Practice isn't the thing that makes you good. It's the thing you do that makes you good. -Malcolm Gladwell
We, as humans, are most definitely creatures of habit. It starts when were young, eating and sleeping at certain times, usually directed to us by our caretakers. As we grow, we continue to implement habits, the point being that we no longer need to even really think about them. Of course, this is great when they are good habits. But sometimes negative ones can sneak in, and because they are habits, which form over time, they can be some what hard to break.
I often have members or clients who are trying to implement new habits to replace the old ones. Usually the patterns they are trying to break are: feeling stressed and skipping meals, then binging later; or staying up too late because they have very little time to do anything when they get home from work, then end up feeling really tired when they have to wake up early in the morning; but also not feeling energized to exercise in the evening, so they end up putting it off. I have so many other examples, and I am so sure that you have felt similarly. I know that I have!
The advice that I have to give is this: 1) remind yourself of the positive outcomes of the habit you're trying to implement and the negative consequences of the one you are trying to replace and 2) take baby steps. For me, when I am trying to change something in my life, I feel really excited and just go full force into it. After taking a step back and really looking at it, I realize this doesn't work. Of course, the positive mindset is great, but often, if we aren't realistic with ourselves, we set ourselves up for failure. So, not only are we not able to implement the habit, but when we fail, it gives us more reason not to even attempt changing things in the first place.
Sometimes, we don't really want to change. Be really, really realistic and honest with yourself. Assess where you are at! It is ok to not be ready to change something! The best thing you can do is be honest with yourself. Continue to ask yourself that question before you start working towards the change. Am I ready? Why do I want to change? What do I need to do to be ready to change?
Also: when you are making changes, be prepared for mistakes. It will happen, and this is the time to be gentle with yourself. GENTLE GENTLE! The way you speak to yourself is super important. Speak to yourself like you would a small child learning something new. Try not to view mistakes as failure, but instead, a learning experience. Maybe look at your mistakes up close and ask: what can I do next time that will make this better? Set yourself up for success! If you are having trouble going to the gym or exercising, set things out related to that to remind you, but also to know they are already ready for you to go! Think of all the excuses you will come up to not follow through, and find ways to make sure you can't use them!
Lastly, forming new habits to replace old ones, or just changing habits in general looks different for everyone. Remember: a LITTLE bit is better than NONE. "I only walked for five minutes" is still a step in the right direction. Doing a little bit of something is better than not doing it all. The more you do it, the easier it will get, and the longer you can do it! Please please, celebrate the little things! No one said that this was going to be easy (and if they did, who were they kidding). But you can do it!
Let me give you an example of something I have tried to change. Since Covid-19, I have been unemployed. Silver lining: it has given me the time to concentrate more on projects like this, along with the New Moon Wellbeing podcast, but also gave me more time to focus on the self care I have been neglecting. But I have been wanting to make sure that I get up early, to set a schedule for myself so that I can make sure that I am using my time wisely and efficiently. Waking up early is nothing new, as I have been a baker/pastry chef for many years, and 6am was usually my start time. But waking up early when I have no responsibility to anyone else has been a challenge. I wanted to make sure I got up at at least 7am every day. Being a night owl as of late wasn't going to work with that goal, so I started taking baby steps. First, I had to start getting ready for bed earlier (9pm), which includes putting on my pajamas, washing my face + skin care routine, getting the coffee ready for the morning, taking my contacts out, setting my alarm (only one) with a song I like (Steely Dan-Dirty Work), turning the lights down, and turning on my essential oil diffuser (Lavender). Of course, I have made my mistakes (turning my alarm off and falling back to sleep), but it has been getting increasingly easier! The more I set myself up for success, the easier it gets. Plus, there are a lot of benefits! I get more done, I feel more productive, I get to enjoy the early morning, and I actually end up feeling more rested. Maybe you aren't trying to get up earlier (because you already do, or that just isn't one of your goals), but maybe attempt to take baby steps towards something else you want to work on!
"Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including yourself" - Anne Lamott
Before we go, I wanted to share something more personal. If you dont know me at all, I would like you to know that I am a very emotional/sensitive person, maybe even a highly emotional/sensitive person. I used to battle with feeling bad about that, thinking that people would think that meant I was weak. I have accepted this about myself, and actually see it as a strength! However, after diving deeper into what that means and how that affects my day, I realized that adding morning and evening rituals would really ground me and really fill my cup so that I can offer more to the world during the day. Maybe you feel similarly?
Here is my morning routine:
Wake up ( Steely Dan-Dirty Work alarm!)
Make coffee in my already ready french press (this includes waiting for kettle to boil water)
Journal all of my worries and thoughts
Neti Pot (this removes any pollens or irritants that are in your nasal cavity, this helps so much with allergies WHICH I HAVE!)
Dry brush my body (this stimulates your lymphatic system and removes dead skin cells)
Shower (I only use vegan products in the shower! Your skin absorbs what you put on it!)
Skin care routine (Derma E face oil, Sun Screen SPF 50, Vitamin C Serum)
Gua sha (chinese skincare tool, I use rose quartz) which stimulates the lymphatic system in my face and neck)
Body oil body massage (I use Dr. Teals Lavender Body oil) Give yo body love!
Brush my teeth, use my tongue scraper (this removes toxins that build up over night), and oil pulling (this keeps your mouth healthy, and also removes toxins! Can do up to 20 minutes)
Meditate (I just sit with myself for up to 15 minutes, allowing my thoughts to come and go, and focus on my breathe)
Yoga ( I used to do Yoga with Adriene, but now I just come up with my own flows!) for about 30 minutes.
THEN OFF TO THE RACES!
I also, at some point during the day but usually after dinner, I go for a walk and listen to podcasts. I feel my best after grounding myself, and being outside and listening to voices and absorbing new information feels really good.
Of course, if you decide to try to implement a daily ritual too, please know that yours doesn't have to look like mine. Make it your own. Find things that you can do that make you feel really good, and do those things first thing in the morning. For me, I find doing these things every day ensures that I am taking care of my body and my mind, and allows me to be my best self. If I have a particularly overwhelming day, I will do some of these things again later in the day.
“How you start your day is how you live your day.How you live your day is how you live your life.”- Louise Hay
I hope you are were able to take something away from this, and that you can find ways to either change the habits you are wanting to, or finding ways to take care of yourself FIRST. For a long time, I struggled with the idea of putting myself first. I viewed it as selfish. How dare I put my needs and my self care before others? But then I realized, I simply am of no use if I am not at my best, and I can be my best when I take the best care of myself.
If you need any help or recommendations or just feeling like sharing your own habit journey or self care routine, please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com
Remember: YOU ARE AMAZING. YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO. Please be GENTLE with yourself. Speak nicely to yourself, forgive yourself for your mistakes, and know that the Universe believes in you and has so many great things in store for you. Until next time,