5 tips to help establish a healthy habit

5 tips to help establish a healthy habit

Thinking about starting something new? Whether you’re thinking about beginning a new practice or have already dipped your toe into the pool and need some motivation, this is for you.

One morning my husband, Byron, and I decided to dance before going about our day. When we came home that evening we noticed that we both responded to the question, “How was your day?” with the genuine answer, “Great!” The next morning we decided to dance again, to test the question: Does dancing every morning result in having a great day?

On Day 99 of waking up and dancing together I honestly believed we’d be dancing every morning for a long time to come. It was a significant moment because we were on the cusp of 100 days, and I was excited. It felt important, like there was weight to it, like I was graduating or turning the page to a new chapter. And now we’ve been at it for over a year.

Guest post by Andrea Mapili

Andrea is a movement and awareness teacher and professional artist in Toronto. She conducts workshops and classes promoting empowerment, creativity, and wellness through movement-based expressive arts. This story originally appeared at her website.

A little history about me, I have a long and complicated past with starting and stopping physical practices – like jogging. My problem seems to be sticking to it. But for some reason, this practice – this dance – has stuck in a major way and it hasn’t been so hard. So it got me thinking, what was different? After reflecting, thinking, and dancing on it, I realized my approach had been different. So, here are my top 5 tips to help a new practice stick:

  1. Start small. Don’t try and conquer the world in one day. Take baby steps. Dancing every day only takes us three to five minutes (depending on the song) and the effects last much longer. It sets us up for a great day. Remember, a little goes a long way. Especially at first.
  2. Schedule it! If it’s not scheduled, it doesn’t exist, and you’ll never have time for it. Set a time – for us, it’s 8:30-ish (why “–ish?” See tip #3). If you schedule it in your calendar, it’s just more likely to happen.
  3. Practice self-compassion. Here’s a big one, and an important one to set the foundation for long term success. Go easy on yourself – if you miss one morning, don’t worry. It’s not the end of the world or the end of your practice. Hey, life happens and we all know this, but you must get back on track and continue to follow your schedule. As for us, we have missed mornings. When we do, we call each other as we’re running to meetings to schedule a dance that evening. The important thing is continuity, so make sure that missing a day is the exception, not the rule.
  4. Accountability is key. Make yourself accountable by getting others involved. Byron and I take a two-pronged approach to this one. We have each other (to motivate each other to get out of bed) and we have our online community of wonderful supporters. Every Saturday, we post our weekly playlist and ask for song referrals. Even though there are thousands of songs out there, sometimes it’s hard for us to think of new ones (a groggy morning brain is not very good at remembering songs) and having a ready list of referrals helps so much. We’ve set it up (and scheduled it) so that people can expect to see our post each and every Saturday. Knowing that we’ve set it up this way gives us the push we need to get it out there and keep going.
  5. Celebrate successes. This looks different for everyone. For me, I’m celebrating the 99 days milestone by taking a moment to reflect on the journey and writing this post. For you, it might look different. No matter how you do it, it’s important to celebrate that you had the courage to start something new. Thank yourself for embracing change.

Remember, I’m in your corner. And I hope these tips help bring you more awareness and give you some tools to help make your new practice stick. Who knows, maybe I’ll even try jogging again. Here’s to having the courage to start something new, to embrace change, and to having the tenacity (and tools) to see it through.

Images courtesy Mona Dehghan Kiani

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