Our habits influence everything in our lives, from the very bad to the very good. Creating new healthy habits to replace old unhealthy ones can be a bit of a struggle. I speak from experience here. I have found myself needing to upgrade my lifestyle after a long and arduous recovery from major surgery. Taking it easy was very necessary. However, because of the constant repetition, my body adapted and taking it easy became a habit. I also know all about rushing into things and becoming overwhelmed and exhausted and giving up. If I want change to happen it better happen right now! So how do we find balance when incorporating new healthy habits while avoiding burnout?
Make A Decision
It is a rare thing for me to want to change just one thing. Usually, there is a whole host of things, like get fit, go to more social events, make a weekly cleaning schedule…..you know how it goes. So I try to tackle all of them at once, starting them all on the same day and after a week forgetting what the plan was. It’s important to decide what you want to start first, making it part of your daily or weekly routine and then beginning something else when that task is solid. Change takes time and despite the fact I hate that it takes time is irrelevant. Each person will find the act of change a different experience. Some will be faster or slower at a particular habit change than others. Accepting how we as individuals negotiate change helps – a lot!
Trust me, in the long run you will make more progress by taking little steps consistently instead of biting off huge chunks and not being able to follow through. For example, as is typical of me, I tried to do too much in early recovery from surgery. I compared myself to other people in a similar situation who seemed to be able to do more than me. So I did more. A simple thing like a daily walk was a monumental task. Instead of increasing my movement every day by a minute or two, I wasn’t satisfied unless I did ten minutes extra. And where did I end up? Back in bed for a week with internal injury. Whatever your goal for new change is, do it little bit by little bit. If it’s waking up an hour earlier in the morning, do it five minutes a day, not the whole time period. If it’s healthier eating, make one change per week. It is more sustainable and gives your brain time to adjust. Very quickly these small focused changes become automatic behaviors that you don’t have to think about.
Patience Really Is A Virtue…..
but you don’t need me to tell you that. If you are in recovery from anything, it is one lesson I hope will stick. If you are ten years in recovery, it has taken you ten years to get where you are right? Now that’s patience! Applying that resolve and dedication, kindness and compassion in all areas of our lives makes a success of all we do. The habit sticks and we learn to understand how we process things individually. Making what is important to us our focus and losing the obsession with how other people do things will pay off big time. The act of comparison can be toxic to our desires for ourselves. Do yourself a favour and stop comparing. Incorporating healthy habits that are as personal as possible will help you stick with them.
Realise You Are Worth It
I can think of several situations in my life that, when trying to improve things, I would inevitably convince myself there was no point to it. Existential crises are one of my personal areas of expertise. I can convince myself that all my efforts are pointless and I should stay right where I am until I just die! Yep, depression will do that to you. However, when I look at where I am now and where I’ve come from, I can tell you, it is all worth it. I mean you may as well make the most of your time here and do fun stuff. Don’t get bogged down in the “I can’t” and embrace the “I can.” A year from now you won’t even recognize that person you left behind. Incorporating new healthy habits into your routine doesn’t have to be all or nothing.