But what if you really want to change a habit? Maybe it’s a bad habit that makes you feel guilty or sad, or perhaps you want to create a good habit and have it stick as a regular in your life. How on earth do you go about this?
I joined a gym yesterday. Don’t panic; I will NOT be clambering on any rowing machines or sprinting down a treadmill anytime soon. I joined so that I could utilise their swimming pool and abundance of yoga and Pilates classes (the added bonus of a coffee shop swung the deal!). I want to create a good, healthy habit in my daily life and meet like-minded people.
Before I hit the ‘join now’ button or unearthed my swimming costume from the depths of the ‘won’t wear ever again’ pile, I decided to observe my day to day habits. I jotted down in my journal everything I’d done over a couple of weeks. I wrote down all the unhealthy snack attacks I’d had, all the TV re-runs I’d watched, and how my mood fluctuated when I was as sedentary as a sloth (most days!)
Interestingly I noticed that my busiest and most productive times were between 6.30am and 11am when I did most of my blog post sharing, commenting, and interaction on social media. I then settled down to write, either blog posts or my current work in progress. Once lunchtime arrived, I started to slow down. For me, this is inevitable as I am still coping with the after-effects of my viral illness – I will curl up and get on with reading the books I have scheduled for the review team I’m a member of, so I’m working but also resting. Once the kids come home, I begin the family routine interspersed with work/social media.
It was quite insightful to see on a day to day basis where I was wasting time and when my bad habits emerged, but more interestingly, these periods of procrastination also coincided with my dip in mood. I realised that nothing would change about my anxiety and depression if I didn’t take small action steps. The habits I wanted to implement could fill that void of time and consequently lift my mood.
So, I joined the gym! Before I signed on the dotted line, however, I checked through my diary and added – in pen - swim sessions twice a week and booked on a Pilates class. Just like a work meeting, doctor’s appointment, or social event, by adding my sessions in the diary it becomes a to-do task that has had time allocated to it. Recently, I was asked if I wanted to go for coffee but when I spotted the word ‘swim’ in my diary, I declined and suggested another date. That small change has helped me to create a better habit.
Another good idea, if you want to create better habits, is to gather yourself a support network. This may include a group of girls who go swimming with you, or simply texting a friend to say you’re going to the gym on a specific day. It makes you accountable for your actions, and you’re more likely to carry through with your intentions.
When it comes to our healthy eating habits, I have recently found that doing it all differently helped me enormously. I’d got myself into a dieting rut and spent most of my time over-analysing everything I ate. For me, this wasn’t good for my anxiety, so I decided to adopt the habits of a skinny person and just get on with my life and not think too much about weight goals. Years spent at slimming clubs have shown me the types of healthy meals I should be eating, and I no longer drink alcohol, so my weekend calorie count is nothing like it used to be. The relief I felt when I freed myself from dieting restrictions was incredible – and I lost 1lb!
I want my swimming to become a regular part of my life, but only I can create that. It takes 66 days to turn a small change into a routine habit but if I believe in myself enough then I’ll make it happen.
Do you have any habits you would like to shed? Or maybe you have a solid tip for changing routines and creating better habits? I’d love to hear your thoughts.