Self-care habits and routines can seem utterly elusive. How do you get started on a habit and actually make it stick? I have used every excuse in the book to delay and avoid changing a habit. But this year, I really want to focus and commit to what I say I’ll do. To do that, I’ve been employing a few strategies to get me there and I wanted to share those strategies with you today:
I love this concept from Gretchen Rubin’s, “Better Than Before”. You take a habit you do every day and you build on it by adding a new habit you want to start doing. The idea is that you incorporate it in a way that it becomes automatic and you don’t have to put in extra thought to make it happen.
Let’s say you want to start your day with a glass of water. You begin by connecting the action of getting out of bed with going for a glass of water. You essentially create a trigger, when I get up I drink a glass of water.
Now say you get that habit down after a week or two, you add another small, easy to implement habit onto the water habit. After I drink a glass of water, I stretch for 5 minutes.
By habit stacking we can easily create new routines and new habits that quickly and seamlessly become a natural part of our day.
Let Your Phone Remind You.
We all carry phones with us everywhere. And they are crazy-distracting. But what if we used that to our advantage? You can set up a reminder in your phone at set times each day, week or even multiple times a day.
Struggling to remember to drink water? Put in a reminder that says WATER.
Want to take a pause to breathe for 3 minutes? Put in a reminder that says BREATHE.
Want to bring more joy to your day? Put in a reminder that says JOY or SMILE.
It sounds simple, but it really works. How often do we say, “I just got into my day and forgot all about x, y, or z?” If you know this happens to you each and every day, this is a great strategy to break that cycle.
Wait 15 Minutes.
In the afternoons, I often find myself snacking. Particularly with two hungry kiddos home from school. But I’d like to do less of that. It is super-easy to give into the urges and temptations of having that afternoon snack and if I just sit there and think I don’t want to snack, chances are, I will. So, I need a strategy.
Waiting 15 minutes is more than just nugging it out and hoping for the best. Those urges really only last a short time, and then they typically do pass. There are a couple of ways to handle them.
- Sit and feel the urge for a snack. What does it really feel like? Why do you want a snack? Are you actually hungry? Could you wait until dinner?
- Do something else. In the afternoons before the kids get home I like to take our dog Lucy for a walk. It gets both of us moving and by the time I get back from the walk I’m usually not hungry.
- Instead of going for the snack, I try to drink a glass of water or make myself a matcha latte. It’s a little mommy treat so I feel like I am indulging but in a way that is really good for me.
Next time you feel an urge to snack, check social media, email or whatever other mindless habit you want to break, just notice it and see if you can wait 15 minutes. That’s all.
Shrink the Change.
More often than not, we want to make big changes. But, big changes are overwhelming and overwhelm leads to inaction.
Let’s say you want to drink 75 ounces of water each day but you currently only drink about 12 ounces. Instead of going from 12 ounces to 75 in a day, you could think of trying to get to 20 ounces the next day.
If that doesn’t happen, take it a step back again and find a water bottle that holds 20 ounces as you prepare for that first 20 ounce day. Or make your first step setting up reminders in your phone (see #2) to begin to make a routine in your day. Or take it a step back further still and just write a note to yourself and pin it up with your daily water goal.
Whatever the goal is, shrink it down to a step that you can take action on right away. Success leads to more success, so if you find a step that you can actually do, you are more likely to take the next bigger step too.
What strategies do you use to help you create new healthy habits in your life? I’d love to hear about them, share in the comments below!