Back in November, I took a break from my daily cup of coffee and was a little surprised to find that within just a few days, my vocabulary had halved and my ability to finish a sentence seemed to be on the fritz.
I’ve always been sensitive, so it made sense that caffeine withdrawal could make me feel fuzzy and tired. But months later, my brain fog hadn’t gotten even a bit better and I was still super tired.
Mid-sentence I lost my train of thought, never to catch it again. Basic words and phrases weren’t available to me anymore, to the point that I sometimes just pointed to objects I couldn’t name. While teaching yoga and working really hard to be precise with my language, I still swapped words like “knee” with “thumb” and “fold” with “step,” often without realizing it.
It turned out that caffeine had been masking several side effects of a migraine preventive medication I’d been taking for quite some time. Oops.
Now that I’m adjusting my dose with my doctor and starting to regain my energy and vocabulary, I’m reminded what it’s like to revisit habits when you’ve fallen out of practice.
A few things became a challenge when things were foggy, like keeping up my writing routine. With all of the concentration it took to search for missing words and construct cohesive sentences, writing was quite literally a headache.
When you’ve been doing something daily or regularly for months, years, or longer, it becomes second nature. You take action with less mental energy and deliberation than when you began, and feel more ease and contentment in the process.
If you fall out of practice, however, taking action requires more energy as you begin again. Summoning that energy can feel a little daunting when you think back on the ease of your old habit. It may even put you off from trying again!
When the energy required to start a new or restart an old self care routine is higher than the energy we currently have available, we struggle to make it happen. That’s human nature for ya.
Your reintroduction to a self care habit doesn’t have to be high-pressure or take up a ton of energy. Instead of forcing yourself to pick up where you left off, it’s ok to give yourself permission to come back comfortably and slowly, and reconnect with what you like about the practice.
You might ask yourself:
How can I restart the practice comfortably with the energy I’ve got today?
What made me want to make it a habit to begin with?
Post-fog, I’m venturing back into writing. Instead of jumping right back in with writing a newsletter or working on a novel, I started by taking my time with it. A sentence or two in my journal, a paragraph on Facebook. This newsletter took me a week and a half, writing a little at a time. I don’t have to recreate a daily writing habit overnight!
I’ve also been letting myself reconnect with the pleasure of writing. When I’m in the flow of writing, when I stop pressuring myself to overanalyze or write beautifully or be perfectly consistent, I feel very free and relaxed. Looking back over the shapes of words on a page is satisfying in its own way, too.
Writing doesn’t feel as natural or effortless as it used to just yet, but I think it will with time.
Maybe you can bring that approach to whatever habit you’re missing, whether it’s drinking water or walking or calling your grandma or meditating or taking political action.
What feels good about it?
How can you make starting again accessible and comfortable?
It doesn’t matter what knocked you out of your usual routine. It also doesn’t matter when you seal it into a new habit.