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Are you one of those people who hit snooze seven times, finally drag yourself out of bed five minutes before you have to leave, and drive to work while inhaling a store-bought muffin?
Yeah, we’ve all been there. It’s not the most optimal way to kick-start your day.
So you decide to change this. You will wake up at six o’clock, go for a five-mile run, lift some weights, cook up a magazine-worthy spread for breakfast, and then get all dolled up for work. And get to work on time!
I’m telling you, unless you are Wonder Woman, it’s not gonna work out.
And that’s not your fault! For some people it works to quit cold turkey (that’s a really weird expression, guys) or completely change their lifestyle, and that’s awesome! But for most of us you have to take it step by step, and above all, make it easy.
Of course you can build habits for any part of the day, but all days are different. The morning always starts the same; with you lying in bed. That’s why I think the morning is an excellent time to practice building habits and what I will use for these examples!
Here’s how you do it:
1. Decide which habit to start with
Writing in your journal, doing yoga, or making a smoothie instead of just bolting out the door with a cheese stick in your bag; pick one. I know you’re excited to transform your life (and you want to get there now), but trust me! Pick one. And make sure that you make it easy to answer the question, “Did I do this today?”
You’re not doing “some yoga” before breakfast; you’re doing yoga for five minutes.
You're not "making breakfast"; you're making a banana pineapple smoothie.
You're not "doing some exercise"; you're doing ten pull-ups on your pull-up bar on your way to the bathroom.
Photo by Lena Bell
2. Make it easy to do
Take some time tomorrow and pinpoint exactly what thoughts are keeping you from actually fulfilling your good intentions. You need to make every excuse invalid!
Too grumpy to write in your gratitude journal? It’s right there on your nightstand. You don’t even have to leave the bed.
Too tired and stiff to do your morning yoga sequence? Your yoga mat is already laid out with a timer on the floor where you can’t miss it.
Don’t have the energy to cook breakfast? You have the recipe on the counter with all the tools ready to go.
3. Make yourself accountable
It's a reason buddy-systems are so popular; you're more likely to disappoint yourself than a friend.
Think about it; if you agreed to go for a morning walk with someone, would you just press snooze and keep sleeping? Of course not! Your poor friend would be standing there, alone, in the rain (no, freezing snow!), with a wolf howling in the distance, and zombies getting closer and closer . . .
Over-dramatization aside, you get the picture. Once I did a "50 squats a day" challenge on Facebook, and we all posted "Done!" every day. Going public with your intentions is great, because you'll try harder just to not lose face!
If you need a little electronic helper, I recommend the free app HabitBull. It has some great qualities:
This app has helped me to remember to stretch my neck and forearms (a very important habit for someone who has a desk job) every day for almost twenty days in a row now. If you need an added reminder, set labeled alarms so you get an extra push!
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Bonus: Slowly add habits
Once your new habit is second nature for you, add a second one into the mix. Decide what order makes more sense, and repeat step two and three!
Since I walk the dogs before breakfast, and I sometimes keep lying in bed since it’s warm and cozy, and outside is cold and require pants (this was written in March), I decided to write in my gratitude journal first. Now, all I have to do is pad over to my papasan chair and spend a few minutes snuggled up with a blanket while the dog is trying to fit next to me (read: on me). Going outside is nothing I have to worry about right then.
By doing this, I now leave the bed as soon as I wake up and after filling out the daily prompts I feel pretty excited about my day, and suddenly a walk sounds like a really good idea. See how I trick myself? You need to summon the slyness of a fox, my dear.
Photo by Christal Yuen
And that's it!
So get out there and build new habits! I recommend starting with a gratitude journal, like the one-minute gratitude journal, since it's super easy and actually rewires your brain to feel happiness! (I know I say this a lot, but it is so awesome!!)
If you don't want to buy one (cause, you know, money), I created a free gratitude journal template for you!
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Hi, I'm Erika!
I know what it's like living with anxiety and depression, but living and living are very different things. I believe in practical tips and methods, and I will use them to help you be the brave, daring, darling individual you are.
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