I’ve learned that there are daily wellbeing habits that I simply must do if I’m going to stay mentally and physically balanced. Honestly, tweens and teens suck your emotional tank dry faster than they eat through a week’s worth of groceries.
I’ve done a lot of work on myself over the past few years. I’m very happy (quite literally) to report that the internal angst and fretting was worth it. I’m in a good place.
I hope you are too. Really, really hope that as the busyness of raising little kids has grown into the emotional turmoil that is raising bigger kids, you are in a good place.
Because it’s different! 6 ways I’ve changed how I’m parenting the teen years
To keep my balance, I’ve found the daily wellbeing habits that work for me and I’m sticking with them. I think half the battle is figuring out what habits benefit you the most and then making time for them on the daily.
There’s been loads of research around forming good habits and breaking bad ones. I can highly recommend both BJ Fogg and his Tiny Habits and James Clear’s Atomic Habits. If you need some help with getting started, these two will set you right.
Try out a few different daily rituals to see what works for you. For some, it will be candle-lit baths and meditation (both not for me), for others it will be a 10k run and ‘eating clean’ (also not for me). Playing an instrument, sleeping in, being creative, talking to your mum – find your own good things and make them stick! Here are mine:
1. Daily wellbeing habits #1: Move
I was never an exerciser, in the truest sense of the word. I dabbled with some success in yoga, less success with the gym and team sports thing. Nothing stuck for me. I couldn’t get it into my head that exercising daily was the key to good mental and physical health. Moving occasionally wasn’t going to do it.
This past year, I’ve found my ‘things’. I’ve religiously done Pilates every day (three days a week it’s a reformer and strengths training class and the other four is a 15-20 minute mat routine at home). I love it, it clears both my head and my body and it means my ‘broken’ body is managing normal things again. (That’s a story for another day).
I also run or walk every single day. My run is 5K (very slowly – let me be clear: that is not a picture of me above!!!) three times a week. I walk about the same distance on the other days. Again, good for heart, mind and soul and a non-negotiable for me. If I can turn into such an exercise junkie, then trust me, you can too. I started very, very, very small and slowly built up. Low expectations equal big results for me. I just keep plugging away at it.
2. Daily wellbeing habits #2: Outside
One of the reasons that I’m so gung-ho about running and walking each day is that it takes me outside. When the kids were little, it was my mantra. There wasn’t a shitty day that time outside couldn’t solve. I’ve pretty much been out there daily ever since.
There’s my run / walk each day – twice a week that’s on the bush tracks near my home. I also get out into the garden most days, even if it’s just for a short while. In the warmer months I try to swim in our pool each morning, or just sit on my front or back verandahs with a cup of tea on other days. I can’t recommend being in nature enough. Feel the sun or rain on your skin and let being outside heal you.
3. Daily wellbeing habits #3: Check-in
Each day, I check in with my husband, my kids and myself. Here’s what the kid check-in looks like:
Quick and important: Parenting older kids: The daily kid check-in
The husband check-in is pretty much the same thing: just a quick, deliberate chat about how his day went, what he’s looking forward to tomorrow and what I can do to help him with any struggles. My self check-in is done through a gratitude journal. Every night before I go to sleep, I jot down three things I’m grateful for that day.
I’ll often also write out a quick list of whatever is troubling me – it’s helpful to write it down so the journal can take care of the list for me. Leaving it in my head means I fret over it like the massive insomniac I can be.
And a few more (that aren’t always daily, but still)
The above three daily wellbeing habits- exercising, getting outside and checking in with my dearest – are my non-negotiables. There are also a few more things that I try to do for my wellbeing as often as possible:
Eat as close to nature as possible – this is something that I get right about 80% of the time. There is not a lot of processed food in my life.
Drink plenty of water – I’d say I do this daily. I keep a two litre bottle on my desk which I fill up each night and chill in the fridge. We’ve also got an ice and water dispenser on the outside of our new fridge. That’s been a godsend for getting both myself and the kids to drink more water.
Limit screen time – I’m on a screen most of the day for work, so it makes sense to can it at night when I can. In any given week, I don’t watch a lot of Netflix (though when I do, I love it). I mostly read books, hang out with the husband, create something, meet friends or listen to podcasts or tunes.
I hope this has been helpful in outlining what works for me. Maybe it will work for you too? At the very least, put some thought into what is important to your own wellbeing. What do you enjoy doing that will help if you try to do it daily? What kinds of things make you feel mentally balanced and refreshed? Putting structure around the things that matter to us is the best way to move closer to good mental and physical wellbeing. Best of luck to you!
What are your own daily wellbeing habits?