Overindulge over the holiday period? You’re certainly not alone, but now it’s time to get back on track. Early in the year makes for the perfect time to dust yourself off and recommit to a your version of a balanced, healthy life.
Consider all aspects of your life
Before rushing ahead to create new goals and habits, take some time to consider all aspects of your life and what it looks like at present. This will help you work out how to achieve a better balance.
Are you working longer hours than you’d like to (and perhaps don’t need to)? How much sleep are you getting? Do you get time to see family and friends, and do you allow yourself to simply relax every now and then? Are you always rushing from place to place?
Reflecting on your life as is it will highlight what you want to change, making it clearer as to which habits you want to get rid of and which you want to cultivate.
Understand your habits
Once you’ve worked out which habits you want to break (perhaps it’s reading your emails as soon as you wake up or reaching for that block of chocolate every day come 3.00pm), have a think about why you do these things.
Don’t dismiss the power of neurotransmitters – enjoyable behaviour prompts the release of dopamine, which makes it difficult to break pleasure-based habits such as constantly checking your phone or reaching for another biscuit.i
It’s not impossible to break these habits though. Firstly become aware of your triggers, and then replace the habits that no longer serve you with better ones you can draw upon instead.
Create better habits
When deciding on what new habits you’d like to establish, it’s okay to think small. In fact, creating smaller habits that work towards a healthy lifestyle tend to be more sustainable.
Habits that will better balance your life may be a simple as going for a short walk every morning or switching off from technology at least an hour before bed – these actions can reduce stress levels and optimise your health.
While most health habits are established in childhood, it’s never too late to change.ii You might want to reach out for support to help you pinpoint what you’d like your new habits to be and how you can make them work. For instance, a personal trainer can help you focus on your exercise goals, a dietician on what you’re eating, or a business coach or mentor if you’d like to create better work habits.
Stick with it
Scientists have found that it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit.iii To help stick with your goal, remember why you are doing it – how will it make your life better and more balanced? Will it improve your health, make you happier and less stressed? Perhaps it will help you achieve a career goal or help you branch out into a new area of business. Reminding yourself about why it matters can help keep you on track.
Check in on your progress to see how you’re tracking. This can also help you identify if you need additional support or to refocus your attention. You may also be pleasantly surprised at how far you have come!
Be kind to yourself
Sometimes in the quest for balance we can become overly focused to the point of getting stressed if all the pieces aren’t fitting perfectly together. A balanced life should be a happy one, so be kind to yourself.
Remember that balance and a commitment to health and happiness is a lifelong commitment. It’s not something you can tick off your to-do list. Also, life happens and sometimes our best habits and intentions fall by the wayside as we have to shift focus to what needs our attention. Rather than getting frustrated, work on recommitting to a balanced life as best you can, when you can.