Gretchen Rubin’s book, Better Than Before, about making and breaking habits based on your personality tendencies, was a true game-changer for me. Inspired by Rubin’s “Twelve Personal Commandments,” I identified the four pillars of my “daily feel-good foundation.” As someone who easily leans towards depressed mood (often without even noticing), I’ve found these four healthy habits make day-to-day life a lot easier and more enjoyable. I tweak and adjust little things all the time, but these are the basics:
1. SLEEP. Perhaps the most significant habit I broke is my lifelong snooze button abuse. I’ve had trouble waking up for as long as I can remember. Until this year, during the work week, I had to set my alarm a full hour before I planned on getting up just to accomodate repeated snoozing. Now I use a progressive alarm clock app that dings with increasing frequency over 10 minutes (you can adjust the time window) and I leave my phone in the bathroom so I have to get up to turn it off. Making the bed immediately after helps stop me from going back to sleep, too. As much of a night person I am through and through, I also have been forcing myself to go to sleep early and at the same time every night. I am never thrilled about going to sleep at 10pm!, but I recognize that prioritizing eight hours of sleep makes it easier to keep up the other habits.
2. EAT. Dr. Frank Lipman’s Be Well Cleanse is a full dietary reset I do every year. Three shakes and two healthy meals a day makes cleansing almost effortless with no feeling of deprivation. Once I hit the “cleanse flow” I feel like I could do it forever. Even with a vicious sweet tooth like mine, this program kicks all sugar cravings completely. The mood improvement is motivation enough to maintain the healthy eating. As an abstainer, not moderator, I know refined sugars have no place in my everyday life. I also cook the majority of my meals so I know exactly what I’m eating and drink 3-4 liters of water a day with this.
3. MOVE. Physical activity is non-negotiable for my mood. I don’t care if “I feel like it,” which I almost never do at the start, I need it. Five days a week of Tracy Anderson streaming is a gift from above and so is my weekly one-on-one boxing session where I get to hit shit for an hour. Kundalini yoga, I am learning to like you.
4. BE MINDFUL. Phrases like these often trigger inner eye roll, but it’s just as important as the first three. After joining a 3 min/day x 40 days meditation challenge I saw subtle but incredibly significant shifts. I know I can’t honestly say I don’t have three minutes a day to spare. I do, so I use this guided “Ego Eradictor” meditation every day right now. Lastly, I love the Gratitude Journal app. It’s simple and sends me a reminder asking “What are you grateful for?” every night. I tend to focus solely on the negatives and miss the positives, so this keeps things in perspective. Once I get going, I have a lot to be thankful for, whether it’s nice things I did for myself that day, the willingness to keep up healthy habits or basics like food and running water. I piggyback this with setting my alarm every night.
Photos: Outdoor Voices, of which I want everything. As Rubin says, the best reward for a habit like exercise is something that keeps you exercising (enter good-looking workout clothes).