August 31, 2023

Three Things Thursday: Habit Changes

I feel like I'm finally starting to get out of the funk I've been in for a VERY long time. Even though our luck still sucks, my anxiety isn't as bad and my mood has been more pleasant. The weather definitely helps; we've had what feels like fall weather several days in a row. Ordinarily, the issue with the car would have sent me over the edge, but I've been taking it in stride and haven't panicked about it.

I finished listening to the Atomic Habits audiobook and it gave me some ideas for habits I'd like to change. So, for Three Things Thursday, I thought I'd write out three habits I want to work into my daily routine. I'm going to follow the guidance in the book about how to structure them, but my plan is to make these three things habits:

1. Stretch my back.

When I was in chronic pain from 2018 to 2022, my body got so stiff. I had such a hard time getting comfortable and I lost any sort of flexibility that I may have had. (I've never been a very flexible person, but it got really bad when I was in so much pain.)

This is from 2012, and aside from the super cringy sweatpants, I can't believe I could actually do this. Just looking at it hurts my back!

Eli has been really into golf lately, and I told him I'd never swung a golf club in my life. I've played putt-putt, of course, but never hit from a tee or anything. I asked him to show me how to swing, and we were trying to figure out if I was right- or left-handed. Yes, this sounds odd; I am right-handed for everything except for holding a hockey stick or mini-golf. Or closing one eye--my left eye is dominant? Or something.

Anyway, he showed me how to swing and GOOD LORD my back would not let me twist. As much as I tried (both right- and left-handed), I couldn't get my body to make the motion. I tried out some stretches on the floor and I realized that my back has no flexibility whatsoever.

I looked up some stretches for the spots that are particularly bad and I tried those out. I still have a chronic issue with my T10-T11 vertebrae (it's been a problem since I was kid), which makes twisting movements painful, but I want more flexibility altogether. It felt really good to stretch.

Atomic Habits is super helpful in the sense that I don't feel like I have to do *everything* right now. Ideally, yes--I would have a whole routine of full-body stretches. But I also know that I would never stick with it. I've tried that numerous times in the past. So, I picked three stretches for my back that I felt would make the biggest difference, and I'm going to do those every night before I get in bed. I'll do them for 30 seconds each. I've been doing them for the past week and I've found that I don't dread it or put it off because it's literally just 90 seconds and then done.

2. Running.

I know I'm forever saying I want to get back to running, and I'll do it for a few weeks before I just stop. After listening to the book, I realize that I always stop because I feel like I have to do enough to make it worth my while--three miles or so. And I "just don't wanna".

This was in 2014--I looked so happy, considering I'd just run 13 miles and was finishing up the half-marathon.

To get into the habit of running, I'm going to put my running clothes on immediately after I wake up. Rather than procrastinating, I will run one lap around the block; I think the distance is about one-third of a mile. That sounds like nothing, compared to what I'm used to, but the whole point is to make it automatic--something that I don't even think about. I'll add more eventually, but I don't want to think ahead yet. Knowing that it's just one loop around the block will definitely make me likely to do it.

It'll only take me about four minutes, so even on super busy days, I won't have an excuse not to do it right when I wake up. I'll take Joey with me and I think he'll like looking forward to the routine as well. Now, we walk him at sporadic times throughout the day, so he doesn't know when it's time. By having a routine, I'm sure he'll look forward to it. And that would make me feel too guilty to skip it!

3. Cleaning the kitchen counters every night before bed.

Yes, this is very simple as well, but I tend to wait until the following day to wipe down the counters after dinner. If there is one thing that makes my house feel messy to me, it's when the counters have crumbs and clutter. I already have the routine of scooping the litter box and bringing in the peanuts from the squirrel lunch box each night (raccoons get into the peanuts if I don't bring them in); so I will add wiping down the counters to that as well. It'll take all of two minutes at most, and it will boost my mood when I wake up. I know that sounds odd; I just feel happier when my house is clean, and the counters are what makes the biggest difference to me.

This was right after I finished the remodel. My kitchen will never be this clean again, but I can at least make sure the counters are ;)

Okay, this is it! Three things that will take a grand total of less than 10 minutes a day. The whole goal is to make these things as automatic as possible so that I don't even think about them. Once they are pretty mindless, I can work on adding to them (adding stretches, running longer, adding another quick cleaning task to do in the evenings).

I know I've said this several times now, but I cannot recommend Atomic Habits enough! (That's not an affiliate link.) I bought the Kindle book because I'd like to read it (I only listened to the audiobook) and I think it's a book I'll read at least once a year. It was recommended to me by several readers, so THANK YOU--I wish I'd listened/read it a long time ago.


  1. I had a co-worker who as part of a work goal, talked to us about the book and I bought it but have yet to read it. I do plan to, just haven't made the time. Glad it worked out good for you and gave you some ideas. That's what I'm hoping for.

  2. I love that goals work for you. They make me want to take a nap! But go you. Also, I'm still not receiving your emails notifying me of blog posts. I got to this one because Bloglovin notified me of the Sept. 1st post and then I clicked "older post" to see what I had missed. :-(


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