RESTART: Challenge #46 (fortnightly) – Drop Sleep-ins, Add Tech-free Leisure Time

Yes! It’s true! A new challenge! How exciting! *strikes an imaginary cheerleader pose*

This fortnight, I will aim to get up before midday.

Problematic sleeping habits have always been a major source of difficulty for me. Various things over the years have contributed to poor sleep habits (and continue to), and it has become easier to fall into bad patterns than it is to maintain good ones. Therefore, improving my sleep is something that I need to constantly revisit and nurture. In recent years, I’ve been going to sleep later and therefore getting up later. It’s usual for me not to sleep until at least 1:00am and not uncommon for me to not settle down until after 3:00am. This is not exactly insomnia, it’s more like 11:00pm-3:00am currently feels  like 8:00pm-midnight would to most people. (Well, perhaps netizens are the wrong people to talk to about “normal” sleeping patterns!)

Rather than trying to bed and to sleep earlier, however, I’m focusing getting up earlier and not staying in bed til late. Getting up earlier is actually a more effective way for me to feel sleepy earlier at night than changing my nighttime routine and hoping I feel sleepy. Because current work is casual, I haven’t been forced into a routine of consistently getting up early.

An additional reason for targeting my morning habits is that, in recent years, I have genuinely developed the habit of lazing around in bed even after I wake up. It’s largely because I often don’t sleep well, and so wake up with little energy (or even a headache or migraine). I don’t want to get up and face the day. Instead, I’ll indulge my instant-gratification addiction and read on my phone or play games. Until after midday. Sometimes, until late afternoon. Obviously, when I have a migraine, it’s not as if I’ll be doing anything more productive once I get up anyway, but this has produced a general habit of staying in bed rather than getting up.

Ideally, I’d be getting up by 8:00am on non-work days, springing out of bed with a joyful song. That’s clearly an unrealistic expectation right now, so I’m starting with the more moderate goal of getting up before midday, while it’s actually still morning. This may not miraculously fix all of my negative sleeping habits, but it will hopefully become easier to actually get myself out of bed. And it can’t be worse for getting sleep at night than if I get up only a few hours before the evening arrives…

My other aim is to add in at least 20 minutes of leisure time that doesn’t involve technology – more specifically, that doesn’t involve my laptop, phone or TV (listening to music is fine). There are a variety of reasons that this is desirable for me (such as using tech too much before sleeping), but there are two main motivations this fortnight.

The first motivation is to help with my eyes. While I am always careful about things such as turning on the blue light filter/night mode and having adequate lighting while looking at screens, my eyes currently need extra care. Since significant health problems cropped up a few years ago, my eyes have been more sensitive to strain (and they’ve always been sensitive to light/glare, which is a migraine trigger for me). About a year ago, my optometrist noted that my eyes seem to be drier than they should be, and are not producing enough moisture. Among the various environmental causes, she emphasised that technology such as computer and mobile screens are likely to have an effect. Obviously, I decreased the length of time I used technology. 

The second reason is that it has become a habit-bordering-on-addiction to spend time all my free time on my laptop or mobile. I’ve always enjoyed using the internet in various ways, but the increase primarily came about because my health and energy is low, and therefore my mind is noticeably less nimble and vigorous. The internet provides things such as manga, anime, videos and webnovels that are passive, easily-digestible forms of entertainment for my sluggish brain. Clearly, this habit needs to be changed, at least a little. If it affects my eyes, my sleep and my motivation for doing other things I need or wish to do, then it shouldn’t be monopolising my time as it currently is.

I don’t necessarily intend to do something “productive” with that time; that’s not really the point of this. My aim is to expand the variety of things I feel like doing for relaxation and enjoyment to include things beyond the laptop, mobile or TV. One of the reasons I spend so much time on the computer is that on the internet these days I can find a lot of the things I’ve always enjoyed anyway. Of course, this means I can also do those things in the offline, non-digital way, right?



(P.S. This is one of those weeks where I could probably switch and re-word it to be something like “Drop Tech-based Activities, Add Getting Up Earlier”, but somehow I feel more like I’m decreasing time in bed and inserting a different activity into my day, so it’s the way it is.)

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I’ve been pondering and half-intending to restart DO/AO challenges for a while, but have only now actually felt ready to do it. Before I officially begin a new challenge, I thought I’d write a few DO/AO side-notes:

When I first started this project, knowing that overly-ambitious challenges are useless for me and that small, manageable steps are the best to focus on, I began with weekend challenges. Soon, I moved to weekly challenges and eventually began monthly challenges, before other life stuff got in the way of blogging. This time, I feel like a fortnight (two weeks) will be a good length of time for most of the ideas or habits I wish to try for challenges. However, I may not post a new challenge every fortnight, nor will every challenge definitely be the same length. It will depend on the challenge and how I am going personally.

I feel like taking on DO/AO challenges again is both a continuation of all of those challenges (after all, it’s the same blog, same person, same lifestyle experiment), and at the same time a restart of this whole process. Although I had tried to keep things organised, on reflection, the way I labelled and categorised my challenges ended up a little messy and inconsistent. So, from now on, I am going to always write the challenge number first (i.e. “Challenge #46 (fortnightly) – “), rather than organising things according to the length of the challenge (i.e. old style: “Week  16 – “). I will pick up the challenge number from what I figure it would have been if I had just kept on with this blog and continued numbering (it seems I stopped numbering when I switched to monthly, but I’ve tried to account for those).

However, I will still think of this new challenge as marking a restart of DO/AO. Some of my After Restart challenges may be very similar to my Before Restart challenges. I had always reserved the right to revisit any area I felt that I needed to, anyway, but this time a lot of those habits I was trying to cultivate have become idle or even somewhat forgotten.


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Remembering the Old, But Forgetting the New

When attempting to get back to healthier/more positive habits or further improve my habits, I try to remind myself to keep in mind the lessons and realisations I have discovered in the past.

For instance, one thing that I strongly advocate is to be aware of your own natural tendencies and work with them rather than against them. Discipline and will-power are banned terms when it comes to habit-changing strategies. If it requires you to drum up discipline or willpower, then it’s a weak strategy for you. I mean, if you love shopping but hate exercise, then why would you try to force yourself to go for a run every morning. Doesn’t it make more sense to begin increasing your activity by regularly going to the city or other major shopping districts and shopping without using public transport to get around? Start your pedometer and feel proud!

Going back to nuggets like these remind me of things that I already know work for me, and can help me get started again when I’ve let things lapse.

I’ve been struggling to rebuild my positive and healthy habits since my health went downhill a few years back, but I’ve always had this feeling that the hardest part will be getting myself started and, after that, I know what to do. I’ve kept thinking this way, yet I’ve struggled to get started – specifically with increasing my activity, which is probably the main priority at the moment.

Just recently, I’ve begun to realise something. I’ve been aware that I shouldn’t forget my old lessons, but, in doing so, I didn’t notice one thing.

I change. I continue to change.

While, fundamentally, I’m the same person that I was four years ago, of course things about me have changed. Some of my habits and preferences and tendencies have changed – and, of course, there are physical changes due to my health issues.

I gradually noticed when I was last studying at uni that I had needed to change my study routines from when I first studied at university. During first uni, my brain would stop working after about 8:30-9:00pm, but I’d wake up early in the morning and lie in bed thinking about my assignments for a while, then get up raring to go. Rather than doing the staying-up-late-to-finish-an-assignment, I’d do the get-up-early-to-finish-an-assignment. By the time second uni rolled around, my brain no longer seemed to function like that. I could instead work decently til 10:00-11:00pm (yeah, still not an all-nighter type…), but relying on having oomph and motivation in the morning was hopeless. I had changed.

However, now, I’ve subconsciously assumed that I haven’t continued to change since second uni. I’ve assumed that the times I feel most like being active are the same as they were and the way I like to do things is the same as before. While assuming all of this, I haven’t actually managed to start any of the positive habits I’ve been aiming for, but I didn’t notice and question my assumptions.

Of course, my old lessons and realisations are still extremely valuable and useful. It’s just that I need to re-apply them to the kind of person I am now. The old thing I learned about following your natural tendencies is still hugely important. However, I need to pay attention and become aware of what my natural tendencies are now. I’m sure I’ll be the same in many ways, but, when it concerns how I can be more active, I think I have a lot to learn about myself.

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Why to Blog Again More (AKA You WordPressers are Wunnerful)

Sooooo…I really had never intended to post even one, let alone this second link back to my other blog all of a sudden in just one day! However, I felt the urge to write this latest post and honestly couldn’t decide at first whether to write it for here or my personal blog. In the end, I left it there, because it’s more rambly and long-winded (and poorly-edited) than I try to write the ones for here.

However, this post is my reflection after re-reading some old DO/AO posts and comments, so I feel I want a link to it here, too.

Why to Blog Again More (AKA You WordPressers are Wunnerful)

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Indirect Update

I haven’t forgotten about this site, but health stuff happened and blogging kinda…well…I explained it just now on my other blog:

Stuff about my personal blog and a bit about what happened and where I’m at health-wise.

I would like to start this project up again one day, but I’m not really ready for that yet.

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2014-02 Drop Caring What Others Think (1)/Add Daily Creative Writing

I’ve had a few “add” ideas this month, but a drought of “drop” inspiration. In usual Zaiene fashion, I’ve suddenly come up with a flurry of ideas for things in my life to drop! So, once more you find me here in Lifestyle Experiment Land. I’ve been considering expanding things regularly to a fortnight or a month, but, as my first for the year, I will start with a week and see how things go. This whole Life thing is pretty much trial and error, you know.

This week, I am going to drop caring what other people think (1). Yep, just like that. Ok, so moving on…

No, no, I’m not silly enough to really think it’s that simple, or I would have achieved this years ago and been a thouroughlly happier and more obnoxious person! If I manage to keep DO/AO up (at least semi-regularly) this year, I’m planning to revisit this particular one a few times, so this has the (1) next to it as it is my first step!

Obviously, I’m not planning to stop caring about other people’s feelings or considering other people. I don’t think I could ever be truly arrogant (although probably a teeny bit of arrogance would actually be good for me). What I’d like is to spend less time checking my own behaviour and worrying what other people are thinking of me. I’d like to spend less time reviewing interactions and worrying that the other person didn’t find them as positive as I did. I’d like to spend less time worrying that someone is unhappy with my work or performance or behaviour, even though nothing negative has been said or indicated.

I’ve decided that the easiest way to start might be with the people that already supposedly really like me. No, I’ll say that again: …The people who already really like me. This week, I’m going to try not to worry about what my friends are thinking of me. They already like me, generally think positive things about me and don’t mind (and even enjoy) my normal behaviour. These are people who actually say to me things like “I miss you!” or “Let’s catch up!” or “I had fun today!” or “I love it when we hang out!” and other nice, personally-complimentary things. Despite lovely comments like these, I often find myself wondering if I was being too annoying or if they really like me as much as I thought, or if they were judging me in some way etc. So, this week I will try to check those thoughts and just enjoy spending time with friends or communicating with friends; I will try to relax and be myself and let my friends think whatever it is they always think without trying to guess and worry about it.

This week, more practically, I’m going to add daily creative writing.

I’ve been having a bit of a hiatus from work recently, as one of my jobs has finished and I have felt that I needed some time to try to work my health and wellbeing back up from about 30% to something more sustainable (it’s probably up to about 65-70% now). I’ve eventually got to the stage, however, where “resting” is driving me insane. I’m feeling a little aimless at home, but don’t quite have the energy to constantly be out and about; I still need to make sure I’m taking time to nurse and nurture myself. I will very soon feel ready pick up some teaching or find some new work, but in the meantime I just don’t really like this feeling of not working or studying (uni starts in two weeks) or doing anything that is purposeful for my Life.

It suddenly struck me that normally I long for periods when I have nothing to do except work on my creative projects. In a really ideal world, I would probably work a few days a week in some kind of helping job (for instance, psychology or education) and the rest of my time I would write stories and blog and do other creative things. Normally, though, I expend so much mental energy on work and study that I give up trying to have any left over for a sustained creative writing effort. Recent issues with my eyes and migraines don’t help much, either. Yet, here I’ve been, sitting around feeling dissatisfied and bored, when I could have been making the most of precious obligation-free time!

Sometimes I’m baffled at how long it takes me to realise things like this!!

So, my goal this week is to do at least fifteen minutes of any kind of creative writing each day. More is great, of course, but at least fifteen minutes (or five minutes + ten minutes, or any other combination) will mean I’ve sat down and started to get back into the swing of things.

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A Quote to Keep You Going

I haven’t quite manage to complete a publishable DO/AO blog post, but I keep intending to post one!

In the meantime, here’s a quote that tickled me from a book I’m re-reading:

Socrates used to spend his whole time finding rare and special exceptions to anything anyone said. He must have been most annoying.

From Simplicity by Edward De Bono.

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