3 min read

April's butterfly effect

Do you know what time travel and habits have in common?

Consequences. In the sea of mundane and seemingly random actions and words, one move could change the fate of the world – or simply your next day. The butterfly effect in action.

(I don't mean to sound like a deep and wise bro here, I just watched the new episodes of Doctor Who, my favourite sci-fi show in the world.)

From a mix of highs and lows, my April became a butterfly for my health. I still feel the gentle breeze from its wings and the ripple from where it flew.

In case you missed, I did a similar recap of my highs and lows in February and March. It always feels incredibly therapeutic to share these reflections-out-loud.

Onto you, April 2024!

1. When we came back from Sri Lanka back to Austria, my body just gave up. I used to be a fan of long journeys (once I did a 40-hour bus ride from Switzerland to Ukraine) and sleeping wherever there's barely a pillow – but apparently, not anymore. This time, I got a cold AND my muscles got so sensitive it felt like I was on fire. I cried as I couldn't sleep, nor rest – every move was pure pain.

2. When my cold symptoms started fading away, I began the "body" audit. My key assumption was not only I needed to strengthen my muscles but do it in a correct way. I felt like a robot-pretending-to-be-human googling "How to sleep on your side" and watching videos on how to walk and sit for a healthier posture. Pain made me desperate yet focused: I looked at every little thing that I could tweak to influence my well-being. Does picking up my cats with straight back, bending knees, and open shoulders remove the pain? Nope. But do I feel less pressure in my lower back? Absolutely.

3. I did a marathon on posture as my morning exercise. Yes, you read it right – and I guess my mum now feels vindicated for all her "stop slouching" comments. For 10 days, I've applied diligently everything I learned on what to strengthen and what to stretch, and finally... my pain went down. What rose instead was enormous relief... and a sense of pride – what if I could prevent these bouts of pain that happen every now and then? What if I could keep going and exercise at home? What if I could even lose weight?

4. I loved (and still do) the feeling of my muscles and the awareness that prickled me throughout the day. Morning exercises are my version of going to school at 7:30am: You have to do it but you hate it with all you've got. (The only sport I've ever tolerated was swimming – and as a competitive swimmer, I've missed my body in motion, when you feel every muscle and move.) Even when I drag myself out of bed to exercise, I cannot describe the sense of pride and joy that fills me afterwards – because I moved, I took care of my body, and I feel it.

5. I ventured beyond stretching and focusing on posture, and started the training journey of strengthening muscles and losing weight at home. Exercising has been on my "goals" list for years but every year I shelved it for "another year". I've been in pain and gone through multiple diagnoses for years, and yet that invisible exhaustion held me back. Maybe this time it was the momentum from small actions working, maybe it was the idea of exercising at home instead of gyms and all that, maybe the goal of relieving pain and feeling strong resonated deeper than external "losing weight", maybe... ah who knows? Either it was a small random action, or a bunch of them – something rippled to where I am today. Spoiler: I've been exercising and crying from having to do 132 squats but let me tell you more in my May recap 😉

6. Ah, of course reading helped me a lot at that time: I read 16 books. My favourite was a young adult adventure duology by Mary E. Pearson, "Dance of Thieves" and "Vow of Thieves" – the pace of the story, the world-building (remnant kingdoms after the civilisation's collapse), a touch of romance. Another strong recommendation is "7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle" by Stuart Turton – a murder mystery layered so incredibly well it broke my brain.

7. I barely wrote anything, and yet I'm at peace with that. April was unusual for me not only because I started exercising and taking care of my health (my body now be like THANK YOU) but because... I took a lot of action. Normally, I'm a reflective (over)thinker, yet it felt nice to switch and do more, even if it's just building a routine that would let me thrive in life and work and else – without pain – in the long run. I missed writing these little essays, so I'm coming back – with more energy and joy 🫶