Most people I talk to about the mental health ideas presented in this blog DO agree with the suggestions (healthy diet, exercise, early to bed, have time with friends, etc). AND they almost always ask the inevitable question: “Yea, but how…?”
This is a valid question.
How do you get yourself to start a new habit? I have some steps that I tend to implement:
- I identify the gap and what new habit do I think will fix it? (Ie: I am not achieving my fitness goals through exercise alone. I think using a personal trainer or altering my diet might help).
- I research it…a lot. I am a factual person. I need to see the numbers, statistics and hear the logical arguments on why other people believe in the habit. This includes watching YouTube videos, reading blogs, research studies and books, and talking to professionals.
- I ponder it…a lot. I need to feel like I fully understand why this change would be beneficial. I want to be able to defend the decision to myself on the days when I “don’t wanna”. I want to be able to defend the decision and hopefully recruit friends to join me.
- I set SMALL Goals. If it were easy to make radical lifestyle changes…we would all do it! I set SMALL goals (and larger goals). I then start taking steps toward the small steps, fully realizing that the habit is likely self-reinforcing and I will often take larger steps than I planned. (example: I want to go to the gym 4x/week. I set a goal of going once a week. I end up going an average of 2.5 times per week for the first month!).
- I reward myself! This includes positive self talk and praise. This includes items that purchase for myself (in the appropriate category). (ie. a new water bottle if I am trying to drink more water or a new journal if I am trying to get more organized).
- Keep with it an allow for the ebb and flow. This means I EXPECT to fail some weeks and I do not beat myself up over it. If I realize I am back sliding, I just go back to one of the lower steps and re-start there.