health · mental health · yoga

Maintaining healthy habits

I’ve finally done it! Unbelievable as it still seems to me, I’ve managed to undertake a regular yoga routine at home. Even more startling? I’m doing yoga in the morning. I know this revelation might cause more of a “duh”-style reaction from you inveterate yogis, or disciplined part-takers in physical activities of different kinds, but for me, it finally signals a return to a less hectic era in my life, when my time was mine to schedule and dispense with as I pleased [cue violins and nostalgic waxing]. That it took my hitting a wall to reinstate this routine got me thinking: what’s the key to maintaining healthy habits, especially this time in the year and academic term, when the beginning of cold and flu season colludes with high-volume marking or deadlines of all kinds? (I’m not even looking at you Aussies, Kiwis, and your fellow hemispheric dwellers basking in spring sun and the many possibilities of incipient summer.)

When the brick-laden cargo of September fades into the past, October brings the expectation of a more routine, tamed, under-control chaos, but it also carries shorter, darker days, the impending doom of ______ (insert # according to geographical region) months of winter and cold weather, and a general malaise that’s hard to counteract. Just as with September’s ton of bricks, in spite of knowing about this cyclicity, I’m still surprised and disappointed when it happens. It’s like, in the interest of survival, I forget the pain. I think I’m all set: here’s my SAD lamp, here’s my determination to go for runs, walks, etc. The reality is that the SAD lamp helps, but it’s not enough when the crazy schedule means there is no time for leisurely walks and/or runs.

So what gives is always the very activities vital to survival, because I always trick myself that “I’ll just finish marking this batch,” or  “I’ll just do another pomodoro to better structure this section of the paper,” and then I’ll go for a walk. Mmhmm. Exactly! The walk never happens, because the daycare program ends at 5:30, but if we don’t get the kids home earlier, they’ll eat a hole through my head, or throw a tantrum so big, even the easy-going, spring-sun-basking Kiwis might feel it.

And that’s why finally starting a routine of morning yoga seems like such an accomplishment to me: it might just save my sanity. I’m determined to make it into a habit, because I’ve put it in my schedule: every morning, after my partner takes the kids to school, I allot it 30 minutes. Après yoga, le déluge, I say! 

What’s your healthy habit (aspiration), and how do you (strive to) maintain it? The more we talk about these health-determining habits (no, I don’t actually speak for your public health authority), the more potential they have to become reality, and keep us sane through the winter. 

One thought on “Maintaining healthy habits

  1. After a month of getting settled in the new job, my partner and I joined our community centre, which has an awesome gym, great classes, and a pool. I was running with a group thrice weekly for a couple of years, but that schedule just wasn't working for me anymore (I always seem to have something on weekday evenings), so this seems like a better and more flexible fit. I've started going before work at least a couple of times a week, and I'm fitting in a Saturday run with friends and a Sunday yoga or Pilates class. I'm actually quite proud of myself.

    I was in a wretched mood a few weekends ago, for no good reason other than realizing that prettily frosting cupcakes is not my forte, and going to the gym was a miraculous cure. It definitely took that to make me realize that burning off steam at the gym or out running is a non-negotiable activity I have to fit into my schedule. It means an earlier wake-up, but it's so worth it. And I'm not having the same issues I had when I was living the old life of the mind, which was justifying time away from research and writing for self-care. I'm finding my (in some ways annoyingly) rigid schedule–my work day is 7:30-5:30, including my commute–a boon. Work stays at work, I can divide up the rest of my time as I like, and I don't feel like all the time is work time, which I did as an academic.


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