From being more active to getting better sleep, there are many different things we could do to improve our general wellbeing. Making positive changes is great, but how do we make them stick?
A great way to build healthy habits is to track them over time. When you monitor the things you do to support yourself, you can see the effects on your life. Having first-hand evidence that an action helps your mood, self-esteem or clarity of mind makes it a lot easier to do.
Keeping track of both your physical and mental health over time can also help you see where you’re at, and what to keep in mind. Here are some suggestions on what to track and how to track them.
Technology makes it easier than ever to track our behaviours. There are quite literally thousands of apps and devices for tracking almost everything you do. iPhones and most Android phones come with apps that you can use to measure everything from your number of steps to hours of sleep. Some apps are have been ‘gamified’ – so you’re more likely to use them. The apps that work best are the ones that keep the change you’d like to make in the back of your mind.
The following apps come recommended by headspace:
Forest helps you to stay focussed and be present. The app grows trees when you leave your phone locked. You set the amount of time you want to stay focussed, and the app plants a tree on the screen. If you successfully stay off your phone for the amount of time you set, you earn coins which are used by Forest to plant real trees around the world.
StayFocusd is a browser extension that allows you to set a time limit for certain websites. It’s completely customisable and can be set up for almost all distracting websites. Once you’ve hit the limit, the extension blocks it for the rest of the day! It also allows you schedule and sync your website blocks across devices.
Streaks is a to-do list that helps you form good habits and holds you accountable to your goals. The app allows you to track up to twelve tasks you want to complete each day and the goal is to build a streak of consecutive days.
Even though apps can be great, it’s important to know where your data is and what’s being done with it. Make sure you know what personal data the app is accessing before you get started.
You don’t need to buy an expensive wrist device, when jotting stuff down will do. In fact, writing something down in a journal or piece of paper stuck to your wall before bed can be a great ritual to get into.
Track your mood
Set up a calendar or journal and rate your mental health out of five each day. This only takes a few seconds to do, and can quickly give you a lot of information on the patterns of your wellbeing.
When we’re going through a tough time, it’s helpful to look at things from a bigger point of view. In the middle of a really hard day it might feel like everything’s going terribly, but when we look at our mood over time, it’s clear that things aren’t like that all the time. Hard moments are temporary, and, like everything, eventually pass.
You can also notice the things in life that don’t help your mental wellbeing – like assessments, arguments and other stressors – and think of ways to prepare for them.
Track your sleep
Getting a good amount of high-quality sleep is important for your mood and your mind. Write down how many hours of sleep you get per night. Once you’ve worked out your patterns, you can look at how you can adjust other parts of your life in order to increase/maintain the quality of your sleep.
Track your movement
Our mind and body are closely connected. Getting active can help you feel happier, more in control, more focussed and more alert. As with a lot of changes, start small and build things up over time.
Track your tracking
Tracking is a proven strategy that’s helps a lot of people with their overall wellbeing, but that doesn’t mean you should track every detail of your life. For some people, the idea of monitoring a lot of what they do can feel stressful and intrusive, so it’s important to only track what you feel comfortable with.
Read more at headspace.