Do you wake up the first day of January energized to make a New Year’s resolution that will drastically improve your life? In our enthusiasm for self-improvement, we often overcommit to numerous changes all at once and find that we fall short of the unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves. Instead, in 2017, start the New Year with a plan to add one new healthy habit to your daily schedule.
How long will it take for this new activity to become a habit? Phillippa Lally, a health psychologist researcher at University College London, conducted a study to answer that question. She found that it can take anywhere from 2 to 8 months for people to form a new habit, not the 21 days that is often quoted. This finding stresses the importance of setting appropriate expectations! Don’t get frustrated if the behavior does not stick after only a couple of weeks — it should take longer than that.
One important note: don’t expect perfection! Ms. Lally’s research found that missing a day or two along the way has no measurable impact on long-term success. Simply give yourself permission to make a mistake, and develop a strategy to get back on track.
Remember that it really doesn’t matter how long it takes for the behavior to become a habit! The only way to reach your goal is to make that start, and move forward one day at a time.
To help you get started, we asked the instructors at Yoga Elements to share a daily habit that has contributed to their health and well-being during the year. Hopefully you will be inspired to pick one and work it into your schedule each day.
Daisy Boehm: I make a fruit and vegetable smoothie for breakfast each morning. My favorite recipe is almond milk, strawberry kefir, chia seeds, spinach, fresh banana, avocado and frozen strawberries. Adding the smoothie to my daily routine has helped drop my cholesterol, starts my day with good nutrition, and provides energy to sustain me until lunch.
Becca Girard: I gave up soda about six months ago and have a water bottle with me constantly. I feel healthier and more refreshed drinking water instead of soda!
Jan Marnocha: Each morning, I set the intention to be mindful throughout the day. I remind myself of this intention as often as I can, and place reminders (such as sticky notes or stickers) around my home or workplace so I see them frequently.
Arielle Turriff: I have a positivity journal where I write down one positive thing about each day.
Sally Bowers: When I am getting ready for work, blow drying my hair or picking up the house, I do lunges, squats, and twists. This helps me maintain flexibility and also causes some giggles if I get caught!
Kelly Ellington: I do as much grocery shopping as I can from the farmer’s market, and cook things from scratch as much as possible.
Jane Hermans: My morning begins with a mug of hot water and lemon and I always order water and lemon to accompany my meal when I go out to dinner.
Jim Crane: I make a point to stay hydrated even before I start getting thirsty. After studying David Wolff’s website — www.thebestdayever.com — I started making my own herbal and mushroom tea. I set up two slow cookers in the kitchen, one with herbs and one with mushrooms. I bought a couple of thermoses to keep my tea hot all day.
Janet Planet: Every morning before drinking or eating anything, I take one tablespoon of organic/virgin coconut oil and swish it around in my mouth, “pulling” it between my teeth and gums for 15-20 minutes, then rinsing my mouth with warm water. Oil pulling is a great preventive measure. (More information available in Dr. Bruce Fife’s book, “Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing.”)
Kathy Davis: First thing each morning, I get on the floor and go through a routine of stretches and abdominal exercises, followed by a two-minute plank. Waking up and moving every muscle removes any stiffness that develops overnight, and energizes me to start the day.
Crystal Hill: I make sleep and rest a priority. With enough sleep, I look better, feel better and have more energy. Adequate sleep has also been shown to increase the duration of your life!
Remember that you don’t have to wait until the first day of a new year to adopt a positive habit. Each day is an opportunity to start the journey to a healthier and happier you!