I turned 30 this year, and I reflected on some life lessons. It really does feel like a significant number, because I’ve learned so much in this time and yet I know there is SO much more to learn. (And re-learn!)
Looking back, I wish I could go back to my younger self and tell her… well, a lot of things. But ultimately, it would be the lessons I’ve learned along the way – some learned the hard way, some were just brought out of me, and some of them I thought I’d never learn but eventually did.
Some of you are younger, but if you’re not, pretend you are – because you’re only as young as I think you are! Now that I’m at Level 30, if the Doctor could take me back to give advice to my younger self, this is what I’d share. (But as if he’d allow that!)
30 Lessons Turning 30: Health & Fitness
HEALTH & FITNESS – Mental & physical.
1: Do the basics
Drink enough water, eat when you’re hungry, and get fruit or veg every day, and get some physical movement and go outside. Every day. You’d think I know that by 30, huh. You live and learn. If you feel down – check if you’ve done these things.
2: Get better after setbacks
Trying to break destructive patterns is really hard, but it’s worth trying to do that every day. The key is to plan ahead, and learn from every time it doesn’t go to plan. When you do the longest streak without a bad habit, it’ll be worth it. Having a streak to keep beating gives you a very special game to play!
3: Prioritise self-care
Once consistent self-care slides, everything starts to slide. Give yourself the time to make big decisions when you’re calm, rational and, preferably, in a good life-affirming mood. On the other end of the spectrum, thank your body when you’re sick. When you’re sick for days, thank your body for dealing with something that isn’t good for it. Your body is working! Trust your gut – your physical one and your instinctive one!
4: Track your health daily
Track your moods, physical fitness and appointments for your mental and physical health to see patterns of what makes you feel good and bad for days after the event. Use a colour chart, numbers or stickers, whatever you’re into. I’ve put smiley stickers for proper exercise, and coloured a grid for 365 days with a colour scale. It made me see stuff I didn’t see before (or perhaps chose not to see), so I could take steps to improve it.
5: Ask for help
If you are dealing with overwhelming negativity, feeling empty or weird moods, and if you think you have depression or anxiety – seeking professional help is the best thing you can do. You owe it to yourself to try different things to see what helps you the most.
6: Go outside and exercise
Go for that run. Join that self-defence class. Go for that swim after work, even though it’s a hassle changing and leaving your glasses by the pool. Especially that time you really didn’t want to. Especially after that bad day. Especially when you were nervous, that time.
7: Sort out your mornings
How your mornings go will set the tone for the whole day – it’s like a stealth bonus health pack before you even start the game. You will love waking up early in the mornings, when you do. Create a morning ritual you enjoy and make sure you remind yourself of your big goals and desires because this will help you find clues on how to reach them during the rest of the day.
8: Relax before bed
Sleep well, learn to wind down and relax. Don’t work through the night – or at least, don’t make a habit of it. Because that will mess up your health, and any sleep problems you have, further down the road.
9: Play more
Playing games, with friends, is extremely good for your health. Don’t hide away from friends when you feel low – loneliness can become a health issue. Aside from that, play means anything that’s fun and silly and makes you smile. It doesn’t have to be games – but try to do things that help you lighten up, even for a moment.
10: Stretch more
Don’t wait for pain. Especially shoulder pain. Look after your posture and don’t slouch, especially at a desk job.
Amanda Leek – feeling wise in her old age
Writes & draws: Coin Phrases