Last updated on July 25th, 2023
In our daily lives, we find ourselves effortlessly falling into routines and habits. Some of these contribute to our wellbeing while others diminish it. When the detrimental habits accumulate or subtly tip the balance of our daily existence, it can begin to take a toll on our health. This might show up as lousy energy, poor sleep, niggling symptoms – or some combination of all of these. Deep down, we all know whether we harbour habits that hinder our health and happiness. And the reality is, most of us do.
Perhaps yours is an ever-increasing sugar intake, nightly imbibing a glass (or two) of wine, or mindless hours spent scrolling through social media. Each of us gravitates toward different vices and, for various reasons, breaking free from them often feels impossible. Life is demanding, change seems unbearable and the road to transformation appears daunting. Or perhaps you manage to stave them off for a short period of time before they begin to creep back in again. The thing is, even the smallest modifications can yield remarkable returns in terms of our health, energy, and overall outlook on life. Maybe you’re simply trying to change too much at once? Here are three ways to make sustainable changes to those less nourishing habits.
Try taking a break
Research reveals that a well-timed hiatus from our habits might be the key to creating lasting change. Experts suggest that four to six weeks is an ideal timeframe for a break that can truly make a difference. Considering the grand scheme of our lives, it’s such a brief period. If the thought of going without something or trying something new fills you with terror, it’s worth pausing and reflecting on what lies at the heart of that fear. Often, we evade the things we need the most. Set aside judgement and embrace curiosity as you ponder the driving force behind your emotional response. This introspection presents a remarkable opportunity for growth and self-understanding, shedding light on the motivations behind your choices and behaviours. Moreover, the insight gained from our response to the break can often be just as valuable as the break itself. I created my six week Shake Off Sugar program with this in mind.
Small steps, big change
If quitting cold turkey feels insurmountable, consider setting smaller goals that lead to a complete break. For instance, if you want to reduce your caffeine intake, gradually taper it off over a couple of weeks, so it feels less challenging. Deprivation should never be the aim when removing something from our lives, as it often leads to an unhealthy seesaw between extremes. Slow, incremental changes prove more manageable and sustainable.
Find a more nourishing replacement
Consider replacing health-detracting habits with constructive or beneficial alternatives. Let’s say you’re aiming to break the daily chocolate bar routine. Make some bliss balls to have on hand as a substitute. Craving a break from takeaways? Prepare slow-cooked meals on Sundays for the upcoming week and ensure a yummy and nourishing dinner awaits you after a long day. If a social media detox appeals, plan ahead and envision how you’ll fill that newfound time. It could involve reading a book, exploring nature on leisurely walks, prioritising restful sleep, or reconnecting with loved ones. In fact, why not gather like-minded friends who are also committed to breaking their habits and embark on this journey together? The camaraderie and support can make the experience exponentially easier.
When working to break a habit, it’s crucial to envision the rewarding outcomes you’ll achieve through this transformative shift. Improved mood, heightened energy levels, better digestion, and calmer responses are just a few examples of the benefits you might foster. Stay focused on your ‘why’ (what drove you to want to make the change) along with the anticipated benefits.
The power to change lies firmly in our own hands. I encourage you to take steps toward transforming the habits that no longer serve you sooner rather than later. Remember, slipping back into old habits is not a failure; it’s an opportunity to examine the self-talk that arises and the factors that influenced your choices in those moments. Acknowledge that every day is a fresh start, a chance to recalibrate and realign with your intentions.