How to make habits stick

How to make habits stick

I’ve had a great questions come through from Peter on the ‘Ask Sara‘ function (join my newsletter and you can hop onto the Ask Sara button and ask me anything you like!!) about habits, which is perfect for this time of year.

Peter describes how he wants to start running more but is struggling to make his new habit and routine stick, especially with these dark cold and often wet mornings!

I hear you Peter!  Infact I have signed up to the Edinburgh Half Marathon in May but a virus has kept me from going out for a run, so today I’m off for a power walk instead 💪🏼 🙌🏼

So how do you make your habits stick?

Let’s start by looking at habits and behaviours. If you were to review your life you’d find that you have created plenty of habits over your life time! Everything from brushing and flossing your teeth, to making your morning drink, to the way you shower yourself ! Anything which you do on a consistent basis which you don’t need to think about at a conscious level is a habit.

Why is it that when it comes to creating new habits such as drinking more water each day, going for a run 🏃‍♂️ on a regular basis, morning yoga or meditation, going to bed earlier, listening to or reading some daily inspirational content, journaling, skin brushing, oil pulling….(I did this for a number of weeks! 🤢) that we struggle to make these activities habitual?

Here are some ways to create long lasting habits!

1. Start small and make it easy!

More often than not we start too big! We decide we are going to do 20 minutes on the spin bike every day of the working week! Or we are going to meditate for 30 minutes every morning!

This takes a fair amount of mental and physical energy! And our lazy lizard brain isn’t set up for those kind of changes!

Instead the lizard brain is doing what it’s always done, what we have programmed it to do. So when we attempt to step away from those programmes, the mind is quick to come up with LOTS of reasons to sabotage our attempts and take us back to the original programme.

For example….

  • It looks too cold and wet outside, I’ll go for a run tomorrow instead
  • I’ve really got a lot to get through today, I should make a start on my day, I’ll go for a run tomorrow
  • I’m tired, I’ll give myself an extra 10 minutes in bed and meditate later (which never happens!)
  • I’m feeling a bit run down, I’ll start my diet tomorrow
  • I’ve had a long day, I’ll just have one glass of wine
  • I’ll just stay up and watch one more episode and then I’ll go to bed

We are pretty sure you resonate with these and have plenty of your own!

Instead you have to make it EASY so that there’s no resistance. Start small such as meditate for 1 minute. Run for 5 minutes. Put a glass of water on your desk and drink one glass (rather than a 2 litre bottle for example). Go to bed 15 minutes earlier.

What ever new habit you want to create – how can you make it easy?

2. Where can you utilise the time you have to develop your habits?

Think about the things that you already do and where can you utilise the time to weave in your new habits? This can work well in many cases rather than trying to create time in your day. For example, can you use your daily commute to work or when you are walking your dig to listen to a podcast?

While you are waiting for the kettle to boil can you say your affirmations (have them stuck next to the kettle on a piece of paper!)?

When you are brushing your teeth can you practice some mindfulness? Can you do some yoga stretches on your lunch break?

3. Find what works for you

Some people are natural early risers, while some people are night owls. When it comes to creating habits that stick, find what works for you time wise.

If you really aren’t a morning person, then getting out of bed at 6am to meditate is going to be tough and create conflict in the mind and you’ll find reasons to stop!

Where do you have more energy in your day? What’s going to align with your natural routine?

4. Tie your new habits into a goal or a community

Sometimes we all need a wing buddy to keep us going, so joining a group can be super helpful in making your habits stick. Taking part in a community or challenge can give you the motivation to keep going. Here are some great examples;

30 days of yoga with Adriene;

21 day meditation challenge;

30 day running challenge;

Maybe your habit is more creative such as learning to salsa (that’s mine!) or learn a language or learn to paint! Again, find a local support group that can be your wing buddy!

5. If you fall off the horse, get back on it!

There might be days when you don’t take part in creating your habit. That’s natural! Don’t give up, get straight back on the horse the next day! Remind yourself of why this is important to you, what’s the emotion that’s driving your habit such as wanting to feel calmer, or more energised or clear minded.

Go and make it happen!

Thank you for such a great question Peter!  And I would LOVE to hear what new habits you are creating for yourself!

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