Taking better care of myself, evidently

It occurred to me that I’ve recently made a few changes that were explicitly, albeit perhaps uncharacteristically, for my own good.

I hunted down a couple of meditation apps to help remind me to take some time out to just sit for a bit and be still. Not still like I can be when I’m watching a movie or a TV show or reading or writing or playing a video game — I’ve long been a master at that — but mindfully, attentively still with just my own thoughts.

“Meditation apps?” You may snark. “How quaint.”

But here’s the thing: I’ve read books on meditating and mindfulness. I’m genuinely into it. But for decades now, my life hasn’t been standard enough from day to day to be able to let me develop a good habit (like meditating) via being able to do something again and again at the same time.

No two mornings are the same, even if the timing of them has to be. One day my daughter will want one thing for breakfast that’s more involved than the next day. Another day she may be up before me and have already made it for herself. Some mornings I drive her to school. Others she takes a bus with friends.
No two days off work are the same. One morning I need to shop for groceries or make a stop at the mall. Another I’m free until an appointment, etc.
Even days when I work aren’t the same. My hours are all over the map these days (opening and working until mid-afternoon one day with only a short break, working in the later afternoon to close the next day, with a half-hour lunch, then another shift maybe in the mid-day…), and even when they’re more regularly timed, what I have to do in my available time before them changes from day to day.

All of which is to say, like writing or going for a good walk or anything else I should be doing that’s productive, meditating tends to happen when it can be slotted in and when I remember to do it. Thanks to my brutally terrible memory, I simply forget to some things way more often than not. And some of these meditation apps, like one in particular I’m trying lately, will send me a reminder on my phone to Hey, psst, don’t forget to meditate. That, plus, if you haven’t checked out any meditation apps, there’s a really wide variety that offer a lot of approaches to meditating. So an app that a) reminds me to meditate if/when I can and b) offers some appealing options as to how to do that? What is there to lose?

So that’s one good thing, is trying to get back to meditating more often.

Secondly, but the most important change I’ve made recently, was to start easing into a keto-type diet, complete with intermittent fasting, as advised in the book Why We Get Sick (which was very interesting and I summarized here, if you missed it). As I mention at the bottom of the summary, it’s still early days yet, so I don’t know how well this diet (nay, lifestyle) works for me. But really, anything that I can do to eat at all better and more conscientiously is a net positive, so that’s already a win.

And finally, just today I made the decision to delete a game app. Not just any game app, but in a genre I really enjoy, and which was done quite well by the game developer.

“But why?” You may ask, now sincere and not snarky like you were before. “Why delete a game you really liked?”

In part because it was a huge time suck. I could literally look at the clock once, play what I thought was for another 15-20 minutes, and look up again to see an hour had gone by. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying yourself with whatever pastime appeals, of course. But there’s something a bit concerning about a game that can so effectively blind me to how much time I’ve been playing it. It’s a bit… disconcerting.
The far bigger part, though, was that it was a sci-fi battle simulator kind of thing that I noticed while I was playing would actually get my heart rate and adrenaline up. I was literally getting physically ramped up and a bit anxious from playing it. That’s not what is supposed to happen from what one considers a “fun” game. So while I did genuinely enjoy the game, there were clear, negative downsides I experienced from playing it. (I’ve got enough cortisol squeezing into my system from enough real-life stress already, thanks.)
All of which made me realize that genuinely for my own health, the app had to go.

So yeah, it’s been an interesting few weeks of seemingly disconnected actions and choices that turned out in the bigger picture to be made for my own benefit.

Here’s hoping for more of that kind of evident self-care in the future.