We can all be guilty of trying to change everything in one go… you know those times when you decided to become a morning person and wake at 4.30am, do the meditation, gratitude, exercise gym session, green smoothie and connect with your higher power – all before the kids wake up! How did it go for you? Me… not so good.
I am totally in favour of all the above mentioned activities but realistically we need to make small changes and integrate them into our daily routines before we add more things to the list.
Sustainable self-care requires a gradual approach to new practices, it is ok to try something out for size and establish if it fits into your way of life and routine. If not, it is totally ok to move on and try something else.
The key is that we are aware of our need for ongoing self-care practices and we are committed to integrating the ones that work for us into our daily life in a sustainable way.
Committing to a habit is easy…. If you choose the right habit for you.
So how do we make self-care a daily habit? Well that depends on you but there are some key factors that will assist you in choosing and creating habits that you can and will stick to.
Firstly it is vital that you identify why you are seeking to make a change, before you even try to figure out what the change should be.
Take that new morning routine for example. Did you start it to become more productive, to feel more energized, to start living a wholesome lifestyle, because you wanted to demonstrate your ability to commit, because the latest insta post said it was the way to go…
To be honest it may be a bit of all of these but that is not a clear baseline for committing to a change. Try to narrow down the one key gain you are seeking to achieve and be kind to yourself as you decide this. Feeling better about myself is a far kinder goal than showing I’m not a quitter!
Once you have a goal based in self-compassion, then you can seek to find the action that will move you towards that goal and begin to create it into a daily habit.
Remember your goal, in this case you feeling better about yourself, is not solely dependent on this one action, it is part of a bigger picture. But committing to this action and forming it into a sustainable habit will be a step in the right direction.
We succeed at habits better when we choose things that are attractive, easy and satisfying. So instead of giving yourself the impossible task keep it simple and start one habit, one day at a time.
Find something that there is some evidence will be effective in moving you towards your goal – make sure it is something you want to do, and that you can actually do regularly.
Then use your environment to support you in regularly repeating the action to form a habit. Make it accessible and obvious – try habit stacking it with an existing routine. After brushing my teeth I will recite 3 things I’m grateful for. Put a note on the bathroom mirror to remind you of your commitment and reward yourself with some positive acknowledgement for simply remembering to think about the task each morning. A quick Hi5 to yourself in the mirror or a simple smile at yourself might be the immediate reward your mind needs to get a positive association between the habit and feeling better about yourself.
And then repeat, every day, every single day. And if you miss a day, start again tomorrow. No judgement, no harsh self-criticism just don’t miss twice!
When you notice your action has become second nature, every morning you think of things you are grateful for when you brush your teeth or look in the mirror, then move onto the next new action as you have created a sustainable habit that works for you.
The secret is consistency, small actions done regularly can make huge changes. You have probably heard the phrase from small things big things grow, well when it comes to sustainable self-care practices this is very much the truth.
Begin today, with one thing that you want to do to move you closer towards the goal you have clearly prioritized, make sure it is a small thing, done in 2 minutes or less and link it to your existing routines and then just keep doing it.
I know you can do that, you know you can do that.
Don’t overcomplicate this, just start. And if you still don’t know where to begin use the gratitude after brushing your teeth as a starter.
We can all benefit from a bit more gratitude.