Even when that wine is Sauvignon blanc from Marlborough, NZ (nectar of the Gods)! I’ve done it. Successfully. But truly the title of this post could be “How to [insert virtuous, healthful action] when all you want to do is [insert vice]”
I think we can all agree that, for the most part, drinking herbal tea is a better health choice than drinking wine. Does simply knowing this stop me from choosing the wine over the tea? No it does not.
However, knowing how to improve my ability to make better choices does help - immensely. And while I’ve applied this recently to the aforementioned nectar, you could apply this same process to any area of health improvement you want to make.
Here are the secrets to making good habits that stick:
Start with a quick win
Find the path of least resistance for yourself to make a change so that you are very likely to be successful.
Look for a small thing that you could do pretty easily first up. For example, if you are trying to reduce your processed sugar intake maybe you could fairly easily forgo the biscuit with the cuppa after dinner. Chances are you’re not hungry and anyhow you well know that a biscuit isn’t at all useful to fill the gap if you are hungry. Do this consciously five times in a row. Take a little moment to say “yay me!” and keep doing it – the action, and the “yay me!”.
This action doesn’t need to be life-changing in itself and actually you’ll ultimately be WAY MORE SUCCESSFUL if it’s not. Why? Because you will start a chain of events, which crucially begins with something you can achieve and feel self-congratulatory about doing well!
Who doesn’t like to high-5 the mirror when we feel a little proud of ourselves?! Doing this makes it much easier to move from strength to strength, building on our successes.
So now you’re starting to leave finger prints on the mirror with a week’s worth of high-5s. What next?! Step two to making good habits that stick:
Close the door on deprivation, think abundance
This is a key mindset shift that we need to make when trying to move on from an unhelpful (and unhealthful!) habit.
Instead of feeling hard done by forcing a hardline ‘give up’ scenario on yourself, think about what you need more of to help you feel great about doing it.
That way we effectively ‘crowd out’ our less desirable choices with the better ones and move from a white-knuckled deprivation state to a calm and joyful state of ease (go again with the high-5s!).
Using my example, rather than just dunking a tea bag in a cup (a 10-second, unthinking action), I use a teapot and cup I really like and fresh herbs from my garden, which I also really like and I know is a significantly better nutrient benefit than irradiated herbs in plastic-filled tea bags (YES – plastic in tea bags!! More on that another time). For me this creates a pleasant, mindful ritual that focuses on things l feel good about. It also means I make more than one cup of tea – so I’ve got that little bit more of my good choice ready to hand, making it easy to do more of it. That's another high-5!
Acorns to Oak Trees
Before you start thinking “but such small changes don’t really make a difference” (how often have you thought this?) let’s follow through from the tea and biscuit example: Now that you don’t have the biscuit with the tea, perhaps you decide that the tea isn’t something you want on it’s own so you stop doing that too. Now you find you no longer wake up in the night to go to the toilet or because your blood sugar’s crashed. Your night's rest is uninterrupted so your sleep quality has improved. You are regularly well-rested and discover that thinking clearly and feeling calm has become your permanent state.
That’s huge! And life-changing. And started from a very doable small change.
Drop me a line about how to turn your acorns into oak trees! With the right support, that suits your life, glowing good health is completely within your grasp.