Begin Again With Healthy Habits

Begin Again With Healthy Habits

Develop Wellness

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“I'm not a great programmer, I'm just a good programmer with great habits.” - Kent Beck, Programmer

If you want to be great at anything, it is important to put your wellness first. Wellness is the act of practicing healthy habits on a daily basis to attain better physical and mental health outcomes.

Great programming habits start with taking care of your basic needs. Build routines for exercise, mindfulness, nutrition, sleep, and social connectedness.

Burnout, overwhelm, and stress happen when we neglect our well-being. Prioritize your health and happiness above all else. When we show up for ourselves, we are better equipped to show up for the people, roles, and responsibilities in our lives.

When it comes to breaking or making habits, it's important to start small and remember that we can always begin again. For example, if you want to start meditating, rather than starting with 10 minutes a day, start with one minute. Make it easy to start and gradually improve. If you are trying to improve your diet but eat some junk food, don't throw your whole healthy meal plan out. Begin again next time you are hungry.

"In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few." - Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Master

Adopting a beginner's mind can help us to be consistent with our efforts, patient with our growth, and open our minds to learn more in all areas of life. With a beginner's mind, you drop expectations and preconceived ideas to see things with fresh eyes.

When we practice beginner's mind, our experiences are not colored by disappointment or frustration. We view failure as feedback rather than a reason to stop. Just like a beginner, we are open, eager, and receptive to new ways of being, doing, and thinking.

Our minds naturally get clouded with assumptions, expectations of how things "should be" or the voice of our inner critic. Practice calming and quieting your mental chatter to return to a beginner's mind. Picture your thoughts as clouds, noticing them but letting them come and go without judgment.

Our breath is a tool that we can always use to begin again in the present moment. Notice your breathing and the quality of your breath any time you want to calm and center your mind. Remember that each breath is unique as you open yourself to the next breath and the next.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” - Annie Dillard, Author

WOOP is a science-based mental strategy that people of all ages can use to find and fulfill their wishes, set preferences, and change their habits in many areas of life. WOOP stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan. To try WOOP, you need less than ten minutes to focus on yourself.

  • Your wish can be about your personal health, interpersonal relationships, or professional goals. It's important to pick a wish that is challenging but that you can fulfill. You may have a time frame for fulfilling your wish or not.

  • Next, consider the best possible outcome for fulfilling your wish. Imagine how it would make you feel.

  • Identify your obstacles by considering what is holding you back from fulfilling your wish. What can you do to overcome your obstacle?

  • Finally, make an if-then plan. Name one action you can take or a thought you can think of to overcome your obstacle.

Our individual wellness will look as different as our lives, but all of us can focus on small habits that we can measure and build on. Keep in mind that every week, every day, every moment is an opportunity to begin again.

What is one thing you are doing, or want to do, to nurture your happiness and health? Please share if you found this information helpful or comment with any questions. Thank you for reading!

More Resources (in addition to those linked above!)

The Develop Wellness articles are inspired by a series of wellness workshops that I facilitated with Women Who Code Boston. Check out our events for more!