We are creatures of habit. We do most of our daily actions out of habit. Without thinking.
This means that habits can help us feel better, get more fit and healthy.
Or they can make us feel worse. Eating out of habit. Not exercising out of habit.
Once we’re “in a habit”, it’s easy to maintain.
But why do we so often think, “I can’t be bothered to create that habit”?
Often it’s because we can’t see the benefit in that small action.
We only look at the “10 minute walk” and think, “how is that going to make a difference?”
Instead of looking at the result of doing the habit once, we have to look at the result of doing the habit over a longer period of time.
What will happen if I do 10 minutes of yoga every day for a year?
Rather than looking at just 10 minutes of yoga.
Stop and have a think. Will this habit serve you in the long run? If so, it’s a habit that’s worth doing.
If it won’t serve you in the long run, it’s not worth doing!
Living a healthy life is something that we do all the time. We don’t make changes just for a day or a week. Those changes need to long term changes. So you need to choose changes that you can maintain.
It takes effort to make a change. Whether it’s the effort to turn off the TV and go to bed, or the effort to create new habits.
Set your “minimum level” low. Just do a “tiny habit”.
You’re more likely to stick to a lower amount than a large amount.
For example, you want to start walking in the morning. (A great habit that will exercise your heart, wake up your body and get your mind into a mindful place.)
You need to make a commitment. If you commit to every day, you’ll find that after 3 days, you skip a day. Your brain says “I’ve failed so I might as well jack it all in!”
(Not a great way to think about it but moving on….)
If you commit to 2 times a week, you may decide to go for 3 walks. Bonus! Then you tell yourself that you’ve stuck to your commitment AND even done more.
You feel like a winner and stick to your commitment until it’s an ingrained habit. Then you don’t even think about it. You just do it.
When you identify with a thought “I don’t drink alcohol” or “I don’t eat meat”, you take away all choice.
(You may think that choice is a good thing but actually our brains don’t really like choice. It makes them work too hard!)
Once the “choice is made”, you don’t have to do anything more. Just stick to the choice.
Put a time limit on it. Try a habit for a month and see how you get on with it.
Dr Orlena is a health coach. She helps busy mums go from "I can't lose weight" to feeling fit and fabulous. Find out more about her here.