Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
It has been a joy to work through our series on the small microhabits of health.
As a review, there are six key components to optimal well-being: nutrition, movement, sleep, water, mindfulness and stress management. Last week we discussed the importance of water. This week we are going to thoughtfully unwrap the habit of mindfulness.
Our mind produces about 70,000 thoughts a day. Don’t ask me how researchers came up with that number, but it is a collective consensus among many health and brain experts. With that many thoughts, do you realize that we spend most of our days in a state of mindlessness? Really! It’s true.
Think about this. How many of you have found yourselves driving down the road and the next thing you know, you “wake up” to realize you have traveled 10 miles and possibly missed your exit? That has happened to me before. Or what about this scenario? You sit down to watch your favorite TV show with a bag of chips and when you look down, you have eaten the whole bag. For me, it used to be a huge container of ice cream.
My business and coaching partner, Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen, has this to say about mindfulness: “A key first step is learning to recognize when you have a choice instead of letting a habit autopilot your way to an unhealthy behavior. Once you see the choice, you can start to reprogram how you react in those situations, training yourself to make the healthy behavior automatic, replacing the habit of disease with a habit of health.”
I love to coach my clients through a process we call “Stop, Challenge, Choose” that is in our habits of health system by Dr. Andersen. He reminds us that anytime you become aware of an unhealthy thought, feeling, or action, use this method.
Let’s say you’re about to eat a whole tray of appetizers at a party because you’re nervous. First, stop, and take a deep, slow breath to help bring your emotions under control. Challenge yourself by thinking about why you’re feeling or acting the way you are. Then choose the behavior that supports what you really want.
To create lasting, sustainable change in our health, we need to transform our behaviors.
Here are some quick tips to help you refresh your own mindfulness practices:
1. Keep a journal — Reflect on your day and write down where you might have been able to make a healthier choice.
2. Plan ahead — If you know a certain situation is a challenge for you, plan your response ahead of time so that you are more prepared for the moment when it comes.
3. Meditate — If you take a few minutes to pause and focus on your breathing, both as a regular part of your daily routine and in times of stress, you can pull yourself out of an automatic loop and think more clearly.
4. Talk to your coach — Your health coach will give you support and strategies to help you on your journey. Don’t feel frustrated! Reach out to ask for advice instead.
5. Change your environment — Sometimes the best solution to a challenge is to remove it completely, which is why we recommend removing unhealthy foods from your home and from your desk at work.
Mindfulness is a skill that takes practice. If you stumble, that’s OK! Work at your habits each day. That consistency, even if your steps are very small, is a big opportunity to transform your health. It takes 66 days to create a new habit so don’t give up on these few we have been unpacking for the past several weeks. Keep going. It is not about perfection, it is about persistence.
I would love to hear how you have been adopting these habits into your life. Please feel free to reach out to me on Facebook or email@example.com. Next we will tackle the last microhabit of stress and how to combat it in our lives.
Honey Wiggs is a speaker, author and a certified health coach. Even though she lives in North Carolina, she has helped over 7,000 people across the country transform their lives one healthy habit at a time. Honey can be reached at info@legacyOfJoyInc.com or visit her website at www.LegacyOfJoyInc.com.