Creating new healthy habits

Oasis Living Magazine, September 01, 2011

The summer break will soon become a distant memory. With the kids going back to school and the resumption of activities, we delight in seeing the people we haven’t seen for the last couple of months. But what next? Many of us fall back into routines where there never seems to be enough time for the things we love to do. We find that life revolves around the many tasks we have to do, rather than the activities we enjoy.

September is a great month to take the opportunity to revise our patterns and create new routines. This might involve starting a new health regime, taking up that hobby you have been promising yourself, balancing your work or life commitments, or writing in a daily gratitude journal. We don’t have to wait for New Year resolutions to create healthy habits. September is the perfect month to instill the behaviors that we want to become rituals.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a habit as a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetitions – a series of actions that we perform on a regular basis, where eventually, we don’t even think about them. These actions become a part of our lives.

Here are some suggestions of new healthy patterns that you may want to consider:

• Eating a healthy breakfast

• Taking vitamins

• Drinking more water and/or green tea

• Expanding your social circle

• Flossing every day

• Walking every day

• Spending more time with the family

• Getting enough rest

• Stretching or taking up yoga

• Learning how to relax

• Sleeping more

• Stretching or taking up yoga

• Learning how to relax

So how do we create new habits? Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Decide what new habit you consider important. Write it down. This will help you to focus on the desired end result. Knowing the “why” and the benefits of this new habit will help you to stay motivated. It is also important to be aware of the sacrifices you will need to make to achieve this. You might need to extend yourself – move out of your comfort zone.

2. Concentrate on one new habit at a time. If you want to break a bad habit, you must replace it with a new habit. For example, if you want to cut down on caffeine, you might want to replace your coffee with green tea.

3. Commit to twenty-one days. It has been speculated that it takes 21 days to ingrain a new habit. A three-week commitment seems less daunting than thinking that you need to do it for the rest of your life. By the end of the 21 days you will feel a sense of achievement, and the new habit will become natural and much easier to keep.

4. Create the right environment. If you decide to eat healthily, make sure to fill your fridge with healthy choices. If you want to exercise in the morning, prepare your bag and your running shoes the night before.

5. Be consistent. If you want a habit to become natural, it is best to do it regularly, particularly at the beginning. A more consistent approach improves your chances of the habit becoming automatic.

6. Visualize: Focus on the end result. Picture yourself finishing the marathon or succeeding with your desired habit.

7. Think positive. Monitor your thoughts. Positive thoughts bring positive actions, and therefore positive results. Create an affirmation to help you stay focused on your new healthy habit. For example: I walk every day and I love it!

8. Be flexible. Avoid the “all or nothing” attitude. If you miss one day of working out, don’t beat yourself up. Accept and understand that sometimes events or situations arise and you have to adapt to them. Hopefully, you’ll be able to make it up later in the week. And if not, so be it. Refocus on completing all your workouts the following week.

9. Chart your progress and reward yourself. Celebrate your success.

Start the new academic year with vitality! Put some excitement and energy into organizing the right patterns for yourself and your family to have a successful and healthy year. To do so, remember that the actions that we execute repeatedly form our habits. Challenge yourself to adopt a new healthy habit and keep to it for the next 21 days and beyond. Promise yourself you will do it. Good luck!


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