The power of routine AND change...
With the lightening of restrictions and promise of more freedom to come, now might be the time to start considering the sort of new routines you have settled into during this period of self-isolation. Have you unconsciously fallen into bad habits like watching too much Netflix or sporadic snacking? Or are you consciously building new habits that are making you a better version of yourself?
Creating consistency in your day is a crucial way of helping you cope with being stuck at home. But it’s equally important that you choose the right habits that elevate your life while continuing to be open to change and willing to put in the effort that it takes to grow as a human.
One of the best ways to keep yourself accountable and ready to return to real life when the time comes is to set a routine and stick to it. Whether it be setting calendar alerts or alarms for your workout times, making sure you shower and get dressed as if going to your workplace before sitting (or standing) at your computer and/or allocating yourself time to prepare and enjoy proper healthy meals, some habits will come easy to some of us, others might require change and practice to implement a healthy routine.
For many of us, while we may possess the desire to change, change does not come easily. It requires a will of the mind as well as repetition and consistency with daily, positive habits and routines designed to keep you in alignment with your goals.
Many of you will have now heard of neuroplasticity, which basically means the brain alters itself whenever we learn something new and we think this is pretty cool! We have BILLIONS of brain cells which are constantly communicating with the rest of our body through our nervous system and our nerve cells are arranged by what we learn, remember, experience, feel and envision. This literally means when we change our mind, we change our brain!
When you begin to intentionally envision a new reality (exercising daily, prioritising healthy eating, excelling at your career, developing more meaningful connection with your family) your brain is rewiring itself and your body will be reconditioned to prepare itself for that new event. If you visualise your desired outcome daily and feel what it would be like to experience that transformation your brain will change to help you achieve your goal. If you want to make healthy changes become an easy part of your routine, here are some tips to get you started.
1. Write a simple mission statement to let your brain know you are serious! Your statement should induce positive feelings for you and avoid negative words like ‘not’ and ‘stop’. You could say “I will exercise for 1 hour, 5 days a week so that I look and feel healthy”. Your intention is like a mental compass, if it is clear you are more likely to find your way.
2. Find and list five strong reasons why you want to make your desired change. If you feel passionate about the change and remember the reasons you want it in the first place it will be easier to stay motivated.
3. Review your plan or action steps as soon as you wake up to set yourself up for the day, then again before bed to see how your behaviours aligned with your goals. Mentally rehearsing what steps you plan to take each day can prime your brain to automatically follow your intentions. Review and remind yourself of your entire plan, and then most importantly, take the first step!
4. Hold yourself accountable by consistently demonstrating change each and every day. Make sure the choices you make today are not the same as those you made days, weeks, or months ago. Be aware of giving into familiar feelings, cravings and urges. Standing strong against these old feelings is a way to find the new you. Want your health to be different? Want your life to be different? Then you have to DO something different.
5. Create a reward system for yourself, something visual where you can record your wins or tick off steps you have achieved. This will help reinforce your new habits and you’ll get the feelings of self-esteem, worth, and accomplishment you deserve. If one day does not go as planned, never be discouraged, just start again the very next day. There is no place here for negative emotions such as guilt or self-depreciation and no such thing as failure, just fresh chances to make more changes each new day.
6. Sit with the unnatural, unfamiliar, and uncertain feelings of no longer being the same. Change can be uncomfortable. Lift yourself into a new state of being by asking yourself how you will feel when these changes you are currently making become habit? What does your life look like? Raise your energy with positive thoughts and feelings and get excited about the new, improved you. Live like whatever you desire has already happened.
7. Leave little reminders like pictures and notes around (desk, fridge, mirrors) to help keep you on track. Seeing these reminders daily will keep you on task by reminding you that what you are doing is important. Listen to motivational lectures, books, or music when you can. Staying conscious of your future will inspire you to get there.
These are a few starter steps, The rest is up to you. What is important to remember is that transformation is possible for everyone, including you!