The process of making change can be challenging, this is why my job exists! It is common to be very hard on ourselves when we are trying to do things differently, and it doesn't go quite according to plan. Wouldn't it be great to find a way of making gentle healthy change, without all that stress?
There is nothing quite like a global pandemic to highlight how precious health really is in all its forms. As we move towards the next phase, whatever that looks like, I offer an invitation. I invite you to take a few minutes – whatever you can find between working, caring for / educating / trying to hide from kids, and whatever other demands you have upon your time. What I am suggesting as food for thought in these moments is to consider what it is that you really want. What could you do, the next time you have a few minutes, to truly nourish yourself? What step could you take that would move you a little closer to a new and improved version of your life?
My point is that resolutions and forward movement are not just for January. They do not need to be on a grand scale, or a long list. Neither do they need to involve self-punishment, or an ‘all or nothing’ attitude. They also do not need to be limited to the short term. The ‘deny myself (insert favourite indulgence) for a month’, or ‘start that unappealing exercise regime’ family of strategies so often land us very quickly in a pile of self-loathing, and back at square one. Sometimes we feel even worse off than we were before we started. What I am offering is an alternative approach. A kinder way to build sustainable long term healthy habits.
There are two basic questions:
- What comes to mind as a goal to work towards that would really improve things for you?
- What might an initial small, experimental step to get you moving in that direction look like?
Just to give you an idea, here are a few examples:
- A regular exercise regime that you can stick to.
- Try out a few different forms of exercise to see what grabs you (like the multitudes of 10-minute options available on YouTube)
- Organise the space / time / clothes – or whatever else is getting in the way of starting to explore.
- Spend less time sitting.
- Set a reminder for once an hour to get up and move.
- Go for a 15 minute walk once a day.
- Play a physical game with the kids at least once a week.
- To regularly fit in a few moments of relaxation.
- Make a list of activities that soothe you to stick on the fridge, with the intention of finding at least 5 minutes for something off that list once a week, once a day…whatever makes sense for you.
- Pay attention to how you spend your time for a few days to identify where you can carve out a few minutes for yourself.
- Find a way to remain calmer when your children are pushing you to your limits.
- Try and notice what specific situations trigger reactions in you that you would rather avoid.
- Put family photos up in prominent positions that remind you of the kind of parent you want to be.
These are purely to demonstrate the process, and are not intended to direct your thinking in any specific direction about your own goals. What is important is that your answers to both questions are meaningful and actionable for you. If you are unsure where to begin, take my super-speedy quiz to help you narrow it down. If more food for thought would be useful, sign up to my mailing list.
A final piece to this invitation is to be gentle. We are all coping with a lot. If an experiment doesn’t go quite according to plan, think of it as learning rather than failure. How could you adapt it, put something in place to support it, or just swap it for a new one, based on what you now know? Also, watch out for the positive consequences of your small steps, for yourself and others around you. Celebrate them when you see them.
If you do decide that now is the time to make some positive changes, I am sending you all the good vibes. Any little thing you can do to take care of you makes the world that little bit better.