Hi, I'm Michelle, and I'm an anxious person.
So going into a new year, I decided to take steps to change all of that.
Before getting started, I read everything I could get my hands on about self-care and ~well-being~.
Then I rounded up a bunch of the most popular habits and made a month-long schedule during which I'd try them all.
All in all, here's what I learned along the way.*
*And obviously, my findings are based on my personal circumstances, genetic predispositions, and weird illogical preferences. So, just take 'em with a grain of salt, since what worked for me (or didn't) might not work for you (or will!).
1. I'm impatient AF, so I thought I'd hate meditation. But I was wrong.
2. Podcasts didn't change my life, but I did get answers to a few questions I didn't even know I had.
3. Keeping a gratitude journal was something I immediately loved.
4. But essential oils did nothing for me, except give me a headache.
5. Yoga was *really* uncomfortable at first, but actually turned out to be the best thing I tried all month.
6. Shutting off my screens at 9 p.m. didn't have the relaxing effect I thought it would.
7. My white noise app was supposed to be soothing, but stressed me out instead. *face palm*
8. Quitting alcohol for a week made me pretty asocial, but I think it's because I went about it the wrong way.
9. Puzzles wore me out (in a good way!), made me sleepy, and were actually pretty addictive. 🤓
10. Beauty self-care (in the form of face masks!) turned out to be the nicest thing I did for myself on any given day.
11. Forcing myself to go to bed early (and getting that extra two hours of sleep) made my mornings extra peaceful and set a ~zen~ tone for the day.
12. Reading turned out to be a commitment-free way to entertain myself.
13. Ditching coffee for a week made me realize that I'm actually — gasp! — better off without the stuff in the mornings.
So, after a month of experimenting, here're my TL;DR on what actually worked for me:
• Meditation via Headspace: I used it to "scrub" my mind in the mornings and set it to a clean slate. I've also used it during the day to help me calm down during moments of high stress.
• Keeping a gratitude journal: Reminding myself, on a daily basis, of what I already have, continues to give me clarity on how to deal with my stress and how everything fits into the bigger picture.
• Yoga: Combines meditation with exercise = win/win.
• Shutting off all screen usage (laptops, TVs, and iPhone) after 9 p.m.: Though it wasn't a cure-all, this helped in reducing the prebedtime buzz in my head.
• Doing a puzzle: Loved this! A good, mindless, yet just-challenging-enough activity to turn your attention away from your ruminating.
• Reading an escapist book: Though it takes a little more effort, reading has been and always will be a way for me to feel less alone in the world.
• Beauty self-care: Don't mind if I do. 💅
• Going to bed two hours earlier than usual: More sleep = less repetitive negative thoughts at night + more time in the morning to read/meditate/do yoga.