balance

Tips for Creating a Healthy Habit

What’s that one thing you’re doing (or not doing) that keeps sabotaging your health goals? For me, it’s not switching off screens early enough in the evening. Regardless of knowing how good it would be for me to make the change, knowledge alone is not enough to alter a behaviour. Making or breaking a habit takes hard work and dedication. Depending who you ask, it can take anywhere between 28 and 200 days of persevering with a behaviour before it becomes automatic. From talking to my clients and my own personal experience, here are my top tips to set you up for success.

Know your evil

Understanding WHY you fail to habitually do something is key to creating change.

Is it an issue of motivation? You may benefit from an accountability structure or a reward system to keep you on track. Is your goal unrealistic? Maybe your goal needs some refinement. Start with a smaller change and once you have that down pat, build on your goal. Are you impatient for results and quitting too soon? Change takes time. Acknowledge that it may take several attempts. Are you just forgetful? Set up a reminder.

These are just a few common examples of a ‘block’ to success. If you have a goal in mind, think about the possible problems you might encounter once you get started and have a plan to tackle them. If you have been trying for months to action your plan without success, spend some time reflecting on the reason for failure. When attempting something new, a troubleshoot plan that accounts for all possible issues that may arise will greatly improve the outcome.

Set a reminder

If your goal is something simple but a nuisance to remember, visual or auditory cues to remind yourself can be useful. This method works well for habits such as taking your supplements at the right time, drinking more water or doing a couple of minutes of mindful breathing throughout the day.

Use that smart phone you carry with you everywhere! Set a daily timed reminder for a time you know you will be undistracted. The feedback I have received from my clients - don’t schedule your reminder for a time you might be busy or you will switch it off and forget all about it!

If auditory prompts won’t work for you, the good old message on your mirror method works almost as well. Or a sticky note on the fridge, toilet door, steering wheel etc. Wherever you know you’ll look is where you leave your message. If you find yourself ignoring your message despite hearing/seeing it, forgetfulness is not the issue at play.

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Adopt an accountability buddy

Having someone on your side who will give you a boost on low days can go a long way. Pick someone who can relate to your circumstance or is supportive of your cause. Someone who you interact with regularly is ideal. Ask this person to do the activity with you, or at a minimum, remind you of your goal. Report your progress to one another.

Depending on your goal, there may also be organised groups out there to help you along. Say your goal is to exercise twice per week - joining a sporting team where teammates rely on your presence is a good example of how you can use accountability as a motivator.

Don’t give up after one attempt

You’ll have days where you fall off the wagon. That is OK. The research suggests that missing one day here and there will not undo the days/weeks prior where you have achieved your daily goal. Even if you fail day 1, remember that most habits take a minimum of 28 days to form. So keep at it.

So what are your health goals for the new year? We’d love to hear about them here at Narayani Wellness.

By Naturopath, Lucy Mason

Finding balance this Christmas

The magical month of December is here once again. I love the festive season. The days are filled with sunshine, social events and delicious food. But December isn’t here without its difficulties. The array of indulgent treats that cannot be avoided present a problem for many of my clients. So I’ve put together my thoughts on how to find balance this Christmas.

Be prepared

Say you have a specific health issue that you are trying to treat with dietary changes, such as leaky gut (no gluten) or candida overgrowth (low/no sugar). The key to getting through the Christmas season is planning ahead. Initiate an honest conversation with dinner hosts/restaurants about your dietary needs in advance or explain that you will be bringing something for yourself. 

Give yourself permission

While we must honour and nurture our physical bodies, we must also nourish our emotional self. Sharing a meal or a drink with friends and family brings joy into our lives. If you have been working on improving your diet, a day of indulging will not undo all that hard work. On these days, you can counter the negative effects of more sugar, fat and alcohol by adding in some additional digestive and liver support.  Letting go of the strict standards we put on ourselves is part of self-love and in itself can be immensely healing.

Support your digestion

Here are my top tips for optimising your body’s processing of dietary “bad guys”:

  • Drink fresh lemon/apple cider vinegar in warm water each morning to give your digestion a boost. It stimulates the vagus nerve, which is largely responsible for digestive secretions. If your tummy struggles with indigestion and reflux at the best of times, you may benefit from taking betaine hydrochloride and digestive enzymes to get you through.
  • Add in a liver support supplement over the Christmas period. St Mary’s Thistle, Globe Artichoke and Turmeric are among my favourite herbs to support bile acid production (breaks down fat), support detoxification and protect the liver against damage.
  • Take a daily probiotic such as Saccharomyces boulardii to help control gut bugs that are prone to growing out of control when we eat and dink more sugar.
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Support your mind

Stress levels can go up this time of year with more work pressures, increased busyness on the road/at the shops and less free time – which is exactly why we all need to prioritise finding time to calm the mind. Checking in with the breath each hour or a 15 minute morning meditation is enough to switch on your parasympathetic nervous system, the part of your nervous system which is responsible for “rest and digest” activities, such as producing stomach acid.

Don’t let guilt ruin Christmas

Perhaps the appeal of the Christmas spread was a little too good and you ate too much, leaving you feeling unwell and disappointed in yourself. What a perfect opportunity to turn that guilt into something positive and practice self-forgiveness. Holding onto negative feelings toward the self only exacerbates health issues. So let those feelings go and replace them with something positive, such as looking forward to the goals you’re going to kick in 2018!

Extra Resources

Looking for recipes that take into consideration your dietary needs? At Narayani Wellness we love online resources by Teressa Cutter “The Healthy Chef”, Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar and Deliciously Ella, Jamie Oliver and Lola Berry also offer some great ideas in their cookbooks.

By Lucy Mason, Naturopath