Don’t let your bad habits define you.

As many of you guys know I am facilitating the Diabetes Prevention Program over at the YMCA. I am coaching a group of people through lifestyle changes that can hep reduce their risk for developing Type ll Diabetes and I love love love it! It’s been really eye opening for me to see just how challenging behavior change can really be. It’s also making me do some “checking in” with myself on how I handle some of my own hard to break habits. Last week in class we talked about triggers… those cues in your home or work environment that lead to automatic behaviors. Basically habits… breaking old habits that do not serve us and creating new habits that bring us closer to the person we want to be. There’s two ways to tackle a trigger… either avoid it or create a better more positive behavior. Bad habits are tough little suckers.

Humans are creatures of habit. Our brains are wired to create patterns + habits and its so easy to get stuck in a “rut” of doing the same things. Automatically thinking the same thoughts. Making the same excuses. Or telling ourselves the same old story. Remember the days as kids when we had no idea what was in store for us in any given day? We would ask our parents “what are we doing today?” or better yet, we would get lost in an awesome make-believe game and let the fun unfold before us. We were constantly curious. Our minds were forging new neural pathways all the time!

Fast forward to “adulting” and most of us have lost touch with that creative, spontaneous curious side of ourselves. We fall into habits + routines that help us make sense of our busy lives. Habits can be pretty awesome- when they are positive, like some of those discussed in the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. But bad habits can be detrimental to our creativity + our health.

Confession time- here are a few of my bad habits…

– Constantly checking my social media feeds (like literally every 15min). I read that we spend an average of 4 hours every day checking social media feeds. Ugh. Yuck. Barfffff. I could do SO much with 4 hours. Fellow parents of tiny people, ya feel me?

– Waking up to the sounds of my kids waking up. Basically opening my eyes to being needed and not having any time to wake up and set my sights on having a good day. This one is bad. I wake up to the chaos of having little kids instead of meeting it head on with a positive attitude and full cup of coffee already in hand.

– Saying that I am an active person who exercises regularly when really the last time I worked out was last Tuesday! I mean that’s an automatic response, thinking and telling people that I am active. I did a little inventory on the amount of exercise I am really getting and it’s not great. I am currently not prioritizing exercise!

Ok, so 3 bad habits are enough for now. But these bad habits aren’t tough to break, its just a matter of making a different choice when you get face to face with that “trigger” that begins the sequence of behaviors. So here’s how I’m going to tackle these habits…

Reduce Social Media consumption

Ok this one should be easy, right? Just stop looking at it all the time!! But let’s back up- why am I always scrolling? What is the trigger or cue that leads me down that path…. well for me its usually boredom, lack of attention and seeing my phone laying in sight. So I’m going to designate a space in my house for screens that is not in common areas. My phone will live there when I’m home and I will have to make an extra set of decisions to seek it out and scroll. If you want more inspiration around this one find out if you need a digital detox! Ok that’s good. So boredom + lack of attention are the other triggers… how I have time to be bored is beyond me but my mind is constantly seeking something to do. The lack of attention in our culture is real. The mindfulness movement is gaining traction for good reason. Our minds are running wild like teenagers who just got keys to the new car. Instead of giving in to the feeling of boredom of feeling like I want distraction I am going to try to practice mindfulness in the moment. Here are some ideas for getting present.

  • Alternate nostril breathing is an awesome one, it helps to balance the right and left sides of the brain while calming the nervous system.
  • Gabby Bernstein has lots of ideas in her Miracles Now book, easy and quick spiritual practices that you can do in the moment.

Try a different Morning Routine

I already wrote an entire post about setting a better morning routine, maybe I need to re-read my own stuff! But mornings are tough- especially if you are a parent and have to immediately start tending to the needs of your kiddos first thing. I know the key is to wake up before the kids. So that means setting an alarm and getting up. Out of bed. So I’m going to set the timer on the coffee machine so the smell of freshly brewed caffeine will convince my tired self to get up. I’m also going to spend a few minutes visualizing my day. Here are some ideas to get you inspired for the day:

  • Oracle cards: grab a deck and choose a card to help shift your perspective and do some self reflection. I obviously have this horse deck!
  • Journaling: after you choose a card write down anything that comes up- allow yourself to dream briefly in the morning or set an intention for the day.
  • Essential Oils: choose a grounding oil like Frankincense or Cedarwood to breathe in a few calming breaths to root yourself before you start the day… if you need something more uplifting or invigorating try Peppermint or any of the citrus oils to boost your mood and awaken our senses Essential oils are great tools to support your mood!
  • Stretch: move your body in any way that feels good, getting the blood flowing will set your body up for the day

Prioritize Exercise into your day

This is a big one for me- I know that exercising has amazing effects on my mood and my stress level. I need to move my body every single day. I am lucky to have a YMCA membership that comes with 2 hours of free childcare (if you live near a Y you seriously need to check it out, going there has been a life saver for me!) I am going to schedule in my exercise for the week. That means I have to commit ahead of time and build my week around that sacred time. I will also tell Aaron about my plans for working-out so he can help hold me accountable and motivate me. I mean who has ever gone to the gym and said afterwards that they regretted it?! I value physical activity and feel that it is so important to model that to my kids. I can’t keep saying that I am healthy and active without actually making it happen. Here are some cool free ways to get workouts in:

  • Find a gym with childcare: if you are a full time parent like me find a gym that offers free childcare while you workout… the YMCA is the best!
  • Yoga podcasts: I love doing a guided yoga session in my living room- there are tons of free yoga classes at Yoga Download
  • Dancing like a maniac in your living room: seriously just turn on the tunes and rock on for 15-20min, You will sweat.
  • Walk: get outside and take a walk- when in doubt there is always your two feet and the great outdoors.

Ok! Bad habits be gone! Enjoy creating new ones that serve you. Remember every choice is a chance to make a change.

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