but my productivity levels prefer early mornings. That’s it! I am a paradox! I am absolutely a paradox!
I do have my moments when it is extremely hard to get out of bed, my natural tendency is to be lazy and sleep in all day, and then I do give in and sleep that little bit extra. But now I find that I don’t fall back into old habits as easily as I used to.
I used to beat myself up about it. A lot. I used to fall back into my old habits and go weeks or months without getting up and then slowly, with time and patience and trying again each new day, I found myself getting back on track a little bit quicker than before. Now I work out in the mornings and actually love it. I talk a little bit about this in future posts.
The key is to find something you enjoy, something that motivates you to get out of bed and move your body.
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In what ways have you taken back control over your own life?