Big life changes tend to create opportunities to embrace lifestyle changes and as you’re probably aware, I’ve been through some big changes recently. I’ve been increasingly interested in slow living over the past year or so and all these changes in my life have led me to make some positive changes to my lifestyle. A lot of these are things I’ve been ‘meaning to do’ for a long time, things I know I should do, or things I’ve been interested in trying.
The main catalyst for me implementing so many changes and putting an emphasis on ‘slow living’ was my post-natal depression diagnosis. I could no longer continue at the pace I was going and try to ignore or drown out my anxiety and depression.
My doctor recommended a couple of things to help me manage my anxiety and depression and keep things from getting too out of control. They are all little things and sound like common sense but they add up to a big difference in my outlook and how I feel. She recommended getting out into the sun and fresh air for at least 10 minutes every day, exercise, meditation/mindfulness exercises and what is called ‘pleasurable activity scheduling’ (basically adding self care practices and things that I enjoy into my day and actually scheduling them in so I actually do them).
I’ve since added a few more things to my ‘schedule’ of activities and habits from my doctor which have added to my sense of wellbeing and overall happiness.
Morning meditation – this was one that was recommended by my doctor and I’ve taken it up by using mindfulness apps on my phone to get in a quick meditation before I start my day. It is now the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning and just taking about 10 minutes to focus on calming my mind and setting me up for a good start to my day. It’s a much better way to start the day than scrolling through my phone as soon as I wake up (which is what I used to do). The main apps I’ve been using are Smiling Mind, Headspace and Insight Timer. This has been the one that has been hardest to implement if I’m honest. I suck at meditating but listening to this episode and this episode of the Slow Home Podcast made me feel a little better about sucking at it. It’s also really hard to break the habit of checking my phone, which makes me think I should think about implementing a screen free bedroom.
Quitting coffee – this has been huge for me. I am an avowed coffee lover and even still drank a cup a day while I was pregnant. But over the last little while I haven’t been able to stomach the taste of it (I think it’s possibly a reaction to the new medication I’m on?) so I decided to just quit. I feel like I’m sleeping better, my mind is clearer, my appetite has leveled out. I think I took a week or so to adjust to the lack of strong caffeine (I’m still drinking tea) but I’m actually really loving the feeling of not drinking coffee (and the money I’m saving) although it does impact on the ‘getting a coffee’ aspects of my social life!
Drinking tea – this has been a natural consequence of quitting coffee really. I didn’t drink tea very often before but I actually really love tea so I decided to make it a nice little ritual for myself. I went to my favourite tea store (T2) and stocked up on some delicious teas (a mix of flavoured black and herbal) and a lovely new ‘tea for one’ set. I drink some form of black tea (at the moment either Canberra Breakfast or Terrific Toffee) at breakfast, herbal during the day (I’m loving Southern Sunrise and Strawberries and Cream at the moment) or another black tea if I need an extra boost, and a herbal ‘sleep’ tea (Sweet Dreams) after dinner. It’s become a really relaxing treat for myself and it’s creating great cues particularly around my nighttime routine to help me get ready for bed.
No TV on weeknights – another nighttime cue for me and one that I think has helped with my sleep. I’ve stopped watching any TV on weeknights (Monday – Thursday). I found that I was just mindlessly watching TV and could waste a lot of time that could be better spent doing other things! I did let this one slip recently when I was bailed up at home with the flu for almost a week otherwise I would have been bored out of my mind. But now that I’m basically back to full health I need to get better at putting this rule back in place.
No screens after 8.30pm on weeknights – similar to the above but I put away my phone and laptop at 8.30pm on weeknights and don’t let myself use them for the rest of the night. Instead I spend my time reading (or occasionally having a bath).
Reading more – one of the reasons for implementing the above two habits (aside from removing mental clutter and helping me wind down at night) was to give me more time and space to read. I love reading but when I’m stressed or overly anxious I tend to fall back on mindless internet scrolling or watching TV, neither of which actually calms me down. So I’ve created room in my evenings to allow me to read which will ultimately relax me and relieve my anxiety far more effectively than TV ever could.
So those are just some of the (very small) habits that I have built into my day over the past few months to help me manage my anxiety and to live the best possible version of my life. I’m still working on some of them to make them stick but I’m doing my best and I’m happy with the impact they are having on my quality of life.
If you’re interested in looking into slow living or mindfulness a little more, I’ve found the following books really helpful:
- First, We Make the Beast Beautiful by Sarah Wilson
- Mindfulness for Mums and Dads by Diana Korevaar
- Destination Simple by Brooke McAlary
- The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
- Slow Magazine
What are the little habits that help you cope?
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