“I’ll take time for myself… As soon as I finish my endless list of other To Dos.”
Sound like you? Well, it sure sounds like me and pretty much all of my clients! We have all the right intentions to make healthy change in our lives, but feel we just don’t have the time to do it. I wanted to figure out how we can “crack the code” on what it takes to build a healthy habit and if there was any way to make it feel effortless (or at least not difficult) in as little time as possible. Five minutes is a good place to start, I thought.
As it turns out, habits are really subconsciously controlled by your brain so they really are effortless once they are true habits. Until then, you have to think about it.
Getting in Good Habits
I found this podcast with Rona Renner, R.N. and Dr. Christine Carter discuss the benefits of taking just five minutes of time for yourself – whether it be for making a healthy meal, stretching, meditation, getting a glass of water or another healthy activity you can do in 5 minutes.
In it, they share eight steps to make healthy activities, habits. Here are the first four steps found in Part I of the podcast, Getting in Good Habits.
(1) Contemplation. Think about what you want to change. It sounds simple enough, but not enough of us take the time to think about what will truly make a healthy difference in our lives.
(2) Do your homework. How are you going to do this? Do you need new supplies to do this change. Taking time to prepare yourself for change. If you take a little bit of time to research what it takes to actually make this change, you’ll be more prepared to make long-lasting change. Make a list of all the things that will get in your way.
(3) Set your goal, and make it public. No one can make real change alone; everyone needs some sort of support, right? So tell your spouse, children, friends, and coworkers. Not only will it hold you more accountable to yourself, but you’ll also get the added benefit of having a support system all along the way.
(4) Make a list of what will help you succeed. By breaking down your change into small steps, you’ll increase your odds of success. Start small, and build up, as they say. So if you have a goal of taking time for yourself for meditation, maybe start with 30 seconds to a minute.
You can do it challenge: Start today. Pick just one thing that you want to change to make your life healthier and happier. (and let me know about it in the comments)
Remember, change starts in tiny, tiny steps. Imagine the absolute LEAST you can do. That’s your starting point. Anyone can make a small change for the better. Even those of us who put our pants on inside out, skip flossing most days, and can’t seem to get laundry done. (I know I’m not alone in this.)
Just with any skill, forming habits takes practice. No one wakes up, decides they want to run a marathon for the first time, and goes outside and does it. My first race was a 5K, not a marathon. That race started with a work “bootcamp” class with some jogging thrown in.
Your exercise starting point might be walking – even if “just” around the block. Then you might run around the block. You’ll continue to move towards your goal in achievable, realistic steps until you’re comfortable with the idea of running an entire marathon…and then one day, you’ll do it!
This habit is just like any other one you want to change in your life. Start small…teeny tiny, in fact! Then make those small changes habit by practicing them over and over again. And then move to the next small change.