As days lengthen and the temperature rises, all of nature seems to wake from its winter dormancy. This could be the perfect time to take a look at your lifestyle and do a bit of spring cleaning. Taking on a few good habits, and losing some not-so-good ones, can bring big benefits to your health and general wellness. Check out some of the actions you can take to “clean-up” some of your habits to better your overall health.
Take inventory of your habits.
Take time to notice and track the things you do daily, weekly, and quarterly to care for your health and safety. This can be as simple as being mindful of your daily activities or as formal as spending time with a lifestyle inventory form or jotting down your daily habits in a notebook or bullet journal.
Notice patterns that emerge. After you’ve spent some time looking at your habits and general self-care practices, ask yourself which patterns or themes emerge. Write them down!
Discern if these habits and patterns are “good” or “bad” and identify those bad habits you would like to let go. Easier said than done, we know. But if you start small and follow a few simple steps, you might find that it’s not as big a task as you fear.
Let go of bad habits.
Start small and know your cues: Pick one small habit you’d like to kick and prepare to be patient. This habit took repetition to form and it will take repetition to release. If you lessen the opportunities you have to indulge in this “bad” habit, you have a better chance of breaking it once and for all!
Replace a bad habit with a good one: If you tend to scroll social media in bed when you are too stressed to sleep, think about reading a book instead. You’ll still get the relaxing transition time without a lighted screen telling your body to stay awake!
Keep motivated by keeping the benefits top of mind! In fact, you’ll have better luck if the benefit is significant to you and benefits your life in big ways. For instance, you already know eating too many ice cream cones isn’t great for your health, but ate them anyway. Instead, try telling yourself that a heart-healthy diet could potentially give you more years with your family or an increased ability to do things you love. That might be the very motivation you need!
Make healthy new habits.
If you have a bad habit to lose, you can replace it with a great new habit. Whether it’s reading instead of scrolling (as we mentioned before) or stopping by the farmer’s market instead of the ice cream stand (Hey! There’s an idea!) it can be an opportunity to build your strength, nutrition, or happiness instead of hindering it.
Want more ideas on healthy habits? This blog article might help.
Make a plan: Deciding to work out more is great, but your chances of getting the new plan into action increase if you have a plan to do it! Meet with a personal trainer to plan your workouts. If you want to make it a habit to relax more, don’t wait for it to happen. Book a series of massages and get them on your calendar! Once they’re booked, they’re much more likely to happen with regularity and become a habit!
TIP: If boosting your health with monthly massages is a habit you’d like to enjoy, consider a membership with your local Elements Massage ® studio. With more than 250 locations across the country, you can keep your habit–and the benefits--even when you’re traveling.
Get consistent. Habits require repetition to form. Attaching your new habit to a time of the day or day of the week will support you in making this new habit almost automatic. Need a little extra support? Consider setting a reminder on your smartphone or penciling it in on your analog planner or calendar–that’s a great way to chart your success too!
Keep your eyes on the prize! In a recent article, Dr. Leonard Epstein, who studies behavior change and decision-making, explains, “you can learn to postpone immediate gratification through episodic future thinking, or vividly imagining future positive experiences or rewards. It’s a great way to strengthen your ability to make decisions that are better for you in the long run.” Put another way, if you keep your long-term goals in mind, you’ll be more likely to make small daily decisions (i.e. keeping your new habit!) that inch you toward bigger goals!
Put your plan into action!
Now that you know what to do, it’s time to do it! Experts agree you’ll help set yourself up for success if you start small (1 or 2 habits at a time), track your success (use a calendar, bullet journal, or another accountability strategy) and think in terms of progress, not perfection.
Start small: This is so important it bears being said twice! Here’s why: it’s easy to look at your inventory and declare you’ll change everything starting tomorrow! But as we’ve all learned, it won’t be so easy tomorrow when you try to start. Picking just one or two habits to adjust at a time is a much better plan. Once you’ve mastered them, you can always add more!
Track your success: Every time you keep a good habit (or avoid a bad one) mark it on a calendar, notebook, or habit tracker. According to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, habit trackers support you in 3 important ways. They remind you to act, motivate you to continue, and provide immediate satisfaction by showing you how far you come (you know the satisfaction you feel when marking something off your to-do list? It’s like that, but better)! Try bullet journaling, a habit tracker app, or a simple paper habit tracker for easy (and rewarding) ways to record your success.
Celebrate the wins: As your relationship with better habits continues, be on the lookout for good outcomes like feeling healthier, noticing positive changes in your body, improvements in mood, sleep, performance, and maybe even aspects of your life that you hadn’t expected! These potential benefits are what it’s all about, and appreciating them might be the best tool you could have in your habit-changing arsenal!
Check-in at important intervals. Make a date with yourself to revisit your inventory and your progress in a few weeks. Ask yourself if your plan is working and if you’re seeing the results you hoped you’d see. You may find you’ve taken on too much. You may discover you could have taken on a bit more. You may realize you’ve done none of the things you hoped you’d do and you’re back at square one.
If things are going well, CELEBRATE! Congratulate yourself on a job well done. Enjoy the benefits you’ve experienced so far and those you see coming your way in the future. You might even decide you’re ready to move on to the next habit on your list! Things are going well, and they’re about to go even better!
If things aren’t going well FORGIVE YOURSELF. When we’re talking about habits it’s easy to fall into an all-or-nothing attitude. After all, you either kept your habit or you didn’t, right? Either way, be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself. If you find that difficult to do, consider reading this article on mindset. It might help you feel better and find new paths to success!
If you’re keeping your habit most of the time, or even some of the time you’re still getting benefits you wouldn’t get if you hadn’t tried at all! Improving your lifestyle starts with improving your habits, little by little, day by day. And remember, if your goals center on improved physical, emotional or mental wellness, Elements Massage studios are here to support you! Massage therapists are trained in the newest–and most ancient–massage techniques and can customize your massage service to support your personal goals and needs. Book a series of appointments today and make us a habit in the coming year.