Sometimes the hardest part of making a positive shift is knowing where to start. It can be overwhelming when there are a number of changes to make or even when there is one big one. If you want to adopt healthy habits that will last, then the easiest way to do it is by making small, gradual changes. Don’t expect too much from yourself too soon, it does take some time for new behaviours to become habits.
Intention: Firstly, figure out what you’re trying to achieve and set your intention clearly. If your goal is to lose weight, then know how much and by when. If your goal is to have more energy or reduce the symptoms of a condition, make sure you have clear markers of success.
Plan: Break your goal down into smaller chunks and allow realistic timeframes to reach them. Start with small actions that you can accomplish each week or even day, and once they are part of your routine, you can start looking ahead to the next milestone.
Eat: If you don’t have a specific goal but are looking to improve your overall health, take a look at your diet. Opportunities for improvement may include reducing sugar intake, cooking at home more often, increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables and so on.
Drink: An easy change is to make sure you’re getting enough water. If you’re dehydrated you may feel tired, sluggish, hungry, unable to concentrate, headachy, constipated, and even depressed. If in doubt, have a glass of water. It’ll help your skin and muscles too.
Move: Exercise has a huge effect on mood, energy and self-esteem. Start with one regular activity per week and increase slowly. Find something that you enjoy such as a long walk, a dance class, hula hooping, cycling, yoga or a martial art, and just keep doing it.
Rest: Possibly the single most important thing you can do is make sure you’re getting enough rest. Sleep heals the body and mind, regulates mood, and helps consolidate learning and form memories. Inadequate sleep can affect mood, immune system, memory, and stress levels.
Lastly, it’s important to be patient, recognise your accomplishments and reward yourself appropriately. Striving for progress instead of perfection is kinder on yourself and more likely to result in successful changes. With each small success you’ll find that the larger goals seem closer and more achievable. A year from now you’ll be able to look back on a whole bunch of minor changes that have added up to a huge positive shift in your health, and won’t that be wonderful!