Things are feeling kind of crazy and overwhelming right now, especially if you’re a parent with kids in school,
especially if you’re an entrepreneur trying to figure out how to operate in this climate,
especially if you’re a new parent trying to keep your unvaccinated baby safe,
especially if you’re a front line worker coming into contact with people every day,
especially if you’re [fill life circumstances in here]
We’re all feeling a bit, shall we say, unhinged, overwhelmed and unsure what’s coming and what we should do about it.
Yep, there are a lot of things happening right now that are out of your control.
I can’t tell you that it’s all going to be all right because I’m not a fortune teller, I don’t know your situation and the truth is that for some people it’s not going to be or feel alright.
So what can you do in times of uncertainty like this?
You can take control of what’s in your control.
And what’s in your control is what you think, say, feel and do.
As this pandemic stretches on for an indeterminate length of time, you can find peace and comfort in the fact (yes, FACT) that you control your thoughts, your words, your feelings and your actions.
In this post, I’m focusing on actions and feelings because it’s common for people to feel better by taking even one small action.
So to support you in taking action that makes you feel more in control, I’ve created a gift for you. It’s a habit tracker.
Now before you think “Ugh! Lame!” let me explain why tracking your habits will make you feel more in control and less stressed.
Business management guru Peter Drucker famously said, “What gets measured gets managed.” Put another way, you pay attention to the things you track.
So if you’re not consciously choosing and tracking your daily habits, you could be filling your day with activities that don’t serve you. If you’ve ever tried to stop or start a habit and have failed miserably, I’ll bet you didn’t have any kind of accountability or record to keep you motivated.
Whether you are aware of it or not, your life is built on habits. If you maintain healthy habits, you generally have a healthy life. If you adopt unhealthy habits, you generally have an unhealthy life (genetics and unexpected illnesses aside).
Do you head to the nearest drive through for tea or coffee each morning? Habit.
Have a shower every day? Habit
Always put your shoes on right foot first? Habit
Check your phone as soon as you wake up? Habit
You get the idea.
Habits can impact both your physical and mental well-being. When you institute objectively good habits, such as exercising, eating healthy and getting enough sleep, life tends to run smoothly and you can handle the odd bump in the road (a.k.a. stress). Habits such as smoking, eating a lot of junk food and sitting for long periods leave your body and brain weaker and more prone to disease.
In an article about resilience, the American Psychological Association points to self-care, practicing mindfulness and being proactive among the things that help build resilience.
I went through a period of not getting enough sleep during the second half of last year and that habit wreaked havoc on my life. I had also stopped prioritizing my fitness. This was NOT contributing to my health or success.
So I instituted some habits that have been scientifically proven to help with mental clarity, good sleep, physical fitness, and self-motivation.
Aside from the fact that I LOVE giving myself gold stars for doing the things on my habit tracker, these habits are going to give me both short and long term gains.
Most of them take just a couple of minutes a day, such as my affirmations, which I wrote and recorded for myself (I’ll talk about that in a future blog post). Others, such as my 1 hour of exercise and morning meditation, take more time, but I’ve decided the benefits are worth the investment of time. They are an investment in my current and future self.
So in this time of uncertainty, take control of what you can. Institute habits that make you feel good and contribute to your overall long-term well-being. You’ll be better able to face whatever life throws at you.
And track them.
Download the Excel Sheet or copy the Google Sheet I’ve created, fill in the new habits you want, print it out and start tracking. If you need more motivation, start a challenge with a friend to see who has the most gold stars at the end of each month.
One final suggestion: choose habits that you’re having trouble starting or maintaining in your life. If you already have healthy habits that are well-entrenched, keep doing them but don’t necessarily put them on your list. You’re already a rock star at them. The purpose of this exercise is to motivate yourself to practice habits that you want more of in your life.
Some ideas to get you started:
Meditate each morning
Gratitude list: 3+ things you’re grateful for each day
30+ minutes of exercise
Walk at lunch
Drink 8 glasses of water daily
30 minutes of reading
Turn technology off at 8:30pm
Let me know how it goes: firstname.lastname@example.org.