Self Care Streak Challenge
After dancing with the intention of writing this post for months, I figured this was the perfect way to channel my anxious thoughts that have not been dispelled through the glory of an endorphin release.
For readers who may not know, I have run every day since July 11, 2014. That means over four consecutive years of daily running through all weather figurative and literal in life. My nine year old was five. My nearly seven year old was not quite three when I started. Through this streak, I have run on the morning of my brother's funeral, after two hours of sleep, through 102 fevers, and on my daughters' birthdays. The sun has risen and set during my runs hundreds of times, and I have marveled each time at the glory and miracle of them whether tromping on ice and snow covered roads amidst -40 windchills, crunching over leaves, or sweating in the blistering heat. There have been a handful (maybe two hands by now) of times when this streak has continued on a dreadmill but the gigantic majority of those 1,535 days have been in the beauty of nature. Seeking the miracle in the mundane outside is where my soul thrives.
People marvel at this streak when I share, and I rarely throw out the number except on milestone days or to emphasize a point. After a conversation recently in one of my favorite Voxer groups, it occurred to me that this streak has the power to challenge and inspire others. It struck me that my own daily habit story might spark something dormant in others and have the potential to inspire them to start their own self-care streak.
The epiphany is that my story might resonate because of the reality of each day's outcome within the stream of days. Though I have run every single day for this many days, it has not always been a lot. In fact, yesterday was one of those lean days. One mile. A streak keeping mile that did not do a whole lot toward any weight loss or fitness goal. It didn't burn off the calories or create the ideal cardio blend for fitness. It wasn't tied to a training plan for any race coming up. But it kept the habit. And that is the real crux of this message. Forming and keeping the self-care habit has been a game changer in my own life. We all have the power to take at least 10-15 minutes of our day to build a healthy habit, right? That is how it started for me. I was NOT a runner prior to this streak. There were patches of casual attempts at focusing on fitness that trailed off multiple times throughout my life prior to this streak. What has kept this streak going and expanding is the slow and consistent way in which I built it and how I allow for variance. Some people believe there is no point in going out for a mile or less than 20 minutes. I disagree wholeheartedly, and that viewpoint has worked well for me for a LONG time now.
Don't get me wrong. Some days I have run 26.2 miles. In fact, I have done that twice. Since I began keeping track of mileage almost a full year into the streak, I have been running 100 miles per month. That means some days are one mile, others are eight miles, but most are an average of 3 miles each time. The 100 miles per month is enough to keep me motivated. give me grace when I need it, and push me to do more on some days when I don't always feel like it. Fortunately, this habit has become such a permanent weave in the tapestry of life that now I most always feel like it.
The logistics of my run today have not been worked out. My husband has a JV game to oversee tonight, so it will likely have to occur with the help of a family friend to sit with my sick daughter or after they all go to bed. But it will happen. And I am looking forward to day 1,536 because I have learned to never take for granted the physical ability to do it---challenging as it can be to fit it in some days.
How about you? Can you devote time each day for a streak of self care? Maybe you will begin a streak of meditating. Yoga. Stretching. Journaling. Drinking enough water. Walking.
Check out this resource for emerging research on habit forming to change behavior for overall health. It does suggest a small step for daily habit change. They even provide a goal sheet for those of you needing to make it tangible. Write it down and affirm that goal is a great practice.
For a less dense read, check out this source on repetition. Some sources say it takes 30 repetitions to form a habit, and others will point toward 60. I do not remember for me personally when running was a "habit" so that it became like breathing, but I am pretty sure it was after 60. You could have a streak that you won't break within two months!
I hope you will choose to challenge yourself to a self-care streak. When we consciously choose to better ourselves, everyone around us wins. What habit will you be intentional about building?
Share it in the comments, tweet it out with #BalanceLAP, and/or feel free to tag me--@sarahsajohnson. I would love to watch and encourage your journey!