Madison, GA

Healthy Habits to Cultivate Daily

Crystal Jackson

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It's important to cultivate daily healthy habits to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Unfortunately, we don't always know we need it until we are overwhelmed. On these days, it can be important to take an intentional, methodical approach to get from one end of the day to the next. It may not seem like much, but it can make all the difference.

#1 Choose Peace

We can make intentional choices to cultivate peace when we feel overwhelmed. We can seek out quiet spaces--heading over to the library or taking a walk downtown. Many of the local parks offer scenic quiet spaces--from Bill Wood Park's cross-country trail to the hiking and cycling trails or lake view at nearby Hard Labor Creek State Park. Finding a peaceful place isn't a challenge, but we need to intentionally choose a peaceful environment when we can.

Choosing peace isn't just about finding a quiet, scenic location. That's not always possible. We can also screen phone calls and decline draining social obligations when we feel overwhelmed. Even monitoring our entertainment and social media consumption can minimize stress and help create a sense of calm.

#2 Seek Growth

Paying attention to the small things can help when we feel overwhelmed. It helps ground us in the present moment and take us away from the past or future worries our brains can get stuck ruminating on during troubled times. Walking around town offers much beauty to the observant visitor. Look for new flowers, changing leaf colors, or other changes in the environment. We can look for growth around us, and it's a helpful reminder that seeds are placed in total darkness and yet are nurtured toward the light.

#3 Feel Feelings

Our instinct may be to distract from or deny discomfort, but in the words of Glennon Doyle, feelings are for feeling. We need to intentionally cultivate space for our feelings. If we feel sad, anxious, or overwhelmed, we can be gentle with ourselves and practice self-compassion. It could be a good time to book a massage at Pure Bliss Spa, go in for a chiropractic adjustment at the Back to Wellness Clinic in nearby Rutledge, or plan a visit to the Zen Relaxing Wellness Center opening soon in Madison. A yoga class can also help us feel our feelings while practicing self-care.

#4 Embrace Comfort

Just as we seek peace by avoiding toxic people and environments, we can choose to embrace comfort on many levels. We can choose to spend time around people who make us feel good about ourselves. We can also elect to spend more time in places that help us feel better--choosing a local park, garden, or even peaceful location like the library.

We can also seek comfort at home. We can wear comfortable clothes, snuggle down in a soft blanket, and spend time with family members and/or pets. We can eat well and embrace simple comforts. If our environments don't feel cozy already, there are many local shops that can help us create a welcoming space.

#5 Move More

In times of overwhelm, we may want to do nothing, and that's okay. It can help, however, to move more and cultivate a regular fitness practice. Studies on exercise and endorphins support the idea that movement can help us feel better. We can walk at the track near the primary school, take a walk at one of the local area parks, or even join the walking group at Community Roots Market to build social support and exercise at the same time. The Morgan County Aquatic Center offers open swim times, and Over Yonder Outpost in Rutledge offers SUP rentals for those who want to take their fitness out on the lake.

#6 Clean Up

Decluttering our environments and taking care of our personal appearance can have a positive effect on our moods and lives. This may not instantly cure our problems or elevate our mood, but it can help. Choosing to cultivate daily habits where we regularly declutter and where we take care of basic hygiene can help us feel better about ourselves and the world around us. A clean house, clean vehicle, and neat appearance won't fix anything, but it might give us less to stress about.

#7 Water Ourselves

Just as plants need water to grow, we need to keep ourselves hydrated. This is one of the simplest things to do — but also one of the simplest things we overlook. Skipping sodas and alcohol and reaching for water instead may not be our favorite choice, but it can be the one that helps us feel our best.

#8 Grow Gratitude

This one is difficult when life has gone sideways, and we’re struggling to survive. However, cultivating a gratitude practice can help us find hope and perspective. If gratitude feels hard to find, we may have to grow some by starting with the smallest, most insignificant things we appreciate. Naming what we feel grateful for can be a way to take care of ourselves when life is hard.

#9 Meditate More

Taking a few minutes for meditation is a daily habit that can help with that sense of overwhelm. It’s not a cure-all, and it’s not meant to be. It’s a practice to help us feel more balanced and centered — one that allows us to check in with ourselves.

#10 Rinse And Repeat

Whatever brings us comfort on the hard days — we should do those things again. As many times as we need to be okay. Rinse and repeat as needed.

Caring for ourselves requires thinking about what will contribute to feeling better rather than worse, which sometimes means turning down a short-term pleasure for a long-term gain. Other times, a short-term indulgence feels like the right decision. Life can be overwhelming. Sometimes, we just need a game plan to get through the days that feel impossible. It doesn’t have to be another obligation, a to-do list to add to the pile. It can be a way of nurturing ourselves to the other side of the toughest days.

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Crystal Jackson is a former therapist turned writer. She is the author of the Heart of Madison series and a volume of poetry entitled My Words Are Whiskey. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, The Good Men Project, and Elephant Journal. When she's not writing, you can find her traveling, paddle boarding, cycling, throwing axes badly but with terrifying enthusiasm, hiking, or curled up with her nose in a book in Madison, Georgia, where she lives with one puppy and two wild and wonderful children. Crystal writes about relationships, mental health, parenting, social justice, and more. Never miss an update. Subscribe to emails: https://crystaljacksonwriter.substack.com/

Madison, GA
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