From the moment you wake up until the moment you go to sleep, your day is a series of habits. Think about how you start your day, what you do first thing in the morning, before you leave the house, arrive at work, when you arrive back home. Habits fill our days, our life. Whether we want to start a new habit or break an old habit that no longer serves us, we need to be mindful and pay attention to what we do. Time passes quickly and we can find ourselves on “autopilot.” Here are a few tips for changing habits.
Creating New Healthy Habits
Once you know what new habit you want to create, you can try something called Habit Stacking. Tie a new habit to one you already have. Years ago, I wanted to fit a MELT Foot Treatment into my day. I decided to do a Soft Ball Foot Treatment while brushing my teeth. Now every morning, I start my electric toothbrush and grab my MELT Soft Ball. I wanted to start a meditation practice. I decided to give myself five to ten minutes each morning for that purpose. Now I put my coffee on and go into the living room, light a candle and listen to soothing music through my earbuds. It’s amazing how just five minutes of meditation can change my whole day for the better. These two small changes that I’ve stacked into my day don’t take up much time but have improved the way I feel both mentally and physically.
Another way to create habits is to keep needed items in plain sight. Research confirms that being able to easily perform a behavior leads to the greatest success. If you want to make a habit of exercising early in the morning, place your exercise clothes out the night before. If taking a healthy lunch to work is your goal, invest in a nice container for salads and a thermos for hot foods. The opposite works when trying to break a habit. If you don’t want to mindlessly snack after dinner, keep snack foods out of the house. If you want to break the habit of scrolling the internet on your phone, put your phone in a drawer or in another room. Adding an extra step or effort to the routine can help detour you from the habit.
Time It Takes to Build a Habit
There’s been debate on how long it takes to build a habit. I’ve heard anywhere from 21 to 90 days. Just as we are all different, so is the length of time it takes each person to build or change a habit. More importantly than how many days it takes is how consistent we remain. Focus on one or two small changes at a time and stick with them. Long term, making small changes can add up. Click Here to read more about the Importance of Building Habits and Routines.
Creating Rituals and Routines
Rituals: an act or series of acts regularly repeated in a set precise manner. This may sound formal but creating rituals that just take moments can have added benefits to your mental and physical health. Morning and/or evening rituals can include exercise, relaxation, spiritual practice and self-care. Starting the day with 10-15 minutes of daylight either through a window or by going outside will help set your circadian rhythm for better sleep at night. Having an evening ritual of shutting down from the day or preparing for the next workday can give you a sense of closure that allows you to relax and unwind. Having rituals in place can give you a sense of calm direction. If you find that you have trouble sleeping because your mind races, evening rituals can help calm your mind. Taking a relaxing walk after dinner, meditation, MELTing or journaling–instead of turning to screens–can become an evening ritual to help you clear your mind for sleep.
What Habits Would You Like to Change?
In menopause we may have to rethink our habits in order to keep our weight stable and continue to maintain or build muscle. Living pain free and healthy in our later years comes from a balanced lifestyle including adequate sleep and hydration, regular exercise including cardio and strength training, stress reduction and mindful eating. Click Here to read a past blog post Why Can’t I Lose Weight. As a health coach who specializes in working with women in menopause, I can help you build healthy habits into your life. Click Here to join my Free Facebook Group Losing Weight After 50.