Are you enthusiastic about cultivating healthy habits at first, only to find that your eagerness wanes over time? One of the class themes in my upcoming 7 Weeks of Wellness ‘Live+Virtual’ yoga course is how our yoga practice can help us to transform our habits, or Samskaras–challenging the ones that aren’t serving us, and cultivating healthier ones in their place. BJ Fogg, a Stanford psychologist who I quoted in a previous blog post about New Year’s resolutions, says the best way to cultivate healthy habits that last is to design them into your life. With that in mind, here are a few tips on how to do just that:
Step #1: Take a bite-sized approach
Setting goals that are too big often leads to failure. Say you set a goal of practicing yoga once a week with the expectation of doing a 60 or 75-minute practice. You might end up feeling like a failure if you can’t squeeze in that long of a practice. That feeling of failure may cause you to just give up because you don’t like feeling that way. Instead, how about starting small, committing to a bite-sized 15 minute yoga practice? If 15 minutes is feeling great and you want to do more after that–go for it! Students in my ‘Live+Virtual’ courses love having the options of a weekly 30-minute Zoom class (or doing the recording afterwards), a full 60-75 minute audio practice, or both, depending on how much time they have for yoga each week.
Step #2: Create systems for success
One of the best ways to create a healthy habit is to make it easy to do by creating systems for success. If you want to begin your day with yoga, for example, why not roll your yoga mat out right next to your bed? If you’re try to establish a daily self-care routine, leave yourself sticky notes around your house reminding you to check in with yourself about what you need. If you want to eat healthier, have those healthy ingredients on hand when it’s time for dinner to increase the chances that you’ll put a wholesome meal on the table. I personally created a system for success around my daily meditation practice when I was having a hard time fitting it into my schedule at one point: I decided to do it first thing in the morning right when I wake up.
Step #3: Schedule it–daily
We all know that repeating something over and over turns it into a habit. It turns out that daily repetition is key. This is one of the reasons I created seven videos in my 15-Minute Yoga course: there’s one for each day of the week. You don’t have to think about what kind of yoga routine to do when you get on your mat; you can just hit play on that day of the week’s video. And to make sure it happens every day, schedule it right into your planner. After all, your self-care is just as important as everything else on your calendar. One nice thing about technology: it will even send you a reminder. (Oh, and if you miss a day, show yourself some compassion and just start again the next day.)
Step #4: Celebrate the small wins
Because of our built-in negativity bias, we tend to dwell on our failures instead of our successes. However, it’s the sense of accomplishment we get from doing something that inspires us to turn it into a habit. That is why at the end of almost all of my yoga classes I encourage students to thank themselves for making the time to do something good for themselves. It’s not just empty woo-woo fluff. Acknowledging the time you took and the effort you put forth makes you feel good. If you don’t typically take the time to celebrate your small wins like this throughout the day, give it a try. I think you will notice that it helps you cultivate healthy habits that last.
If you’re ready to cultivate healthy habits that last and could use a little support:
- I invite you to register for my upcoming 7 Weeks of Wellness ‘Live+Virtual’ yoga course. Enjoy a different wellness-themed yoga practice each week sent right to your inbox: improve digestion; keep bones + joints strong; stave off Seasonal Affective Disorder; enhance your immunity; take time for relaxation; and so much more. Partner with me to create healthier habits. Register by 10/28 to save $10!
- Or start small with my 15-Minute Yoga video course that includes seven 15-minute videos–one for each day of the week.
- For more self-care guidance, my Stop Sabotaging Your Self-Care course is the accountability partner you need to power through obstacles and overcome beliefs that hold you back from creating the life you want and deserve.