Tag Archives: Wildlife

Self care In A Pandemic (47): Effectively Tracking Habits to Create New Daily Disciplines…

Hi everyone,

I hope the first two and a half or three days (depending on which time zone you are in) of 2021 have been kind to you.

We left off with instalment 46 of this series having briefly reviewed the year of 2020. I ended the post with letting you know that I’d share some guided prompts on how we can all take positive steps to move ahead. I realise that I have a lot to share, so instead of trying to condense these various points into one post, I’ll give them their due and treat you with an entire post per point. How’s that for forward steps in 2021? 🙂

So for this post, let’s think about effectively tracking our habits.

The weird and wonderful world of habit trackers:

I personally have my own evolving systems for keeping on top of things in my daily, weekly and monthly life, and I have a yearly planner. I’ve never had a BuJo (bullet journal) myself, although I do incorporate various elements of the bullet journal world into my own planning.

If you are a BuJo-er (is that a word?) then you’ll probably be able to share your advice with me. But if you don’t know what a bullet journal is then there is plenty of information on You Tube regarding how this system started and how people have incorporated the idea to make it personal to them, and there are some very creative approaches out there to bullet journaling that go beyond a method of staying on top of things in your life to making it an art project of itself. I’ll leave it to you to explore some of the inspiring videos out there on You Tube (simply type in bullet journaling and see what you find!).

One of the elements that many people incorporate into their bullet journaling or other planning systems is the habit tracker. Again, some people like to do this quite simply as a list, while other people create more ‘ornate’ as it were diagrams, wheels and even pictorial designs and trackers. Each to their own, I suppose.

What makes for effective habit tracking?

Sometimes looking at what other people track in terms of habits, becomes a bit overwhelming for me. Some people have a habit tracker for almost everything they can think of. If it works for them, that’s fine, but personally, I try to think of what is an effective approach.

The purpose of habit tracking and what not to track:

The purpose of tracking your habits can be very individual. Some people may find it gives them a sense of accomplishment, direction, or maybe even the very act of doing this helps them to slow down and reflect on their day. I personally prefer the good old analogue method of putting pen to paper (in a cute notebook, of course) rather than using a spreadsheet or online tool, but some people are a real whiz at the electronic versions and are super efficient.

The main point here is to find your own style, system and what works for you.

In terms of the purpose of tracking habits in the first place (the very ‘why do it?’ behind the action) for me is to help me to develop and maintain certain actions that I want to incorporate into my daily life.

I therefore am not a fan of trying to track ‘everything’. If I am already in a daily habit of making my bed then I don’t have a particular need to track that in a habit tracker. If I drink a glass of water every morning, then I don’t particularly need to track that. What I’m saying is I don’t feel the need to track already well established habits.

However, if there are new things I want to do then a tracker is helpful in encouraging me to create a habit or to strengthen or maintain habits that might be at risk of falling by the way side or being over shadowed by competing demands. At the moment I have 8 key habits that I am tracking in January and these include Scripture study and prayer, exercise, reading and studying as well as few others.

My habit tracker is very simple. I have a notebook and I have divided it up so that I have four pages for each month of 2021. Each page is divided into two headings, and I have a list of dates running down the page so that I can make a note each day of what I have done against that particular task or life goal that I want to form into a habit.

You can of course be as elaborate as you like with designs, colour coding and whatnot, but for me the list style in this regard is simple and effective and gives my brain some guidelines to follow.

While there are certain things I do everyday on autopilot that I don’t need to track such as making my bed, brushing my teeth, having a shower, getting dressed, there are other things that I may do more occasionally or sporadically (such as reading or studying a course or exercise) that I am now able to have visual queues for to do everyday.

In summary:

Your takeaways from this post can be fairly simply.

  1. You don’t need to track everything you do (unless of course you want to).
  2. Focus on the things that you don’t already do every day that you want to do every day or more regularly and choose a few key areas (I have 8) to work on for the first month of the year so that you can review whether this works for you or whether you need to ‘tweak’ your system here or there.
  3. Seek out what other people are doing for inspiration, but make it your own – you’ll know what works best for your way of thinking and personality. If habit tracking isn’t for you, feel free to ignore this post and go with the flow if that works better for you 🙂
  4. Think about your purpose for tracking habits – is it something you enjoy in and of it itself to slow down and reflect? Does it help you to organise your mind and life? Are you focusing on building into your day to day life new actions that will eventually become habits that you do on autopilot?
  5. Experiment and figure out what works best for you whether digital or analogue, simple or ornate, and enjoy the process. It will help you to see the progress you are making as you give yourself a visual opportunity to take small yet steady steps forwards.

All the best. A new year is a great time for fun new stationery – perhaps you can buy local and support small businesses, artists and creatives. Enjoy taking those next steps forwards this January 2021 and beyond. x

Photo by Jess Bailey Designs on Pexels.com

Winter Survival Guide (48) ~ Look after your health and have a ‘winter survival kit’.

I’ve touched upon aspects of self care and wellbeing in previous sections of this guide, including eating and sleeping well, taking walks, looking after your mental health and including exercise into your routine, and making sure  that you have enough supplies for your health conditions such as medicines.

However, it’s a good idea to remember to look at your health and wellbeing in a holistic way and to think of what the main things that might affect you could be.

As we near the end of November, I’ve noticed a few things in my own life, so I thought I’d share them with you.

Firstly, I feel like hibernating. I’ve noticed that my body, mind and mood are being affected with this wintery season. It gets darker a lot quicker, light levels are lower, and there is a drop in temperature. I feel like with the natural cycle of the seasons, my body too is winding down and preparing for rest. Actually, if I didn’t have to work I’d probably be napping during the day like a curled up little hedgehog! 🙂 I’ve given out a lot of good advice such as maintaining exercise and healthy eating habits, and getting enough rest and sleep as well as staying active, but when it comes to it although I have been trying to do these things I am feeling a little sluggish and looking forward to not having to do very much.

Secondly, the desire for hibernation is coupled with a season of activity – which may not be such a bad thing, but it also means having to be realistic about what I can actually manage, and to pace myself. I’m blessed to have friends to meet and events to attend and things to prepare for, but it’s not always easy to ‘keep up’. As our bodies are perhaps slowing down and preparing for a time of rest we seem to try to pack in as much festivities as we can, and on the one hand that’s a good thing in making sure we don’t end up in a ‘slump’ hiding away from the world and perhaps giving in to low moods, but on the other hand it also means that we don’t have endless amounts of energy and so to stay well we need to pace ourselves and to be wise and selective in how we use our time as well as caring for our bodies and not over indulging.

Thirdly, it is the season for coughs, colds, sore throats and infections! And it’s hard to avoid these altogether, but it is something we can try to prepare for in advance.

So, what are the takeaways or key points that you can glean from all of this?

Accept that your body may react to the changing of the seasons by naturally slowing down, and that this may leave you feeling a little sluggish, tired or lethargic.

Pace yourself and try to maintain as much balance as possible between rest and play.

Listen to your body, and if you can slow down and wind up on big work projects, pace yourself with social events, don’t overpromise or overcommit to doing things, be flexible, be kind to yourself and manage the expectations of yourself and others and prepare a winter survival kit for coughs, colds, and also for any other important aspects of your life and safety. You might want to also have a winter survival kit in your car just in case of emergencies!

In summary, be realistic and take it easy. There may be a good reason that nature slows down at wintertime and it may be good for us to do so too.

animal animal world close up cute
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

cat lying on table
Photo by Eric Henrique Antunes da Silva on Pexels.com

A straw, a turtle, and a matter of life and death: How just one small straw can be the matter of life and death…

This is not the story of the camel and the straw that broke the camel’s back. No, it begins with a turtle and a straw, a matter of life and death, and it ‘ends’ (or continues on) with you…

Confused? Don’t worry. Let me start by asking you a question. Have you ever felt overwhelmed by something? Perhaps I should rephrase that….what is it that overwhelms you? It is unlikely that any one of us can go through life without feeling that way.

Perhaps what overwhelms you is just the very fact of life itself and trying to make sense of it all, perhaps you’ve been overwhelmed by personal issues such as exams, family conflict, illness, job stress, death of people you know, job loss, uncertainty, or becoming a spouse or a parent and having the responsibility to care for someone else’s life.

Perhaps other things to add to the list of what overwhelms you may include injustice in the world, the terrible things you hear about on a daily basis in the news, broken societies, melting polar icecaps, cruelty to children, the poaching of endangered animals, global commercial sexual exploitation, bonded labour and sex trafficking. Sadly, very sadly, the list goes on and on. On a daily basis we are overloaded with information that we can barely handle the severity of, and we find ourselves morphing from one stage of ‘coping’ to another, from anger, fear, outrage, passion to make a change, despondency, compassion fatigue, and numbness and desensitisation. What is the right way to react?

And what does a straw and a turtle have to do with any of this after all, you might wonder.

Let me explain. Today I felt overwhelmed. Yes, there are so many issues in the world, our own personal world and the world at large, that vie for our attention and response. We cannot possibly handle them all. But sometimes, one particular thing stands out in our day and calls us to take notice. For me today, it was seeing a picture online of a seabird’s decaying carcass which clearly showed that the poor creature had swallowed batteries, shards of plastic, and pieces of packaging. Yes, there are so many other important things that we need to change in the world, but this, this made my heart sink. Poor little bird. What it must have suffered. The image was an accompanying picture to a petition, that I chanced across, calling for shops to ban the production and selling of plastic straws. Plastic straws are not biodegradable and cause much suffering to marine life. We are suffocating ‘our’ (?!) oceans with packaging, things we as wasteful human beings do not even need, and sea creatures ingest or get caught in such packaging and die because of our negligence and greed. I guess that the person or people who drew up the petition realise that to call for an end to the use of plastic packaging altogether would probably be met with mockery, scorn, and a closed door. So they went on to explain that there had already been small successes with calling certain retailers to stop producing cotton buds with plastic attached, and several retailers took notice and responded positively to a previous petition. They described the suffering of a sea turtle that had to be rescued by professionals and have a plastic drinking straw extracted from its nose, while it winced in pain and bled due to the damage the straw had caused.

One straw. One turtle. One rescue. And ultimately a matter of life and death.

It made me think of the passion behind such movements and calls for change. Can something so small really make any difference at all? Yes. It can make the difference to a turtle’s life, to a child’s, to yours, to mine. While there is so much that we can be overwhelmed by, drowning in a sea of our own mistakes and the degradation of mankind as it is today, there is still so much to be empowered and impassioned by.

Dare to believe that the removal of one small straw made a difference to a turtle’s life and relieved it of its suffering. Dare to believe that for good or bad the ‘power of one’ goes far beyond itself. That the power of one bad thought or one good thought can have a ‘ripple effect’ that reverberates and impacts so much more outside of itself.

What if we were to do one small thing for good rather than for bad? To think one positive thought in place of a negative one? To do that one small thing, so small, as small as a plastic straw that you wouldn’t even think it significant? What would that be for you? What difference could one apology make to a relationship? What difference could one smile or kind word make to someone’s life? What difference could one act of repentance make to your life? What difference could that one letter, phone call, text message to someone you care about make? What difference could signing a petition make? What difference can one blog post make? What difference could that one prayer, one conversation, one reconciliation make? What difference could one small step in the right direction make? We could think of it negatively too….what difference could one ‘small’ lie, harsh word, bullet make?

Perhaps a ripple on a pond moving outwards. Perhaps the matter of life and death.

What one small difference will you make today?