Soda-Free April: Day 1

Levelling Up and Productivity

When I started 2019 I had wanted to spend every month work on a new challenge or habit. During January I worked on ‘Saying yes’ (no blog post) and was really successful (never done karaoke before…) . In March I didn’t have a particular challenge, but I did work on consistently doing exercise I found fun… Like dancing – badly 🙂

This April I’m cutting out all carbonated drinks! Ironically this become a bit of a problem during my no takeaway challenge back at the end of last year, which just shows how your dependencies can shift onto something else.

Rules:

1. No carbonated drinks, at all.

2. Juice or a pint or two if I’m out with friends.

3. Drink more water! I just bought a new bottle — nothing fancy, it was super cheap — and hoping to use it at work.

That’s it! I can’t imagine this being extremely hard past the first week or so — I mostly get cravings when I buy a meal deal or something like that, as I would typically get a coke or something with it. I mostly want to cut that out, and rehydrate 🙂

Will update more this week!

You don’t have to do it happily. You just have to do it.

Levelling Up and Productivity, Mental Fitness

So often, we live our lives expecting to feel a certain way. When we inevitably don’t, we question our actions, and often punish ourselves for feeling that emotion.

I’m angry about this ‘small’ thing; I must be overreacting. I’m too anxious to speak up; I’m a coward. I feel nervous about this interview; I can’t do it.

However, there’s something to be said for taking meaningful action regardless of how you feel. Repeating the mantra in the title (‘I don’t have to feel X’. I just have to do it’ takes the pressure off me to feel a certain way. I can choose my actions based on all the information I have, not just emotions — and I can avoid shaming myself for those feelings, since I took the valued action regardless.

Here’s some examples:

Discomfort-zoned

Levelling Up and Productivity, Mental Fitness, Values based living

My habitual response to discomfort is to run, avoid, or to distract from the problem with something. Examples:

  • Feel anxious about work, or imposter syndrome –immediately want to leave my job and find somewhere else.
  • Feel tired or stressed: nap my problems away or watch YouTube videos until I feel better.
  • Get annoyed at a friend or situation: complain or vent about it instead of taking any action to fix it.
  • Know I should write a blog post, but I don’t feel inspired so I don’t wanna: avoid it. (admittedly I’ve been steadily writing my novel as well, but I am hardly trying to fit blogging in either)

My journey in cutting out compulsions has gotten pretty far, but I must fill my time with useful things, or I’ll start relapsing. It is in incremental steps so far, as I mentioned in my previous post about small wins: committing to the tiniest action as often as I can. Writing a paragraph, playing one scale on guitar, putting on my exercise clothes. It’s working well so far, as the act of starting usually propels me into doing more.

However, ironically, a discomfort I need to move towards is feeling like I’m ‘not doing well enough’ at moving towards discomfort! I tend to put myself down, and sometimes the struggle towards doing more comes from a feeling of inadequacy and unhappiness with my life, rather than just wanting to do more things I like.

But I’m doing fine. And I can act, and do things I value, and love myself — regardless of the discomfort that brings.

The importance of small wins

Levelling Up and Productivity, Values based living

Honestly, I can hardly bring myself to write a post. For various reasons I’ve been very sleep deprived this week (bad sleep hygiene, mostly!). My motivation is pretty much non-existent in most areas of my life.

But I read Atomic Habits recently, and because of that I’m trying to rely on small habits, and small victories, instead. I need the consistency first before I can think about doing things for a long period of time.

Meditating every day, but for only a minute.

Studying Korean every day, but I just do one topic or podcast or video.

Playing guitar every day, but I run through one scale or one technique or piece of theory (I’ve had the most progress I’ve ever had in guitar because of this, after hitting the intermediate slump for several years).

Writing my novel every day, but only for twenty minutes.

The blog hasn’t quite fit in yet — but I hope I will work out how to, even if it’s just a paragraph every week.

Creating a Mental Health Fitness Plan

Levelling Up and Productivity, Mental Fitness, Values based living

We’re almost two weeks into the new year. Gyms all over the world have been  inundated with newcomers suddenly motivated to achieve their fitness goals that they started to neglect at the end of the year. I myself have been trying to get back into yoga and start bouldering again, with the help of Yoga with Adriene and (hopefully) my colleagues.

Still, regardless of whether people actually achieve their fitness goals — the joke is that people often don’t, of course — it’s seen as such a normal thing to create a plan for physical fitness and stick to it. Even people who can only manage one push up are aware on some level that regular exercise is necessary to keep our bodies working. Not quite so for mental health, where most of us believe we’re fine until we’re not, with little thought about how we got there.

Mental health is not seen as a skill that can build or deteriorate with time; it’s something you have or don’t. But since reading Mark Freeman’s book, The Mind Workout, I’ve often wondered — why aren’t there easy, accessible routines to follow for mental fitness?