There’s a phrase I adore, and I truly believe it holds the key to so much self-love. “The grass is greener where you water it” (Neil Barringham). It’s so simple yet it presents you with a challenge. The grass may be greener on the other side, but the reason this might be is because you’re spending too much time peeking over the fence instead of taking care of your own lawn. As I’ve become more and more independent (and ultimately responsible for my well-being), I’ve learned to recognize the importance in self-care and healthy habits. I’m gonna speak about different types self care another time but for today, I would like to discuss some habits I worked on developing.
There's a myriad of habits that are supposed to keep you healthy, help you live a better life, stay uncluttered, focused, productive, kind, and so on. But the main fact is that habits are built out of consistency, if not they’d just be actions, mere occurrences. And here’s where I struggle. Consistency is probably one of the hardest things for me. I have taken every class and participated in every sport you can think of. Not because I’m particularly gifted (quite the opposite) but because I rarely remain consistent and stick it out with one thing.
There are three habits though that I can flaunt with pride. I always wear sunscreen, I drink water like there’s no tomorrow, and I make my bed every day. Ever since I was a kid my mom taught me to wear sunscreen. My grandma has always had incredible skin, and that’s always been her number one advice, so without much of a fight and following their example, I got into the habit of wearing sunscreen. I would never so much as dare leave the house without it, and I’ve been known to even wear it at night if I’m going out because I hate the thought of make up touching my face directly (is this healthy? Probs not lol whatever).
When it comes to drinking water it comes entirely natural- if not necessary, to get through the average 8 glasses of water a day. I think it’s kind of a vice at this point, just always sipping on something, but it keeps me hydrated AF I must say. Making my bed is also absolutely necessary for me, and very important for my mental health. There’s nothing I hate more than arriving home to an un-made bed. It makes me cringe. Of course on occasion I run around all day and forget to bring my water bottle with me, or sleep late and have to get ready in minus ten minutes and I’ve sacrificed making the bed. But a solid 95% of my days go by well hydrated, and start with a bed made in the morning and a face lathered with sunscreen. Not drinking enough water or skipping the sunscreen could affect my health, and not making the bed really affects my productivity and plain desire to be home. These are habits I like to consider healthy, or at least positive for me.
As proud as I am of at least doing three things moderately right in life, there are many habits I wish I could adopt. I read somewhere (lololol no I didn’t, I’ve just heard it around enough to accept it as a fact) that it takes 21 days to build a habit. So I decided to challenge myself to pursue three actions, daily, for 21 days, in order for them to become habits in my life.
For this test I’ve decided to meditate daily for 5 minutes, to remove my makeup every night (I’m the worst at this!), and to go to bed by 11:00 pm. I think three measurable actions will be a good way to determine whether I’m achieving this particular goal. Being in bed by 11 will definitely be the biggest challenge, as I’m on my way to visit family and I foresee a lot of late nights catching up, going out for dinner, and watching movies together. But time will tell!
To help me stay accountable I downloaded the app Productive. The app helps you set habits you want to develop; it allows you to schedule them into the morning, evening, or particular times of the day. It sends out push notifications to help you remember, it allows you to track your actions, and measure your streaks and achievements. Streaks have always been a great way to make me obsess over completing something. So I’m really banking on this feature.
10 days in
I have actually achieved meditating and removing my make up for 10 days straight. And I have a newfound admiration for meditation and proper skin care. There’s a lot more I want to delve into both these areas. But I knew I had to start somewhere. My makeup removing routine is limited to Neutrogena wipes, but that’s hell of a step for me. I only really wear make up for my eyes (concealer, eye liner, mascara) and I don’t wear foundation on bases or anything of the sorts. Initially I thought I was doing my homework by only wiping my eye make up away, but soon I realized that cleaning my whole face felt even better and fresher, and I’m sure it’s just as important to remove whatever dirt gets on your face from daily life.
I had two methods to go about my meditation. Since I’m an absolute beginner I definitely felt like I needed a guide for these mental me-times. I downloaded the app Headspace to help me navigate the few minutes I intended to meditate for and I followed the 5-step guide to a more peaceful mind by InnergiZing’s Francesca Davila (she’s dope check her out!). The guide helped me on particularly difficult days. It was a great way to step out of a flustered mind and into a day of clarity. Although the five steps are very easy to follow, it’s definitely challenging in that you’re training the mind to do something new. Having a set time for these exercises helped quite a bit, and it allowed me get used (and honestly anticipate and look forward to) these moments of clarity. The more I followed these steps the more I intuitively knew how to, and the more natural it came.
On the other hand, the Headspace app has options for 3, 5 and 10 minute guided meditations. I started off at 5 and soon increased to 10. I meditate right as I start the day. I find it surprising how I can perfectly afford the time to do this. For long, in the rush of the morning, I never felt like it would be worth waking up even a minute earlier for anything. Forcing myself to make this a part of my routine has helped me start my days with an uncluttered head and better purpose. It’s not unlikely for me to wake up and scroll aimlessly through social media while I continue to snooze my alarm. Now, instead, I’m being intentional in taking the time to sit up, get comfortable, and meditate away.
I have, however, failed miserably at going to bed at 11 pm. I want to blame it on my visit home, as I’ve been out late a lot. I’ve had a perfect streak on the app for removing make up and meditating and it’s getting on my nerves that this is ruining my stats. I’ve been close to deleting it from the list of habits altogether.
My body’s saying yes but my mind’s saying no, no.
20 days in
I deleted it. I think quite honestly it was the wrong time to attempt to be asleep by 11 pm, and constantly not achieving it was just pissing me off. It will be a goal for another time.
I’ve continued to meditate and remove my make up quite effectively, and both actions do really just feel like a part of my life now. I find that making them a part of bigger routines that already existed made it so much simpler as well. Say if I’m already gonna brush my teeth, what’s holding me back from just grabbing a wipe and removing my make up too?
60 days in
Day 21 went by and my habits have remained with me. The removing of the make up has become incredibly necessary. I feel dirty going to bed without washing my face and removing my make up and I actually quite like that it’s gotten to that point. I’ve been following up with night cream and I feel like a goddess of softness on Earth sent from above to spread my gospel. I love me some soft skin. I’ve been fascinated with where the meditation has brought me and I look forward to learning so much more about this. If you have any experience you’d like to share I’m all ears!
I really hope I’ll be able to continue to practice these habits as I can see and feel the positive impact they have on me. It’s definitely an experiment I want to keep trying and expanding on, and I think measuring it – and counting down days – made it feel so much more attainable. The idea of changing your routine forever can be quite daunting but expecting to do something for 21 days doesn’t sound all that bad. By the time you realize these days have gone by, you’ll be used to your new habit, will have seen some progress and results, and will quite likely wanna stick with it.
I’d be interested next in perhaps “breaking” some habits. Not bringing my technology to the bed would definitely be up on the list. But for the moment, let me just relish in the glory of soft makeup-less skin and clear, uncluttered thoughts.