Four Habits I’m Starting in 2021
One of the best years of my life was 2017.
It was the year I got married, so it was partly because of that. But it was the year that I had the healthiest habits of my life.
I was only 20 years old and getting married, so I wanted to make sure I was as “ready” to be married as I possibly could be. That led me to research some things that would make me most at peace and most happy. I wanted to enter my new season of life on the right foot.
In 2017, I started doing yoga every morning. This was big for me because I have never, and I mean never, done anything athletic regularly in my life. I started doing yoga mostly to calm my mind, but it turned out to be more physically demanding than I originally thought. This allowed me to get more in shape and physically healthier.
In 2017 I also had a quiet time with the Lord at one point every day. The year prior, I had started trying to read the Bible from cover to cover, and in 2017 I reached that goal. I actually read the last passage on my wedding day.
This was the year I also drank almost a gallon of water a day, finally did something about my adult acne, started regularly getting “ready” for the day, and journaled a lot.
That year I doodled a lot (I love drawing), wrote poems, tried new makeup looks and hairstyles, made an effort to talk to more people than just my circle of friends, and pushed myself to become a better version of what I had been.
2017 was the year I tried harder than I ever had in my life. I had so much passion for life, so much energy, and I was full of excitement for my new season.
3 1/2 years of marriage, one college degree earned, 5 moves, 2 kids and 1 dog later, and we’re here in 2021. And I can honestly say I feel nowhere close to how I felt in 2017.
That sounds awful to say, because my life has so many joys in it. I really truly love my husband with all my heart, and my kids are the best things to happen to me. But my brain isn’t right anymore. Yes, I’m going to therapy (my first appointment is in two days!) but I know I need more than that.
So a few days into the new year, I started journaling again. This started from a devotional I got into. It’s a Christian one called “Life in His Presence” by Sarah Young, and it has questions and blank areas where you’re supposed to answer. This kind of forced me to start journaling again. And once I started there, these little bursts of motivation started springing up everywhere. In the last week and a half, I started drinking a ton of water again, after years of feeling guilty that I wasn’t drinking enough. I started “getting ready” for the day more, like putting on a little makeup or styling my hair (this surprisingly has had a huge impact on my confidence- it helps me feel like I can conquer the day). I started listening to self-help podcasts. I started working out (!!!!). And all of this started just from me opening my Bible again, as cheesy as that sounds. I truly believe God blesses us with joy, peace, and this case, motivation, when we open the door to Him.
I realized that 2017 was the year I actually put effort in myself. Since then, I’ve been pushing myself through mounds of homework to graduate college, had two dramatic pregnancies, gave birth twice, started raising children, and just surviving through the massive amounts of change we were going through in all those years. We were in transition that entire time, always working to get to that goal of ours. This can be good, but it made me lose sight of myself. I became hyper-focused on just surviving, and with that came higher levels of depression and anxiety.
I stopped trying to better myself. I stopped praying or reading the Bible as much. I stopped trying to look good because I was pregnant for almost two years straight. I stopped putting on makeup or making myself look pretty because of hormonal acne exploding on my face. I stopped having hobbies or trying to eat healthy. And then we reached a more permanent spot in our lives, and it slowed down a bunch. I took a deep breath, I looked around, and I realized I had lost myself during that time. But you know what?
That’s okay. It’s okay if you’ve lost yourself a little bit. We’re all going to go through seasons like that. Life gets busy sometimes, or we just go through mental rough patches. But I want to tell you today that you will not get out of that season if you do not try. And even if your life doesn’t get to a “permanent place” like mine did, you have to eventually learn to separate yourself from the chaos to find yourself again.
You need to put that foot forward. You need to pull the trigger. If you’re depressed right now, stop waiting for something to change. I hate to break it to you, but you have to be the one to change. I know that sucks to hear, because depression makes us have zero motivation. But I promise you that healing doesn’t come from a person, moment, or place you’re waiting for. Anxiety doesn’t calm down from that either. You have to take action, and fight for yourself.
Try to do a few things for yourself every day. If you don’t love your appearance and you think that is affecting your joy, try changing something up. Start a new hobby, one that you’ve secretly always wanted to start but felt like you never had enough time. Eat healthy or get active- both of those things naturally release those good happy chemicals! Write down 5 things you love about your life and pin it somewhere you look every day. Whatever it is, you have to try something. You deserve to be happy, but it’s not just going to be handed to you.
So, to fight for myself, here are four things I’m doing in 2021:
1. Attending therapy twice a month
2. Doing a quiet time once a day, preferably in the morning. (this can be meditation, moments of silence, breaks from your phone, anything like that)
3. Listening to a podcast or reading regularly about ways to self-improve.
4. Doing something active at least once every day
Join with me on this. Think about some simple habits you want to form this year to combat your mental illness. I’m on this journey with you.
My first therapy session is in two days and I am full of nervous excitement. I can’t wait to share how it goes and what I learned. Stay tuned!