I've noticed for my clients that the ones who are most able to reach their goals while working with me are able to create and implement daily rituals to give them a strong foundation from which they can stretch themselves to achieve their vision of health for themselves. The biggest reason people achieve their goals is that health becomes habitual. During our time together, my clients and I collaborate so they can create daily routines in support of their wellness and vitality. It is up to the client to implement those routines. Sometimes, clients find this easy and sometimes they find it hard. As I have been on the other side, in the seat of the client, working with my own coach, I know that I find it hard when I am resistant to change. That resistance is a signal that while I want to change, I am not ready to change. From that place of resistance, I can sit back and wonder about why I am resisting change, what fears are arising for me, and what's at risk if I make the change versus embracing the status quo. I really appreciate the frame my coach uses for creating daily habits in support of myself. She says that it's not about discipline so much as it is about devotion, and being devoted to loving yourself and taking exquisite care of yourself.
There are numerous studies which show that creating healthy habits leads to positive health outcomes. A groundbreaking study published in late 2015 examined clinical trials for pharmaceutical drugs that included a behavioral component, such as nutritional counseling, to determine the efficacy of behavioral interventions versus chemical ones. "More than 80 percent of the randomized clinical trials that included a behavioral intervention reported a significant improvement for the targeted behavior and a significant physiological impact such a reduction in weight or blood pressure. Greater improvements were observed when the intervention simultaneously targeted two behaviors, such as nutrition and physical activity, which are considered lifestyle behaviors." (Source).
I have a group of daily habits I employ to take care of myself, to ward off developing another autoimmune disease, and to boost my mental health. These include starting my day with oil pulling, a long walk with our dog, and drinking a large mug of warm lemon water. If you've spent any time on my website or Instagram feed, you know my husband, Brian, and I took up camping this year. One of the biggest concerns I had about camping was whether I would be able to maintain my morning routine. Yet, at the campsite, just as at home, I went for my morning walk and drank my lemon water because they are so engrained as part of my daily routine. I would have felt out of sync not to do these things. In fact, whenever I miss my morning walk, I notice that I don't roll with life as easily, I am quicker to become cranky or sad, and I just feel meh.
It is my passion to help people create rituals that help them nourish their bodies and minds and get their spark back. With that, I offer the following tips to help you do just that.
Tips for Creating a Wellness Routine that Lasts:
- Think about the big picture. What is your overall goal? For me, more than anything else, I am terrified that I will develop another autoimmune disease. The factors that would lead to that are stress, lack of sleep, poor immune function, etc. So what do I need to do to ensure that I don't fall into the trap of stress, poor sleep, etc? For you, from the big picture, think of five easy things you can do in service of your goal.
- Start small. Add one new habit at a time, and only focus on that habit until it is part of your lifestyle. A study published in the British Journal of General Practice found that patients most often implement lifestyle advice from their physicians when it is easy to understand and easy to implement.
- To create this new habit successfully, do it right after something you already do, says behavioral psychologist B.J. Fogg of Stanford. For me, I added oil pulling right after I went to the bathroom first thing in the morning. Let's face it, all of us go to the bathroom when we get up in the morning so adding a short activity right after this is pretty easy.
- Incorporate one habit at a time. Once one habit is engrained, and that can take up to 40 days or 40 times doing it, then add the next one.
- Check in with yourself about the habit. Does it feel in alignment with your health goal? If it doesn't, let that habit go to create space for one that fits what you need.
- When resistance arises, get curious. Hmm, why am I resistant to this change?
- Get support. Yes, this is my job, and as both a client and a coach I can tell you that having support as you are making changes is valuable. Not only is someone there to help you focus on what activities will be most helpful as you create the healthy lifestyle you want, they also can hold you accountable for creating those changes. They are there to cheer you on and celebrate with you as you hit your goals. Hooray! They also can help you explore resistance when it arises.