Working on Wellness: Habitica


Image: habitica.com

Image: habitica.com

Twenty-three years ago this month, I emigrated to the United Stated. Or so I thought at the time. I now know that emigration is a process that lasts the rest of one’s life. Maybe it’s easier for someone who emigrates from a developing country, for someone who always wanted to come to America. I never did. And when I came, I thought it was temporary. I now know it’s not.

The inner battle between the voice that says “Everything’s better in Holland!” and the voice that says “Oh, for God’s sake, shut up already!” never really stops. This blog is a good outlet, so grocery store cashiers no longer have to put up with my whining. It gets less hard over time, but it never gets easy.

So I am trying to work on my wellness–mental and physical. Which was also easier, cheaper, etc. in Holland…

Anyway, I have been made aware of several apps that are really helpful. And that’s saying something, because I usually become paralyzed at the mere thought of doing anything good for myself. I’ve been using these apps for a few weeks now, and, well, I’m still using them. In my book, that’s great.

The first and most important one is Habitica. It’s an online game that gives you points for real-life actions. You can use the points on your avatar in the game. You decide what real-life actions give you points or take points off. There are three categories: habits, dailies and to-dos.

Habits can be positive or negative. The positive ones give you points and the negative ones take points away. So if you want to drink fewer Monster drinks and more green teas, those can both be habits, the former negative, the latter positive. Dailies aren’t positive or negative. They’re things you strive to get done on a daily basis. You can indicate how easy or hard it is for you to do each thing, and you get points accordingly when you accomplish them. Ditto for to-dos, except that they disappear once you’ve done them.

I haven’t actually played the game yet, and I don’t know if I will. The avatar is about ten pixels tall, so it’s not very attractive and it’s not intuitive. There are elaborate Wiki pages to help you along if you’re into reading instructions, which I’m not. There are also support groups called guilds which might be helpful, again, if you’re into that kind of thing. (There are two writers guilds, so there’s that.) For me, it’s the lists of actions that do it.

It’s amazing what getting points or having points taken away does for me, psychologically. Making myself a cup of hot tea used to be one of the hardest things. I was a chain tea drinker in Holland. I always had a pot on, whereas here I told myself it was too hot, but even in the winter it was actually just too painful. Now, knowing that I get points for it, it suddenly seems like an easy thing to check off my list. And so it goes with most of the items on my dailies. Life changer!

There are plenty of bad habits on my habits list, like eating a ton of ice cream, or too much chocolate, but I’ve also added eating a small amount of ice cream as a good one, so I get points for eating small amounts of ice cream. Yay! The habits list makes me more mindful of my choices. So when I’m about to grab a Monster drink at the convenience store, I think for a moment if I want to undergo the punishment of having points taken off. Can I afford it today? Do I care? Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes no.

I have tried having lists of things to do daily or regularly or weekly on my mirror in the bathroom, above the dresser, in the half bathroom, on the fridge, I’ve had a calendar in the half bathroom where I put smiley-face stickers on the days that I worked out. Nothing worked. I would forget about the lists the 99.9% of the time that I wasn’t standing in front of them, and when I was standing in front of them I no longer saw them.  But I’m on my phone all day. Checking Facebook, checking Flipboard to see what the ignoramus-in-chief is destroying today, putting my peeps to work in Forge of Empires, and the Habitica app is right there among them on my front page. Oh, and you get points for checking in.

Maybe the most important thing of all, for me, is the fact that even when I have indulged in several bad habits in one day, I don’t beat myself up as much as I used to, because I am also reminded of all the good things I’ve done. Even on the worst day so far I also did at least three good things. My avatar has died twice, but she starts over the next day. And hey, I’m back to drinking tea, so that’s progress.

I’ll discuss the other three apps tomorrow.

4 responses to “Working on Wellness: Habitica

  1. I’ve never stopped drinking tea. so that already makes me feel a lot better. But of course here it’s much easier being the English offspring country that NZ is. Wishing you good luck with that app, and every country has it’s good and bad things, remember that 😉

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  2. It was 21 years ago this month that we moved to Germany. But it was a couple years before that when I decided that it was time to move.

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