HOW TO DEVELOP A RITUAL TO SUPPORT AND NURTURE THE WELLBEING OF YOUR BODY.
When it comes to our body’s wellness there are usually two extremes: people who know they should be doing something but don’t really want to – and those who make wellness an integral part of everyday life. The majority of us sit somewhere in the middle.
For most of us, the biggest secret to transforming wellness into a healthy habit, and even better, into a ritual, is motivation. We need to practice self-care not because we have to, but because we want to.
Research has shown that when it comes to establishing a habit for the long haul, there are some key factors that will influence your motivation and transform you into a self-care superhero.
- Take control by actively managing your calendar and creating a time to practice your wellness rituals, either in the form of exercise or preparing healthy meals. Frequency is paramount. You are much more likely to stick with your ritual if you stay within your capabilities and keep practicing with consistency. Getting into the habit is the most important thing!
- Choose activities that make you feel good. Align yourself with your body habits and with your goals. When it comes to developing a habit, success relates to how confident you feel in your ability to achieve your goals. If you feel something is outside your capacity – or just isn’t you – you are likely to feel demoralized and give up at the first hurdle.
- Set yourself up for success and develop a mindset focused on your immediate progress. You can do this by celebrating the small daily wins. Focus on the gains that occur as soon as you practice your wellness habit: increased energy levels, feeling less stressed, improved quality of sleep, weight loss, and the endorphin buzz you experience after a workout.
- Be proactive by learning the different ways you can train your brain to deal differently with stress and how to use stress to obtain your health goals. This might require you to use your willpower muscles and practice integrating a growth mindset into your life. I call this transforming stress into your superpowers. Most people think that superhuman qualities are qualities that exceed those found in humans or exceptional skills that someone like superman is born with. However, genetics is only one part of the picture. It is important to understand that your genetic profile works in synchrony with your goals, your lifestyle and your environment – the whole picture. The first step to developing your superpowers is to become aware of how stress limits your willpower.
- List your ONE thing. In the morning, or even better the night before, look at your “to do’s” for the next day, pull out your most important task for the day and try to make it at least once a week related to your health priorities.
- Commit to the first step. Think about the first thing you have to do to achieve your health goal. With working out, commit to putting on your workout clothes, shoes and filling up your water bottle. With healthy eating, commit to prep your meals in advance or at least plan them, make smoothie bags and freeze them for faster breakfast.
- Follow through. Set yourself on a path to be consistent. Look at your calendar and schedule your health goal like you would for a work project. Slowly build from 30 minutes a day dedicated to your goal to an hour by day 7, 1.5 hours a day on day 14, and so on. It is easy to make excuses, which is why having a “ritual mindset” comes in handy.
DEVELOPING A FITNESS HABIT
For example, you might choose to develop a ritual with the goal of increasing your walking. When it comes to walking every step counts so here are some ideas to make a ritual out of your walking routine and increase your step count (almost) without knowing it:
- Walk to work or walk one way to your destination and take a bus or a cab home.
- Make your next coffee date close to a park, and walk with your drinks. As a bonus, you’ll get fresh air!
- Park your car a few blocks or parking garages away from your workplace.
- Get off one stop earlier on the bus or subway.
- Choose one meal a day and walk for 10 minutes after it. As a bonus, walking after eating regulates blood sugar and helps weight loss.
- Organize a walking or hiking group. As a bonus: you’ll spend time with friends!
- Choose a favorite song and count how many steps it takes to walk the duration of that song. It almost feels like dancing!
- Go sightseeing in your home town with your beloved once a week.
- Walk your dog. You’ll have a happy and healthy dog!
- Try walking meditation instead of sitting to clear your mind.
- Sip your morning coffee or tea while walking. As a bonus, this habit helps regulate your circadian rhythm.
- Start a walking challenge at work. You’ll get to know your colleagues and support each other.
DEVELOPING A NUTRITION HABIT
Alternatively, you might want to develop a ritual to make healthy nutrition a priority. If you feel stuck and have no idea how to get back on track with your nutrition goals, you’re not alone. Rationally, you know you need to get back on track, but it feels too overwhelming or that “everything else” is getting in the way. Shifting your mindset may just take some soul searching mixed with a little strategy to get you back on track.
Here are some suggestions for getting unstuck and making nutrition a priority.
- Let go of your negative beliefs. Separate any negative unhealthy behaviors from “I am” statements that define you. You are not lazy, unmotivated, stuck, or fat. Maybe your actions are resulting in you feeling this way, and it is important to make a mindset shift to separate your actions and feelings from your identity. So start saying: “I feel stuck, I feel lazy, I feel unmotivated.” Then try to understand what is triggering those feelings and what you can do to change those feelings. Start with “I feel unmotivated or stuck because … “ and see what comes up for you — you absolutely have the power to change your beliefs.
- Create space. Give yourself space for soul searching. Maybe that’s going on a walk to clear your head enough to ask yourself questions about where you are on your health journey. You can journal your reflections on paper without judgment or overthinking. Science shows that free-writing can be a powerful tool to access your intuition and your own wisdom. You just need to create enough space to ask the right questions.
- Find your meaning. Why do you want your ritual to be about nutrition? Is it because you want to live a long and healthy life? Or is it because you want to prevent diseases that could be influenced by lifestyle factors like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, and depression. Maybe it is more related to self-confidence and how you want to look. Whatever your meaning, when you know the reason why you want to make a change, write it down to remind yourself of your motivation.
- Block time. This is a great strategy to develop a ritual. Plan your week on a Sunday to determine when, where and how you can get to the grocery store and prepare your meals. Developing a ritual around your health goals builds a momentum to help your habits stick.
- Create your tribe. From social media challenges and healthy living groups, apps, and group fitness classes, to hiring a nutrition coach or a personal trainer— find your way to create your “accountability system” around your health goals and stay committed until your habit becomes an integral part of your life.
Now you are ready! Choose a habit, add your meaning to it and here you go… you have a ritual! Start practicing it: begin with a small ritual, celebrate your progress and I promise you that in no time at all, you will be a wellbeing superhero, not because you know you should, but because you can’t imagine life without it.
Remember whatever your journey is, you have the power to harness your stress into health, growth, and happiness.
Take care, my friend!