I have found that it is often the simplest healthy habits like 5 minutes of meditation or adding one extra vegetable into the diet that make HUGE differences. It seems so simple but I see it all the time. I think a roadblock to creating optimal health is that we underestimate the benefits of small daily habits. Habits are behaviors or routines that are performed regularly and in many cases automatically. It is not one day of eating a green vegetable that makes a difference, but doing this every day for a few months when the changes pay off. By recognizing how our brain works and implementing some simple strategies we can get big results over time.
we underestimate the benefits of small tiny changes
While it sounds simple, we tend to underestimate that small actions can create a lot of resistance for the brain. Our brain is hard wired to be resistant to things that take up our valuable energy like making a healthy meal, doing a work out or starting something new like a few minutes of meditation. We want to be healthy and feel good in our bodies but we don’t always take the steps to optimize our health. The book I’m reading right now is called Atomic Habits by James Clear, in this book he explains that implementing these strategies all comes down to starting with the tiniest habits.
energy is precious and the brain is wired to conserve it whenever possible
One strategy he suggests is the 2 minute rule. Start something new but you must stop after 2 minutes. If you feel stressed and your goal is to feel less stressed download a meditation app. I use Headspace. Turn on the 2 minute meditation option and stop after 2 minutes. It’s important that you actually stop. By stopping, your keeping a promise to yourself and your brain can anticipate how much energy to save up for next time. We might get excited and meditate for 30 minutes we then start to feel bored as your time is finishing up and end feeling discouraged. By sticking to 2 minutes your more likely to start again the next day. When starting a new habit your brain has to find it easy. Start with less and build up. After a week of actually starting to enjoy the meditation it can then turn into 5 minutes then 10 minutes. At the end of the year you’re meditating consistently and have reached your goal of feeling less stressed. Rather than doing one hour of meditation one day and not picking it up again for months or never actually starting in the first place because your brain felt overwhelmed before you began.
Another strategy is called Habit Stacking.
we underestimate how much we can do on auto pilot
Habit stacking involves adding one new habit onto an existing habit. Again, your goal is to feel less stressed so you decide to start meditating. Pop in your headphones after you finish brushing your teeth in the morning and turn on your meditation app. Every time you see your tooth brush you’re reminded to start your meditation. This visual cue in your environment is powerful. We underestimate how much we can do on auto pilot. Instead of looking at your daily schedule for a good time to schedule in your meditation or waiting to feel inspired, you automatically know that after you brush you teeth, you do your meditation. This limits the mental drain of scheduling and it will become automated over time. Ideally, at some point you might just see your tooth brush and feel a little more zen. Which is a little weird but that just means you did a good job training your brain. I’ll end this with a little quote from the book:
“We all deal with setbacks, but in the long run the quality of our lives often depend on the quality of our habits. With the same habits you’ll end up with the same results. But with better habits, anything is possible”- James Clear.
What habits could you implement to create better health?