Our guest blogger Chloe is helping you create long lasting wellness habits during the pandemic. Chloe is a British yoga & mindfulness teacher who also works as a freelance corporate event manager. She teaches time-poor women how to build an easy-to-stick-to habit of yoga & mindfulness so they can find balance, be present with their loved ones and show up as the best possible version of themselves for this crazy ride called life.
Are your wellness habits all over the place during the pandemic?
Finding and sticking to a routine can be hard enough at the best of times, but coupled with a global pandemic sending our collective anxiety levels through the roof, messing up what semblance of a routine we had before and confining us to the four walls of our homes and it can seem near impossible to come up with something consistent and nourishing that doesn’t lose steam after a week.
If you had grand plans to shake up your eating habits, get your bikini body sorted once and for all and finally clear out THAT cupboard of junk during self-isolation then you’re not alone. You’re also not alone if all of that initial energy and motivation has wavered as time has gone on, in favor of Netflix binges, too much booze and take-away comfort food.
So how do you drag yourself out of your pajamas, off the sofa and back into a wellness-focused mindset when life seems a bit heavy and you’re struggling to see the point anymore?
Here’s a 4-step roadmap for get back into it, and more importantly, for making it last.
Identify what’s working and what isn’t
All of it you might say. And fair enough. However, there are probably things that are working, if you just look a little harder. What small things do you manage to do each day which make you feel good? It can be as small as making your bed, or your regular cup of coffee in the morning, to something much bigger, like a weekly yoga practice or HIIT session. Maybe you’re enjoying a good book right now or spending more time with your pet. All of these things make up a good wellness routine.
Write a list of everything that you’re managing to do which leaves you feeling good, productive, energised or calm. Now take a look at the things which aren’t working. Are you going to bed or waking up at different times each day? Are you doing a regular shop of whole and healthy foods or ordering junk food on the fly? Are you spending hours scrolling through the news or social media despairing at state of the world and wondering why everyone else seems to have their sh*t together when you don’t?
Write down everything which isn’t working for you right now, so you can clearly identify where you need to make a change.
Now you can start to focus on prioritising more of the things that make you feel good, over the things that don’t!
Set achievable goals
OK so this might sound obvious, but if you looked at your list of things above and suddenly got overwhelmed by how much you need to change and started telling yourself that you need to meditate every day for an hour and exercise 5 times a week then you’re setting yourself up to fail.
The key to making wellness a habit, rather than a chore on your to-do list is to start with something which requires as little effort as possible, and slowly build from there.
The biggest mistake we make when resetting our wellness routines is going too big and too fast out of the blocks. We give ourselves too much to do and before we know it, we’ve hit a wall and it all comes crashing to a halt after a month.
Instead, focus on small achievable goals that are so small and easy that they don’t even really seem like they should be called ‘goals’. For example, if you’re not even making your bed in the morning, start here. Promise yourself you’ll make your bed every morning this week and just stick to that. If you’re only practicing yoga once a week, try to fit in two sessions instead, even if they’re just for 15 mins each. If you’re not meditating yet, but want to start, give yourself 3 mins three times this week as your starting point.
I can’t stress this enough; this is the key to staying consistent.
“Habits are activities which don’t require brainpower or effort to complete.”
So, make your goals be as effortless as possible, building slowly after a week or two weeks of consistency, over and over. It’s not the fast way to succeed, but its much more likely to become a lasting habit this way.
Time and motivation are the number one reasons we give for struggling to stay on top of our well being, but really these are just excuses. If you have time to watch Netflix or scroll on social media, or even read this article, then you have time to meditate or stretch today…you’re just procrastinating. Usually we procrastinate for one of 5 reasons:
- It’s too hard i.e. we’re not good at it so it’s an effort to complete the task
- It’s boring i.e. we don’t feel stimulated by the task
- It’s annoying i.e having to do the task irritates us and leaves us feeling cranky
- It’s unstructured i.e. we don’t know the steps we need to take in order to complete the task
- It’s ambiguous i.e. we’re not sure of the outcome or why we’re doing it
If you find yourself putting off something, try to work out which one (or more) of these that task fits in to. If you’re saying it’s because you don’t have time, maybe it’s actually because you’re a beginner and so it’s hard and takes a lot of effort, but you’re telling yourself you don’t have time because that’s easier to handle and gets you off the hook.
Once you’ve got to the root of the WHY (reminder: it’s one of the 5 reasons above…just delve a little deeper), then you can start to put steps in place to make it NOT one of those things. For example, if you’re a beginner yogi and you’re putting it off because you find it difficult, then make it easier by signing up for a gentle beginner’s class, or specific beginner’s course.
If it’s unstructured, work out some small steps to become more familiar with the practice, or seek out a coach or teacher to help you.
Next, set yourself a clear weekly schedule where you block out time in your day (same time each day / week) to focus on your goal. Stick to it like you would any other important meeting or appointment and celebrate when you complete something in your calendar!
Make it last
In order to make your new routine last you really need to know WHY you want to make the change, and why you want it to continue.
Do you want to prioritize your well being because you want to look good? Or feel good? Or calm your anxiety? These are all valid reasons, but you can probably go deeper: how will achieving those outcomes make you feel? How will that help you in other areas of your life? Who else will it affect if you can achieve your goals to find balance and happiness?
Maybe if you had less anxiety, you’d be able to leave your job and start a new career doing something you love? Maybe if you get fitter you can feel more confident running and playing with your kids? Maybe if you lost weight and felt good about yourself, you’d feel more confident to make better connections and relationships with others? Maybe you’d be able to show up in other areas of your life with more presence; notice more joy around you and be more inspired, creative and productive? What would that lead to?
Once you have your vision and your WHY clear in your mind, write it down. Stick it on your fridge or the bathroom mirror, make it your phone background and the name of your alarm.
Every time you ask yourself “what’s the point?” remind yourself of your why.
Finally, while it’s true that we need to be gentle with ourselves right now, we also are all in fight or flight mode. This means that our cortisol levels are high, and our body is focused on the stress or the perceived danger, and not focused on digesting, eliminating toxins and generally functioning well. By prioritising practices which calm us, like yoga, mindfulness and meditation, we can overcome the fight or flight response and our bodies will function better, we’ll crave less comfort food and have more energy to go about our day. So next time you tell yourself you don’t ‘need’ to practice yoga because you’re being gentle on yourself and you don’t feel like it right now, remember that yoga is actually better for you than watching Netflix. Remind yourself that you’re worth it.
For more support with making wellness an effortless daily habit join Chloe’s Facebook group; Practical Yoga & Mindfulness for Busy Women (www.facebook.com/groups/yogaforbusypeople)