Mental Health

Overcoming Overwhelm: Planning Ahead

Getting (and staying) healthy is no easy thing. It takes focus, dedication, and a conscious effort to make the right choices every day. To say the least, it can get overwhelming.

But we’re here to beat the overwhelm and reach our goals.

Planning ahead is one of the easiest ways to side-step some of the factors that can derail you. For example, needing dinner at dinnertime and having no groceries in the house can lead to ordering pizza instead of having a healthy, home-cooked meal. Sound familiar? Meal planning and prepping will help save you from unplanned cheat meals.

Make planning ahead pain-free.

Planning ahead is about 60% of the battle, but keeping track of your habits and past progress is the other 40%. It can be very helpful to keep a food journal to figure out which foods trigger certain reactions. Most functional medicine doctors will even ask you to keep a food journal for a period of time before your appointment. Habit trackers have become a popular addition to “smash” style journals. You can customize the tracker to behaviors specific to you: things you want to add to your daily routine or even things you want to moderate. Recognizing your patterns and triggers can help you change your habits for the better and stay on track.

1. Write it down. Add things to your planner as they come up so you don’t forget. A planner doesn’t help unless you unless you actually put stuff in it.

2. Make planning part of your schedule. Set aside 10 minutes in the morning to gather your thoughts on paper and look at your day and week. Get in the habit of looking at your notes and your schedule to keep you on track. Use another 10 minutes in the evening to fill in the missing pieces in your journal.

3. Put everything in one place. Keep one book with your calendar, notes, journals, and everything else.

4. Make it fun! Use colored pens and stickers. Color-code your notes and add washi tape for purpose (or just for decoration).

5. Start small. If you’re not used to keeping a planner, start small and add gradually. Don’t feel pressured to do it all the first day. If you do feel like diving right in, don’t panic if you miss a day here and there. Focus on improving consistency.

6. Find a system that works for you. Keep a planner and a journal, or find solution that combines them. If you’re like me, you’ve probably used a different planner every year and have had trouble finding something that works. Recently, I came across a brand at OfficeMax called Tul (not an ad, this is actually what I use and love). It’s been working well as a notebook, but I still had to make all of my planner pages by hand.

Let me know in the comments what your planning problems are and if you have any solutions that totally work for you!

Much love,

K

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