For most of my life, I have been prioritizing everyone else before myself. Being the oldest of four girls, my parents expected that I set a positive example for my younger sisters and look after them as needed. Starting with my younger sisters as a child into adolescence, then friends in early adulthood, and now my own family over the past decade.
Over the past few years, I have inconsistently tried to focus more on my health. Often we are told that it takes three weeks to form a habit. I would try something for a few weeks, but then work got busy, and/or kid activities prevented me from finding time for myself. The unexpected pause of life that the pandemic introduced provided the time for me to commit to focusing on my holistic wellness.
I tend to focus on my “bad” habits, then disappoint myself that I don’t succeed dwelling, thus on those “bad” habits—what a vicious and unproductive cycle! Within the past year, I’ve tried to redirect my focus on “good” habits and dedicate them to my daily routine. I am a visual person so writing down goals and tracking my progress is a big motivator.
Every day I prioritize “me time” including high-intensity exercising for 30 minutes per day, six days/a week (with a 30-minute walk on Sundays). On my weekly walks, I would mostly listen to a true crime podcast or walk with a friend, which I still may do throughout the week. However, this year my goal is to dedicate Sundays for a walk by myself to reflect on the week and mentally plan the week ahead.
Another mental health tool that I find therapeutic is reading. Every day I aim to read for 30 minutes to an hour before bed to wind down for the day. My goal for 2023 is to read one book per week. I track the books I read in GoodReads and find it satisfying to update my progress in the app and make strides toward my annual reading goal.
While my day job is project manager, I also try to apply what I do in my day job to my personal life. Much like process improvement and Agile methodology, it’s also important to utilize these practices for your own wellness. Daily journaling to reflect on what went well, what did not go well, and what strategies to implement for improvement is very helpful. Not only do I feel great achievement from my reaffirming Apple Watch for meeting health goals, but I also track my progress on an Excel spreadsheet that helps me feel like I’m achieving my daily goals.
The bottom line? Making time for yourself improves your overall wellness. What I have learned is that I am unable to care for others unless my daily needs are fulfilled so that I am my best self for them. That has made a great difference in caring for my family and being successful at my job.