Dec 18, 2022
Add best practices for habits that have helped you the most in your wellness journey.
Some best practices for habits that have helped you the most in your wellness journey.
☀️I’ve definitely come up short many days, but in my ideal day it would start with:
- 10 min meditation on Calm app
- 30 min Insanity workout (max 30 has worked the best for me bc it’s so short and fun and i’m absolutely winded/drenched in sweat by the end of it)
- make a smoothie using frozen fruit with NutriBullet (pro-tip: add goji berries which provide natural caffeination and figs for a slightly more savory taste)
- plan my day using my Notion weekly template (I made a public copy so you can use it as well!) (P.S. i’m obsessed 😍with Notion and if you ever want to geek out and compare set-ups together, i’m your gal)
🌚And end the day with
- Watching Masterclass (currently: Doris Goodwin’s class on US Presidents) or Hulu/Netflix (anyone else find themselves getting philosophical over Tiger King? 🐯)
- Boho Beautiful’s free yin yoga YouTube videos (i’ve stopped going to yoga classes after discovering this channel)
- Wim Hof Breathing - was skeptical but it honestly does provide an immediate calming effect (s/o to Kat Kim for sharing this with me)
- Gratitude journal using DayOne app (tip: take photos of things you appreciate throughout the day and then upload it to your journal. Your mind begins to subconsciously/automatically seek out things to capture/be grateful for)
- Gratitude Practice
- I use Day One app to quickly write a gratitude entry every other day or everyday. Throughout the day, I’ll take quick snapshots of things i’m grateful for on my iphone. At the end of the day, I upload the photos to each entry and write 5-10 bullets about why i’m grateful. Sometimes i’ll write less and sometimes i’ll write more. The key is to keep the habit consistent. I’ve found that my mind will begin to subconsciously look for things to photograph/be appreciative of during the day now. This has been a habit that has increased my baseline happiness levels by 10 fold.
- I’ve noticed that whenever I feel vaguely anxious or unsettled, it usually stems from some issue I haven’t fully processed below my subconscious.
- Hand write to slow the mind down. I do hand-written journaling at least once a week in order to work through these emotions/decisions. Writing things down by hand slows ones mind to match its pace and enables one to intentionally think about the topic on hand. It’s also important not to filter your thoughts and truly spill out anything on your mind without judgement. One exercise that helps with this is asking “Why” 5 times. Usually you’ll be able to get to the root of a problem that is more of a softer emotion and less jarring.
- Asking Why 5 times. For example “I have to get this job” turns into → why? “If I don’t get this job i’ll be perceived as a failure” → why? “I will be unlovable by others” → why do you have this belief? “Because that’s how my parents gave me love” → now you can do the work to parse this narrative in a way that is more grounded in current circumstances and slow the impulsive nature of certain thoughts. .
- Daily usage of Calm app for 10-min and sleep meditations. I’ve tried lots of other meditation apps like Insight Timer and Headspace, but Calm makes meditating easy for me by making it brainless to choose a meditation. Their homepage UI has a “daily meditation” button that I’ll just open and state listening to. The fact that the meditation is randomized every day makes it exciting to go in the app to a new surprise #gamification.
- Sleep Gratitude meditation programs the mindset into my subconscious :)
- I find that the trick to doing exercise is 3-fold for me:
- Make it easy through proximity make sure your gym or workout class is < 10 mins away from your home or on the way back from work.
- Pairing it with a reward
- Running to the beach and picking up a kombucha to sip on the bench
- Making a smoothie after my daily insanity workout
- Subtle reframing of exercise as 🎉celebrating what my body can do, instead of berating/wanting to correct its imperfections, has made all the difference. Your body is one of the few things in this life that is unconditionally loyal to you. What can you do/eat today to honor it?
- Reframing food as medicine/healing for your body There’s a quote I saw somewhere that states: either food is your medicine or medicine becomes your food. When I began to see food as medicine, I stopped consuming processed food/sugary drinks/carbs with low density of nutrition. Every single thing you eat is a vote for your long-term health and wellbeing.
- @Lisaztruong: I love this quote! One of my mentors recently beat cancer and this is the single piece of advice she gave me too. She recommends this book if you want to read more about Food as Medicine
- Intermittent Fasting - To be honest, I’ve never been a huge breakfast person. I find that eating heavy in the morning makes me feel slower and less productive. Not eating breakfast and saving my appetite for a bigger lunch has made me feel much more energized, saves me time and money, and has also led to weight loss.
- Drinking coffee in the AM has made me feel full for some reason untl 12/1pm
- Replacing Instagram with Twitter.
- Originally Instagram for me was a way to keep up with my friends’ lives, get inspired creatively, and express my own creativity. Nowadays, it feels like a shopping mall and a place where people are vying for attention/approval from peers through perfectly curated feeds. Reducing my time on Instagram came down to the realization that it was the go-to app during pockets of downtime or commute throughout the day. So now it became a matter of what could I replace Instagram with in those pockets of downtime? Hence:
- Twitter In the past I could never quite get into Twitter. But I gave it another shot and this time followed those I admired for their intellect, ideas, and authenticity. I began to feel much more intellectually stimulated after a session on Twitter vs. Instagram further reaffirming my switch. The key for me on getting started on Twitter is making sure the feed/ppl I followed were inspiring/teaching me something new. After a while of browsing feeds, I then began to throw my own thoughts into the ether (typically around product or personal development). Here’s a good guide on how to get started on Twitter.
- Third Street Boxing - What I consider a real boxing gym! Great sense of community given it’s a local business with regulars who have been coming for decades. The workouts are amazing not just for my physical health but also emotional health (as long as I don’t spar and risk my mental health lol). I specifically moved to Dogpatch to reduce barriers to my boxing gym given I know I’ll always make it to work even if that commute is longer. Ask me for a referral so you can get your first class free / go with someone who will help you through your first class!
- Eat before morning exercises--especially if you have low blood pressure like me! I used to skip breakfast because I prioritized sleeping over eating. I would also go to morning workout classes with at most coffee and water in my stomach which eventually led to my fainting, hitting my head, getting a concussion, and vomiting during my 47th SoulCycle ride. Intermittent fasting works well for some people/days but not all.
- It doesn’t always look like manis, pedis, baths, massages, and ice cream. Sometimes it’s paying extra for an UberX/Lyft instead of a Pool/Line to buy more time at home to rest/sleep more. Sometimes it’s speaking kindly to yourself (or in the same way you would speak to a 6yo version of yourself) when you’re disappointed or frustrated. Sometimes it’s making sure you treat yourself to something on your wishlist after you receive a bonus so you have a physical reminder of when you were rewarded by not only your company but also yourself when you did good work.
- Phone away from bed
- Ending and starting my days checking work emails and Slack messages from bed made it easy for me to work longer hours, constantly think about work (even when I’m dreaming in my sleep), and not get quality rest. You’ll get praised for being super responsive, but it comes with long-term consequences (exhaustion, burn out, coworkers respecting your free time less, etc). I’ve made an effort to reduce screen time before/after bed. Better for your eyes too! Better for waking up if you use your phone’s alarm clock since you have to physically get up to turn off the alarm.
- 8 hours of resting in the dark or sleeping (if you can)
- Stillness / Slowing Down
- When not sure what to do or feeling overwhelmed, slow down and stop doing anything. Let your mind settle. After you’re ready, see what comes to mind, what you really know you should do. It’s often what’s really important.
- With 2 chairs, chairs + a bed, etc. - alternate between seats as you have a conversation with yourself as if you were helping a friend with your problem.
- Recommended question starting out: What’s the most important thing for us to talk about?
- Life Coaching
- Nothing’s more expensive than a cheap coach. Nothing’s cheaper than an expensive coach. Wrote a blog post on this here
- It’s an unregulated industry, so watch out for scammy coaches. Pick someone who makes you feel you can be great, not someone who makes you feel insecure and needs a coach.
- You are the best way to improve
- I’ve never found a single quote, practice, or idea that I can keep as a focus throughout my self-improvement journey. If you’re progressing, you’ll constantly need to be changing everything. Just remember that when your systems fail as you grow or change, you can create new ones. Again. And again. And again.
- Make it social! It’s a fun way to squeeze in a workout while catching up with friends. I really got into climbing this year because I started making weekly plans to go with my climbing group. The commitment really gave me the final push I needed to make it out to the gym, even after a long day at work. This works for cardio or high intensity workouts too - reward yourselves afterwards by grabbing smoothie together!
- Listening to my body
- Thinking about what I eat and do in terms of how it makes me feel has changed my relationship with food and exercise. I kept lifting because I loved being able to carry my heavy backpack around the entire day without sweating and feeling tired. I ate more vegetables because I loved how much energy and nourishment it gave my body. I stopped eating fried, greasy food because I hated feeling sluggish and tired afterwards. I even cut caffeine despite years of being dependent on it after noticing how ineffective I felt without it.
- Managing my news intake
- As much as I think it’s important to stay updated on current events, I’ve been hit with wave after wave of negativity in the media/news too many times. I’ve come to the conclusion that if I’m not going to do anything about it (am I going to unplug Trump’s computer? no), there’s no point in expending energy on it. I’ve found subscribing to curated newsletters to be a great way to stay updated on the most important without drowning in all the noise. My trifecta of newsletters that give me a healthy dose of my interests without too much overlap: current events (theSkimm), economy (Morning Brew), tech (The Hustle).
- Life coaching
- The best investment I’ve ever made in myself is life coaching. It can be expensive, but I’ve found that it’s a better use of money than most conferences. It’s incredible to have someone who is experienced/insightful in the issues you’re facing hold space for you, ask just the right thought-provoking questions, and hold you accountable as you grow. I’ve worked with my coaches on topics like writing a personal vision statement, dating/relationships, family issues, and physical health and have accelerated clarity in these areas in just a matter of months. It’s important to find someone who at least has had a little bit of experience coaching, as they’ll have a better sense for the right structure and scope for your sessions. I’ve also personally found the need to change coaches once in a while to get new perspectives.
- Personal training
- Fitness is an area I’ve needed a lot of accountability / discipline in, and I’ve had the most success staying consistent with a personal fitness trainer. I used to work with a trainer in person, and have recently started using a hybrid approach with Future. It’s helpful to have a human hold you accountable to certain workout times, push you during the sessions, and correct your form for safety (if you’re lifting).
- I’ve loved playing organized sports since I was a kid, but only recently did I realize the benefits for wellness. Similar to personal training, playing on a basketball or softball team means a set time each week to get some cardio in and catch up with others. My friends and I usually use Zogsports to join a local co-ed league.
- Spa time
- I’m a sucker for massages and spas as a way to unwind. Two of my favorite spas are Onsen (in SF) and Refuge (in Carmel). They both have beautiful jacuzzis, saunas, and steam rooms. I’ve recently begun using them as a way to get in an extended reading session and have some introverted me-time (no talking and no cellphones). It’s also a fun place to catch up with friends without distractions.
- Sleep Cycle
- If you’re like me, you needand 8 hours of sleep to feel like a human the next day. I use the Sleep Cycle app on my phone, integrated with a smart Hue lightbulb, to automatically gently wake me up when my sleep is the lightest part of its cycle. This has helped me wake up far more refreshed than trying to wake up from an alarm in a pitch dark room.
- On creating stillness, space for reflection, and creativity
- I pick a day each week, usually Sundays, that are just for me. No plans. No commitments. I typically spend these days writing, drawing, journalling, and reading. Inspired by Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, I spent about a year writing morning pages and taking myself on Artist Dates, which is a day each month where I play, have fun, or do something that nourishes me.
- On exercise
- Find something that you love that doesn’t feel like “work.” For me, that’s training in hand-balancing and contemporary improv dance. Both forms of exercise bring me immense joy and creative self-expression. Instead of aiming to lose weight or tone my body, I shifted my goals to be identity-based. For example, I am a dancer.
- On habit-building and personalized reminders
- How you spend your days is how you spend your life. I created a personal reminders system using Apple’s Reminder App that triggers recurring reminders at specific moments and times that I need a gentle nudge. This helps me stay on track and are personalized to my goals (fitness / mindfulness / habits formation). For example, when I leave my home in the morning, I receive a reminder to take a 4-7-8 breath. I created this reminder because I noticed myself being in a rush in the morning and not maintaining open conscious awareness. Another reminder is set at 10am, 2pm, 4pm (moments in the day where I know I am likely to be distracted) where I ask myself, “Where is my attention right now?”. Receiving this reminder daily has helped reinforce this habit; it has helped me return to my breathe and become more aware of sensations and the world around me.
- On meditation and mindfulness
- The ultimate goal of meditation is to achieve happiness independent of conditions. I love Shinzen Young’s teaching of mindfulness as “a threefold attentional skill set: concentration power, sensory clarity, and equanimity working together.” More significantly, a common misconception about meditation is that it can only be practiced sitting cross-legged in a quiet room. You can in fact meditate while talking to someone, in the bus, while washing the dishes. It’s an approach that Shinzen Young teaches as Focus Out - “you anchor yourself in the physical touch of water and dishes, along with the sights and sounds of washing, the motion of the water, and the clacking of the disware. You get into a zone state and become one with the water and the dishes.”
- On building my second brain and cultivating digital minimalism
- I love collecting and organizing information. I’ve found Tiago’s system to be extremely powerful in helping me capture, organize, and retrieve my digital and offline notes. Investing time in designing a light system (between my physical journals and online notes) has helped be happier, and more productive.
- I grew up playing competitive sports year round but was forced to stop in high school due to a back condition. Having now been through two back surgeries, I consider working out a gift and often consider it the best part of my day. How often in our adult life do we get a dedicated hour to ourselves, where we get to improve our physical and mental health? If you ever feel yourself getting in a rut, dreading the gym, or fixating too much on your physical appearance, take a conscious two week break from the gym, and see how great you mentally feel after that first day back!
- Many others here have recommended meditation, so I’ll focus on the mindset that helps me stay consistent with my meditation practice. Meditation should not be done in the pursuit of peace, calm or focus. Meditation is simply being present, and sometimes, being present is acknowledging that you’re overwhelmingly stressed or emotionally turbulent. I have found that meditating in the hopes of achieving calm will often lead to greater anxiety when you don’t instantly feel better. Understand that the practice of meditation is simply to become more aware of your thoughts, body and surroundings, and you should accept them as they are.
- Self enquiry is a method of journaling that is designed to help identify your blind spots. We often carry biases which cloud or tamper with our judgement. Self enquiry is the practice of asking yourself incisive questions to find the “edge” of your personality and understand your underlying thought processes. Here are two helpful resources for getting started: What is Self Enquiry and How to Do Self Enquiry
- Exposure is the practice of purposely raising your anxiety level by thinking about a scenario that fills you with dread, fear or anxiety. Often times, we are actually more afraid of the anxiety that comes with a situation, rather than the situation itself. For example, if you are afraid of presenting at work, a possible exposure is imagining yourself giving a horrible presentation, your coworkers laughing at you, and perhaps even you getting demoted as a result of the failure. By letting yourself voice out your greatest fears, you will often find they are not as horrible or realistic as you may originally think. Also, by sitting with that anxiety, you can learn to identify your fears for what they are, rather than conflating them with unnecessary anxiety.
- Read read read - Most of the above + Twitter. Philosophy has been transformative.
- Production > Consumption - Lots of awesome things to consume. It is hard to resist. Can be noble procrastination. The real work is in creation.
- Digital Brain in Notion - Notes, project ideas, design inspirations, bucket lists, to-dos, blogs all live here. This has transformed the way I organized information.
- Writing - Just the act of attempting to piece together thoughts and lay them out in a logical manner makes you comprehend and retain them incredibly well.
- Recalibrations - Sit down once every few weeks and take some time for introspection and alignment.
- No wake up alarms - Let the body decide when it is well rested.
- Intermittent Fasting - No. It in not a hype. =)
- Spend a lot of $ on education - This means paying for courses but primarily good teachers that can make all the difference in the world.
- Being super precious with time
- Thinking for myself - No hesitation in challenging status-quo, breaking rules or not following peers.
- The 5 Hour Rule: This is a practice most notably practiced by CEOs and other successful people. I am taking at least 1 hour a day to dive into a new topic. Sometimes these topics come to me naturally through my morning news intake, friends, or surfing the web. I write down in my Notes the topics I want to learn.
- Wim Hoff: This guy inspired me to take control and realize that we have the FREE gift of breath that can heal more than we know. Simply allowing deep levels of oxygen to flow through me helped me become aware of how little I breathe throughout my day (especially when I am stressed). Unlock your hidden toxins/stress and release them with breathwork.
- Apple Watch: This device is primarily used to remind me to stand, move, breathe and track my exercise. It motivates me to move more because I like tracking analytics. I love how it encourages you with words of affirmation!
- TruFusion: This is a class-oriented gym with mostly women. I practice various types of yoga, pilates, barre, trx, cycling, + more. I may be able to get you a 1 week free trial. Let me know :)
- Yoga: Boho Beautiful inspired me to practice yoga anywhere. If I have 15 minutes to spare at home, I do it. If I am at the beach or hiking somewhere with peaceful nature, I do a flow. This really allows me to deeply enjoy the great air and gift of mother nature we have in the Bay Area.
- Bullet Journal: I like to track chronologically what I do/experience on a daily basis
- Mood/Habit Tracker: I track my mood, food, exercise to track patterns
- New Tracker: Not sure what to call this one but every day I like to write down 1 good thing that happened, 1 negative thing that happened (if at all), 1 thing I am grateful for, 1 act of kindness experienced, and 1 topic/new concept on my mind that day
- Me time
- Relax: Bubble bath, salt scrub, face mask
- Read: A book outside in the sun (no screens) with some tea
- Driving: I either listen to a podcast or a playlist that allows me to sing in the car
- Visualize a pie chart to that shows where you spend you time & money. Does this align with your values?
- Financial audit: I have a self-made google sheet that tracks my spending in different categories month over month
- Time audit: where are you spending your most precious finite resource? Socializing? Learning? Exercising? TV?
- Social audit: Who do you spend the most time with, most time thinking about, closest with geographically, what relations do you want to nurture?
- Food audit: What are you eating? How healthy is your food intake? Does intermittent fasting work?
- I learn by building structured learning projects. I recommend doing “one month learning challenges”. I set myself a learning challenge for the month, and learn it in public to force accountability. See example.
- I use Naval’s method. Read multiple books at the same time. I stop reading books that bore me.
- Consistency over Intensity - On most days, there’s no excuse for skipping a workout. Even if I don’t “feel” like it, just doing 50 burpees keeps the routine consistent. Over the long-run, this’ll compound. Consistency > Intensity, even if its miniscule.
- 80% Vegetables + 20% Meat - Tends to be a good rule of thumb for most plates
- I do a combination of Wim Hof’s technique and Vipassana meditation for 20 minutes in the morning before work.
- Focusing on helping others
- I find that I’m the most miserable, when my focus is on myself too much. When I’m “feeling bad”, I find the best solution is to focus on the other. I focus on helping my friends, stranger on whatever they need. Donate, volunteer, reconnect with purposes outside myself.
- Exercise I know almost everyone has said this. Exercise has been my form of therapy since college. The endorphins, the ability to release and push/pull/exert energy after a challenging day transforms me. Here are some of my learnings of how to incorporate exercise as a consistent, enjoyable part of your life:
- I agree with Patty that proximity to a trail, to gym, etc. is really helpful in making exercise part of your routine.
- If you are newer in your fitness journey, I want to emphasize every body is different and is motivated in different ways. You might hate running but like biking, hate HIIT classes but like weightlifting, etc. Try different things and find out what you enjoy most. In the end, exercise you like is the only way you’ll ever keep it a consistent activity, so find what this for you. Moving is better than not moving!
- It also helps for accountability to go with someone. I love hitting up the gym with friends who can show me new things (like boxing), or signing up for a race with a friend and doing a run together one a week to train.
- I have a weekly routine of 3 weightlifting sessions, 1 HIIT class, and 3 runs (1 small, 1 medium in the week, and 1 long run on the weekend). I plan my socializing around my exercise plans, making working out a priority.
- For me personally, I like structure. After a long day of work or groggily getting to the gym early in the morning, I don’t want to “think” about what I’m going to do and instead have excel spreadsheets/PDFs/images of my weightlifting routines or going to classes and being told what to do. I’ve tried a few internet sensation work out programs that I’m happy to give 2 cents on if you’re interested - Strong Curves and BBG (Bikini Body Guide).
- I did not like running my whole life. I’ve never been “good” (fast) at it and mostly dread it, but I’ve dragged myself out there for cardio. I’ve found it more and more enjoyable because (1) you cannot multitask (can’t text, can’t check your emails, etc.) so it forces you to just focus on one thing and one thing only, and (2) you can explore more of your city by running through it. You can run to that bakery you’ve wanted to try (as a reward!), or flag restaurants or parks you want to loop back to in the future.
- Reflection - Same thing that has been said many times. I do this in a few forms:
- Journaling - I have terrible memory, so I journal to remember details about my life, about my friends’ and family life, advice I want to remember, etc. I also use it to reflect, to share my deepest darkest secrets and vulnerabilities, things that I am afraid to say out loud to myself or to my friends. Seeing things written out in front of me makes me really sit with these words/thoughts and attempt to face them. When my head feels jumbled and overwhelmed with thoughts about a certain situation/decision I need to make, I often make lists of pros/cons or other charts into my journal to help organize my thoughts.
- Gratitude Exercise In times I have felt in a slump, I turned to my friends to ask how they come out of feeling like they’re in a funk. I learned this gratitude exercise from my friend, and in the periods I feel down, I will do this exercise every night before bed. Write down 3 things you’re grateful for (1 big thing, 1 small thing, 1 experience) and 3 things you’re looking forward to. These can be simple, like “I’m grateful for my cat”, “I’m grateful for the sun rising today”, “I’m looking forward to washing my hair tonight.” They can repeat/be recycled. It made me realize there is much to be thankful for (counting your blessings) and gives me hope of things to look forward to. Often I think we feel depressed when we feel like we have nothing to look forward to, but if we stop and think about it, I’m sure we can all think of some things daily.
- Planner - I am Type A, and I love to plan/think ahead. I’ve been using a planner since college. I write into my planner the days I plan to exercise, my social plans, industry talks I want to go to, etc. I don’t really write work stuff into it unless it’s important. I personally like the Moleskin weekly planners. There are many out there, some of which others have mentioned, that have reflective and/or creative exercises built into it. I often flip back through the weeks, especially at the end of the year, to reflect on all I’ve done over X time.
- Meaningful talks with close friends Having a friend like Patty who is really reflective too and is genuinely caring and curious about your life, and will probe and really truly listen, is so important to me. Having meaningful conversations with friends like that really make me feel a lot more whole.
- Slowing down
- Cooking - Similar to running, I’ve really come to appreciate cooking. You can’t really multitask when you are using both hands, chopping vegetables. It’s just me and my health when I am in the kitchen. I also meal prep to save time and eat healthier through the week.
- Self date - I try to take myself on a “date” every month - to try that restaurant I’ve been wanting to try, to check out that museum exhibit, to just sit in the park and take in some sunshine.
- Lighting a candle before bed - I turn off the lights and light a candle before bed every night, even if it is just for one minute. The soft light helps me slow my mind before bed, and the aroma that spreads through the room is calming.
- Face masks Again helps me relax! Favorites are Korean sheet masks (honestly feels like it does not do much, but they are hydrating);, Aztec clay mask (really clears your pores); and Ordinary Sacyclic acid masque (for acne).
- Due to anxiety and stress through some intense family mental health situations, my hormone levels went whack over the past few years. If dealing with anxiety and stress wasn’t enough, right?! This only stacked more stress! My chin broke out with painful whiteheads like I was in middle school again. It was painful and embarrassing, especially in work settings or on dates. I went to a dermatologist who confirmed it was hormonal. She suggested going on birth control, which should help, but I did not want to. So we tried just topical creams, but that did not do much. I am now taking Spironolactone (suggested by my friend after it worked for her) and Doxycycline. Together they work wonders; they have cleared most of my acne and really helped bring my self confidence levels back. II would see a dermatologist if you are experiencing painful acne in your late 20s too to ask if this would be possibly good to try. FYI - Spironolactone can only be used by women.
- Copyright:All articles in this blog, except for special statements, adopt BY-NC-SA agreement. Please indicate the source!