How to cultivate healthy habits
Updated: Dec 20, 2019
If you could make one change to boost your wellbeing today, what would it be? It could be anything, from writing a daily gratitude list or starting the day with a guided meditation, to getting some exercise each day or prioritising sleep. Check out my Ten Tips for a Happier, Healthier Day for some more ideas. Big changes can be hard to make but small ones are much easier to stick to. Here are seven nuggets of advice for taking consistent positive action and cultivating healthy habits in your life.
Keep it simple
I don’t know about you, but when I decide to make a change, I want to change absolutely everything at once… and usually I end up feeling overwhelmed and give up! So what I’m practicing instead is sticking to a few small changes, say 1-3, at a time. Definitely a case of the tortoise and hare… One step at a time and you’ll get there.
Know your why
Why do you want to make this change? If you’re not sure why you’re doing something, it’s probably less likely to last. So return to your why, and perhaps even write it down. Many people find the act of writing something helpful for embedding it in their minds.
Prioritise your new habit by adding it into your diary or calendar, and treat it just like any important appointment that you couldn’t possibly miss. Put it right at the top of your to do list! You could even set an alarm on your phone if you’d like to do something at a certain time and a reminder works for you.
Be aware of self-sabotage
It’s easy to revert to our automatic behaviours, so it really helps to become aware of the ways you might unintentionally sabotage yourself! For instance, one of my goals recently has been to go to sleep earlier each night. Self-sabotage for me might be doing things that keep me awake in the evening, such as eating sugary food or spending too long looking at screens. Consider any self-sabotaging behaviours you may have and practice noticing each time they come up!
In whatever way works for you, keep track of your progress - it will help to motivate you and keep you accountable. I love the idea of a habit tracker that you can use to tick off your new habit(s) when you’ve done it. Below is an example of how you could track three things you'd like to do daily. If you don't fancy making your own, here's a free printable habit tracker you're welcome to use. You could track any new habit in this way, or even write in a notebook or journal if you enjoy writing. What will help you the most?
Give it 21 days
21 days is the length of time experts say it takes to form a new habit, so it seems the perfect length of time to commit to! Dedicate yourself to implementing your new habit everyday for three weeks and see how it goes. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t manage it everyday - you haven’t failed! Just hop back on track and carry on the next day.
Consider it already done
Close your eyes for a moment. Can you imagine how you will look, feel and think, having cultivated your new healthy habit? What effect will it have on your life? What benefits will it bring you? Visualise this in your mind and use this image as something to come back to if you feel yourself slipping.
I genuinely believe that every one of us is capable of making changes in our lives if we want to, so consider one change you might like to make in your life and believe in yourself to make it happen! Reach out if you’d like support to keep you accountable - I’d love to hear how you get on. Enjoy!