First thing is first, there is absolutely no point doing January goal-setting, resolutions and 'new year new me' plans if it's going to put any kind of additional stress or pressure on you. That said, a new beginning of any kind can be a great gateway to setting one or two new healthy habits. The problem is, so often we pile too much on our to-do list, set the expectations way too high and then fall off the wagon a couple of weeks in.
If you (like us) are planning on taking a gentle, loving, nourishing approach to setting new healthy habits, then here are our top 5 tips for making them stick:
1. Remove the barriers
The best one here is to take the path of least resistance if you're trying to actively do something, and add resistance if you're trying to avoid something. It's actually really simple, here are some examples:
- You want to get out for more walks and jogs. Leave your walking boots and coat somewhere accessible rather than stuffed at the back of a cupboard.
- You want to remember to take your probiotics every morning, leave them by the kettle where you'll see them or in the cupboard where you'll reach for your mug first thing.
- You want to avoid processed foods, don't have them in the house.
- You want to spend less time on your phone, have a screentime reminder, and a designated drawer to put away devices for the evening.
Sounds simple, and it is! Sometimes the simple things can be the most effective.
2. Don't do too much at once
It can be tempting to go all out with 20 new ideas and habits, especially when other people are doing lots of things. Jill's giving up alcohol, that's a good idea, Tom's doing a running challenge that would be cool, Mum and Dad have taken up yoga, and Suzy's started a fun looking savings plan, I should do that. The thing is, if we try and do too much at once it can be overwhelming for our systems and result in plate-spinning, and ultimately, plate-dropping!
Make a list of priorities and then tackle them one or two at a time, giving each adequate amount of time to bed into your lifestyle. Research shows that it takes around 2 months, or 66 days to establish something as a new habit, so take your time.
3. Pair with a reward until it's routine
Initially, depending on what it is of course, it might feel like a huge effort until its established in your subconscious mind as an ongoing part of your lifestyle. That's why it can be useful to pair it with something that can offer a dopamine hit at the same time. Think:
- Ironing with a podcast
- Running with your favourite music
- Take your probiotics and supplements with your favourite morning tea
- Do your emails or a boring task in a coffee shop
- Start an exercise class or walking habit with a friend
- Get into some healthy cooking with a new cook book
4. Track it initially
The other thing it can be useful to do initially is to track any activity or progress. This can be as simple as using a pen and paper to track things like spending, activity, caffeine or water intake. Sometimes our existing habits are so deeply ingrained we're not even aware of them, so the act of writing them down or using an app to track your new habit can be really useful for keeping you motivated and ingraining the habit.
5. Do it with others
My favourite tip! Aside from the obvious accountability benefits, it's also just much more enjoyable to take up a new habit with someone else. If you can't rope in your friends, family, partner or kids to try something new with you can always join in with us at microbz and sign up for the 90 day Gut Reboot.