As much as I try to live a healthy, balanced life, I find myself struggling at times. Somedays it’s as simple as not listening to my body. Other times I beat myself up over something I should have done. No matter how much effort I put into working on myself and my shortcomings (if you want to call them that), it’s constantly a work in progress.
I have a tendency to overwork myself and expect immediate results. Unfortunately, like everything, things take time. They also require dedication and commitment. Which is why I’ve decided to make a list of my toxic behaviors so I can refer back to this article when I’m repeating a toxic habit. Sometimes we don’t even realize we are doing the things we are doing. More than likely you need to break one or more of these toxic habits, so I’ve decided to share this article with you.
Unlearning these habits isn’t an easy overnight fix. It takes time to reverse them. Now that I’ve acknowledged my toxic habits, I’m working my way down my list to make small changes over time. Retraining myself to correct them. Creating new healthy habits requires the same level of commitment as any other achievement. I’m making the effort to do better everyday and hope I inspire you to do the same.
7 Toxic Habits I’m Breaking Now
1. Body shame myself
For years I have read magazines, seen movies and listened to women and men body shame themselves. Last year I was the skinniest I have ever been. I was extremely healthy but I weighed 95 lbs at the age of 39. I had a panic attack and was rushed to the ER. While having my vitals taken and tests ran the doctor told me, “you can stand to eat a few burritos.” Though he was trying to be funny, he was serious. I wasn’t starving myself, I just had a strenuous and physically demanding job that caused me to lose weight. My weight wasn’t the issue however. My mental state over my appearance was. I shamed myself daily. I’ve spent most of my life ashamed of my body and the way I look. I couldn’t take a compliment and hid behind clothing that covered every inch of myself. It wasn’t until this year when I was looking back at photos from last year (thanks, COVID-19) that I realized how amazing I looked. How badly I wish I still had that muscle definition and toned abs, before I ate my way through the quarantine. The point is, our bodies go through changes over the years and those changes require love. They need self-care and maintenance to look and feel their best. Measuring yourself up to a stranger on social media who’s most likely photoshopped their photos, or an old photo of yourself IS NOT REAL life. Weight doesn’t make you more or less beautiful. It’s how you treat your body and feel about yourself that makes you beautiful. Body shaming is a disorder that many people suffer from. Learn to love your body and those things you see as flaws. Be proud of your body and take care of your inner peace. The inside is what’s going to keep you alive.
2. Comparing myself to people on social media
Comparison is the devil. Instead of wishing for someone else’s life it’s time to go out and get your own. Something I recently had to work on. I would scroll through social media and see people with the life I wanted and then feel bad about myself for not having the same. Because of that I reevaluated the accounts I was following on social media. I asked myself if these accounts were making me feel good, or if they were making me hate my life? Just because someone is beautiful, successful, married, has children, the perfect body, etc., doesn’t mean you have to watch their lives play out on social media daily. You can choose to unfollow anyone at anytime. I asked myself what brought joy into my life and followed those accounts. Yes, some of them were beautiful women with seemingly perfect lives. I followed them because they are also incredible business owners and entrepreneurs. I followed creative content creators for inspiration too. After looking at what was serving me versus what was in my daily feed I took the time to follow things I needed to see more of during my allotted one hour spent on social media daily: cooking, design, health and wellness information, motivational speakers. Now when I log into my account my feed is filled with things that motivate and inspire me.
3. Blaming myself for not being where I thought I’d be by now
This one is huge for me. I never had a timeline. I personally don’t like living my life by a schedule. I’ve always been a free spirit who lived by the seat of my pants. Which has been amazing. But this year I turned 40 and my first emotion was sadness. I cried at midnight on my birthday. The pressure of COVID-19 changing not just my professional life, but now my non-existent love life began to seem even farther out of reach too. Which meant my plans to buy a house, get married and have kids may never happen. It was hard to accept my new normal. But it’s been 6 weeks of retraining my mindset and I’m coping with it. I’m accepting whatever my personal path is and not punishing myself. My normal isn’t the same as everyone else, so there is no reason to compare or regret. I made choices that made me happy at that time in my life. I experienced many things I wanted to see and do in my lifetime. If I continue to blame myself then I won’t have the capacity to appreciate all that I’ve learned throughout my journey. How far I’ve come and all I’ve experienced. Life is precious and short. Allow yourself the chance to be right where you are now. Because in time this moment will be gone too.
4. Apologizing for everything
I am notorious for saying “I’m sorry” all the time. When I forget to return calls, speak my truth, and don’t want to allow my friends to borrow my things. I no longer apologize because I’m not sorry. I don’t owe anyone an explanation for being myself and neither do you. There is of course a time to be apologetic when you genuinely did something wrong and you are asking for forgiveness, but apologizing for who you are isn’t that time. Never be sorry for what makes you YOU.
5. Wasting half of my day trying to find a starting point
For me this applies to work, working out and so many things. Before COVID-19 I kept to a strict schedule. But after a few months of being unemployed causing financial stress, I became discouraged. Instead of being consistent and sticking to a daily schedule I searched for hundreds of ways to do things different and more efficiently. Though I learned a lot, I didn’t make any money, wasn’t more productive and lost a lot of time. Time is valuable. Time is money. If you already know what you want to spend half of the day fixated on don’t search for multiple ways to do it differently. Start somewhere. Start anywhere. Just start. Since I am an entrepreneur and I work from home I have to write down my schedule for the day otherwise I will fall short of completing everything. There are days I take mental breaks and hours I allocate to masterclasses, studying and researching, but that time is worked into my schedule. The only reason other than sickness I would steer from my day-to-day is if my body was telling me it needs a break. I have a lot of those days lately and I indulge in them. In order to avoid burnout I allow myself days to reset and restart. There is a healthy balance and it doesn’t mean you have to accomplish everything all at once or nothing at all. Move at your own pace just make sure you are benefiting from what you are investing your time into and accomplishing realistic goals daily so you are not disappointing yourself.
6. Punishing myself for cravings
I go in waves of punishing myself. When I feel my best I’m more lenient. When I don’t feel great about myself I am my own worst enemy. I punish myself for eating too much and drinking too much. Not getting enough rest or getting too much rest. I even punish myself for taking R&R days when I work 7 days a week. The problem with punishing yourself is you are training your body to believe that something is bad when in fact it is not. You need a balance. Typically your body tells you when it’s lacking something. If it’s telling you that you need something chances are you probably do. Take time for what you need. Retrain your mind to listen and be mindful. There’s a reason so many people live by the 80%/20% rule, because cheat days are necessary. Not punishing yourself does wonders for your mental health. Allow yourself to look forward to the 20% instead of punishing yourself for only doing 80%.
This is my biggest weakness. As an entrepreneur I struggle to find a balance between life and work. I overwork myself to the point of burnout. Which is unhealthy. As any successful person will tell you, “work smarter, not harder.” That is the new plan. When you give yourself breaks and time to enjoy life you don’t burnout. You aren’t as discouraged when results aren’t happening on your timeline because you have other things to divide your time and energy. It’s great to be inspired and want to work all the time. I love what I do so much that some nights I can’t sleep because I’m fueled with creativity. However, the onset of a day without sleep, or a month of no self-care will creep up and mind check you. It will cause you to doubt yourself. It will bring a lack of motivation. In life sometimes we have to wear many hats. However, you can still allocate a few hours a day for things that make you happy outside of those duties. Somedays I’m in such a powerful work flow and other days I’m completely lost. Luckily, I have Gatsby (my dog) who has to be taken out for walks every few hours which gives me time to get fresh air, regroup and listen to a podcast or talk to my mom for motivation. It takes my mind off of work and refocuses my attention. Allowing yourself to find a work life balance is key to being successful, but you need that daily walk or weekly me time to maintain your happiness.
Though many people believe balance isn’t possible I believe it is. It just requires making sure you are happy in all areas of your life and not just one. I hope you can instill some of these tips into your daily life for positive results.
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