The process of establishing healthier habits can become an unpleasant chore if done abruptly and half-heartedly. As a fitness trainer and massage therapist, I’m often asked for strategies on how to incorporate them to sustain them. Several factors can influence them in either direction; your support system, stress levels, work, and family responsibilities. It’s best to focus on what is under your direct control. For this blog post I’ll share strategies that are practical and easy to implement in any lifestyle.
What I often see is people have the best of intentions and the utmost enthusiasm without a solid plan. Imagine running toward a gleaming lake on a crisp summer day, eager to jump right in, unaware of the alligators below. Was that too dramatic of an analogy? Maybe a pinch, but I wanted to paint a clear picture! A strategic plan can help with converting all that time and effort into a long-lasting practice.
When embarking on forming healthier habits, celebrate mini-milestones, and take a step-by-step, day-by-day approach.
Decide Your Ready, Plan Out The Details
Begin by making a decision – mentally prepare – and focus on forming one habit at a time. Then plan how you will implement it into your life. Sometimes it’s not enough that said habit will have a positive effect on your health. It has to be meaningful and important enough to you, to allot time out of your day and focus on it. Once your mind is set, plan out the details. How will you incorporate it into your life? What time of day best suits you? Could it fit in with other activities you are already doing easily? For example, I drink a green smoothie right after a morning movement routine, just before an aromatic cup of coffee. I leave my NutriBullet right next to the coffee machine to serve as a visual reminder! Point being, make it easy for yourself! Rearrange your surroundings to facilitate the habit you are trying to form.
Have A Support Person
Simple so far? There are lots of bits and pieces but they are quite simple to establish. When embarking on forming healthier habits, celebrate mini-milestones, and take a step-by-step, day-by-day approach. This is why having a support person is so helpful. Someone to share in your victories and offer motivation. This could be a family member, close friend, or support group. You could even share your goal on your social media channel if you’re comfortable with that. The focus here is to have someone supportive around to offer a different perspective and hold you accountable while respecting your values.
Have Good Stress Management In Place
Stress happens to us all the time, unfortunately, not all of it is that positive eustress that we benefit from. Having stress-reducing rituals in place is essential to our well-being. This could be as simple as a brisk walk or breathing exercises – the simplest acts bring the most pleasure. For me it’s exercise, music, and journaling. These are practices I keep in place daily. Stress wreaks havoc on the body, keeping daily rituals that tap into our parasympathetic nervous system – that’s our rest and digest mode – helps the body deal with stress better, provides us with mental clarity, and supports our overall health.
Set Up Healthy Boundaries
Every opportunity you take on comes at a cost to your health and well-being. It’s important to set up healthy boundaries with friends, family, and work. It’s okay to say “No” sometimes, or maybe a “can I get back to you on that”, or “I’m a bit overwhelmed at the moment, could we schedule it for another time?”. Consider your capacity. I think innately we all want to immediately help out, and prematurely say yes when friends, family, or work, request our help. This might lead to unnecessary burn-out, resentment, or perhaps, keep us from truly giving ourselves completely to any one project or person – including ourselves. I know, it’s easier said than done, I’m still trying to get comfortable with this bit of advice. Remember to keep it polite, honest, and be realistic with your time and energy reserves.
Lastly, If one day doesn’t go as planned, forgive yourself, and jump right back in! Don’t disregard all the effort you have put in place.
I hope this post has been insightful and provided you with tips you can start using right away. Please share with someone you think would benefit from this information. As always, your feedback and comments are welcomed.
Thanks for stopping by!
Stand tall, Breathe deep-
NYS Licensed Massage Therapist