When it comes to making a change, most people would tell you that they do not enjoy change. Change is not easy, because humans are creatures of habit. We want to maintain predictable patterns, habits, and routines. This provides us with a sense of comfort.
Even if we don’t like change, there are ways to make healthy lifestyle changes easier, especially when we are entering into new, uncharted territory:
- Determine the pros and cons. If we know that we need to make changes in our life, and we are not looking forward to doing so, we can do this tried and true exercise that will make the change more manageable.
Take a sheet of paper, and on one side write, Pros, and on the other write, Cons. On the corresponding side, you will identify the pros and the cons of the change to clearly see what the benefits and drawbacks might be. This simple, yet powerful, exercise will help us to pinpoint what may be holding us back, which could be the fear of change itself.
Seeing the pros and cons will help us to realize how it will benefit us to make the change we want to make. This also allows us to warm up to the thought that change actually might actually be a good idea.
- Make the change gradually. Another way to make lifestyle changes easier is to work our way up to them. For instance, if the healthy lifestyle change that you need to make centers around stopping your habit of smoking, you may not want to quit cold turkey. Instead of adopting an all or nothing approach, you can work your way up to your ultimate goal. Stop smoking one pack of cigarettes per day, and start by smoking three-fourths of a pack per day. As you get comfortable with three-fourths of a pack per day, try smoking a half of pack per day, and continue until you are physically and mentally ready to adopt the lifestyle of a non-smoker.
Making changes gradually helps us to practice new behaviors, challenge negative thought patterns, and get comfortable with the process. Resistance is a normal part of the change process, so, give yourself permission to ease into it at your own pace.
- Use affirmations. Another way to help make lifestyle changes easier is to use positive affirmations. Positive affirmations are statements that encapsulate the way we would ideally like to think, feel, or act.
You can either create your own affirmations or select one that resonates with you. The key is to choose an affirmation that speaks to you and that you can believe for yourself. Words are powerful and, when we repeat our affirmations, they help to shift our mindset to one that is more positive and empowering. When we change our mindset, we change how we feel. When we change how we feel, we change how we behave. Then, we are able to change our lives!
If you are struggling with making a healthy lifestyle change, remind yourself why you want to change. You can say something like, I am in the process of becoming a non-smoker, so, that I can breathe easier, live a longer, healthier life, and save more money. When you repeat this often enough, it becomes your response to the anxiety that can accompany change. This makes changes easier to handle.
Some lifestyle changes are harder than others to make, even when we really want and/or need to make the change. When you find yourself resisting a positive change, instead of giving up, remember these three tips. Write a pros and cons list to identify the benefits of the change. Then, make the change gradually to give your mind and body a chance to grow accustomed to the change. Use affirmations to shift your thoughts, feelings, and actions to support the change you want to make.
Changing for the better is not always easy, but it is always worth it in the end. So, see it through to the finish one step at a time.
That’s another story . . .
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