Habits. “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up”. I love habits - because the good ones, once in place, make living a relatively healthy existence pretty easy. We don't want to give the good ones up, so once they are “in”, they will stand you in good stead for years to come. But the lets call them "not so great” habits? These are the annoying little b*******. The things we keep on doing, despite trying our hardest to stop. So, how do we even form habits in the first place? Consider the simple act of brushing your teeth. We all (at least I hope we all!) brush our teeth twice a day. It isn't something we have to prime ourselves for, or actively remind ourselves to do. We just do it. It is so deeply ingrained in our routine that it takes almost zero effort to do. We put our toothpaste and toothbrush in a room we always use when we get up and before we go to bed. We put them next to other things like face wash to increase our liklihood of using them. We basically make the whole task as EASY as we possibly can. Chances are you had a parent or caregiver, some person of authority, who EVERY SINGLE MORNING and EVERY SINGLE EVENING reminded you to brush your teeth as a child. Maybe they even told you why it was important, which helped even more as you got older and connected more to why it mattered.
Let's take this analogy over into your latest “health habit”. Think of something that you have been trying (with any level of success) to implement in 2023 that you have done to try and make yourself healthier. Maybe its going to bed earlier.
Having breakfast every day.
Going to the gym.
Eating less chocolate.
Drinking less wine.
It doesn't matter, just think of one thing (and I know you will all be able to think of something 🙂 ) Now look at how you have gone about trying to implement this habit. Did you sit and really consider the long term benefits? Did you have someone by your side reminding you why its important? Giving you a nudge to make sure you actually do it? Are you making it easy and simple to implement this new thing by “sticking” it to something else you already do? Have you, in short, made it as easy as you possibly could to make sure it happens? Or have you been doing it out of fear, or because someone else is doing it. And you've been doing it largely alone without anyone in your corner as your guide to make sure you keep doing the thing, so its been too easy to just stop. No one will notice, and it won't matter, right? Are there are just too many little barriers and temptations in the way which means after a few days/weeks, you're back where you started? Habits are POWERFUL. They are your foundation and your roadmap for how you will be living your life in decades to come. The earlier you kick-start the great ones, and replace the “not so great” ones, the better you will feel.
So, how do you do this, I hear you ask?
5 Simple, Powerful Ways to Kick Start New Healthy Habits
1. Find the Pull
What is it about this new habit that will really pull you forward? Ie. if your goal is to cut down your alcohol consumption from 25 to 10 units per week, write down all the benefits you'll get once you do this.
Ie. Save £xx /week (which you can then put towards a weekend away)
Feeling more refreshed and less groggy in the morming
Less post-wine anxiety/guilt
Whatever it is, find that positive pull rather than "ought to/should do" type language, which is only going to pull you along through guilt and fear for so long.
2. Share the Destination
There's nothing quite like a bit of extra accountability to help you on the days where your brain starts to pull you back to your old ways.
Tell someone about your plans, and if its doable, bring them along the ride and get them to do it too. There is nothing more powerful than a quick pep talk on a day you feel you might cave.
3. Make it EASY
Now this depends on what it is you are trying to do, but let's take the wine example. Obvious step here - don't buy wine. If it isn't in the house, it cannot be drunk.
If the wine is magically finding its way into your shopping basket while out grabbing some mid-week essentials, make a list of what you need and tell yourself to stick to it. Nothing ends up in the basket if it ain't on the list
And if you're out socialising, opt to drive. Give your friend a lift. Everybody wins 🙂
4. Reward Yourself
As you step by step, consistently work on embedding your lovely new habit - give yourself a pat on the back - regularly. We are SO bad at acknowledging our wins, constantly sitting in the mess of the things we perceive we haven't done right/well/at all.
So CONGRATULATE YOURSELF. If you got to the gym early on Monday, say a resunding well frigging done to yourself.
If you went out and had lemonade instead of wine, tell yoursefl how amazing you are for making that decision.
Setting yourself a goal of embedding a new habit doesn't mean you have to keep doing this forever.
Let's say you start running, and you go twice a week for 3 months. The weather starts getting colder, so you decide to switch from running to indoor cycling.
Regularly reflecting on your habits and routines and making sure they a) still "fit" around your life, and b) remain enjoyable (this is important!) is a key aspect of building and nurturing habits that serve you. If you're ready to start getting better habits in place so you can make 2024 an amazing year, I invite you to book in for a free 15 minute Hormone Health Check call and we can hash out your main challenges and come up with a plan to get you moving in the right direction.