HealthWISE Integrated Care Manager, Anne Williams, talks about creating new, and healthy, habits.
Health is an important value for me and I understand that eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly contributes to my health and wellbeing. So what is stopping me from exercising consistently? For me, I need to create a habit.
For several years I went with my husband to a personal training session Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays before work. I never really enjoyed it but I felt that I needed to exercise and this was a good away to ‘get it out of the way’. It became a habit that I didn’t need to think about. I did feel strong and reasonably fit and it helped me keep my weight in a healthy range.
After a few niggling injuries I decided that the gym sessions were not for me. It felt too hectic and ‘masculine’ and I wanted to start my days in a more gentle way. The problem was that I now had to create a new habit. It hasn’t been easy and it is definitely a work in progress.
Here are some of the strategies that I find helpful when creating a new habit;
- Make sure your new habit aligns with your life values. If health wasn’t important to me, then trying to establish a new habit would be even more difficult.
- Choose something enjoyable; I live in the country and can go for a walk in the mornings. It is free, quiet, calm and doesn’t lead to injuries. Perfect. Pick something you enjoy – swimming, cycling, the gym, yoga.
- Set achievable goals; don’t set a goal that you will walk everyday for the rest of your life. You will fail. My goal is 3-4 times per week. Your goal may be to lose a few kilos, reduce your blood pressure or complete a 5 km fun run.
- Clear the path; I have had to identify what is getting in the way and clear the path to make exercising easier. Leaving my exercise gear ready next to my bed works for me.
- Commit to the challenge. Commit to your new habit for 2-weeks. Keep track of your progress and apply some kindness to yourself if you don’t quite achieve it. Imperfect action is still action. Identify any barriers and clear the path again if you need to. Commit to another 2 week and so on.
The view that Anne enjoys during her ‘healthy habit’.
Creating healthy habits takes time and commitment but you will reap the benefits in your own wellbeing.