We can all be overwhelmed when it comes to making changes that improve our happiness and wellbeing. What to focus on? What do I need to do most? Is low carb or low fat right for me? Should I do high intensity workouts or walk more?
The explosion of blogs, articles and celebs all telling us to eat more of this specific superfood, or try that new miracle exercise, obscure the most important thing for your health - starting with something that you think you could enjoy and do regularly.
For example: The "best" exercise is one you will do
Let's start with an example from the world of exercise. We might hear that if we use a certain type of high intensity exercise, we only need to exercise for 10 minutes a day. Or that if we exercise in the morning then we will burn more calories than in the evening. What nobody tells you is that the differences that are being talked about are minimal.
The biggest change in health comes from 'doing nothing' to 'doing something', even if it's just 10 minutes a day. And, if you choose something you enjoy, over time you can aim to build up to 30 minutes a day (the level of moderate activity to keep yourself 'younger') - but in the meantime, you are gaining a greater benefit just by doing something.
The positive feedback of "doing something"
The reason that just 'doing something' is so important is due to something known as 'Behavioural Activation'. This technique has been used by psychologists for many years and refers to the idea that we don't have to spend ages trying to find the motivation to do something, but instead can get motivation from actually doing something even if it's a small amount to start with. It's often used in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and useful within the treatment of depression. That's because people with depression tend to reduce activities that would give them positive emotions and by increasing those activities they can begin to feel the emotions they've lost. So whether it's making time to see friends that you haven't seen for a while, going for a walk in nature or trying a new food, each of those behaviours can be the springboard for a change in your life.
Start small and aim for sustained change
BJ Fogg, author of Tiny Habits, advises when faced with complexity or when paralysed by the scale of a task, that we 'go tiny'. What this means is to break the task down to it's most simple steps and do those no matter how small. Here the focus is on the development of a habit that becomes automatic as you repeat it. He gives the example of doing one push up a day, then two, until you find you can do 10 or 20. The point is that the effort at the beginning of the process is to work out how you will remind yourself to do this small thing every day. Once that pattern is set then you will automatically increase your behaviours
Set a vision for yourself
Setting a vision of what you want for yourself and why, is helpful to remind yourself of why you want to make changes - this positive visualisation is important to keep your motivation high and remind yourself that you are worth the effort. This is one of the first things we do when working with our clients in our Younger Living Edit programs.
Choose where you want to start
Our free Life Age Assessment provides a scientifically validated assessment of how different health and happiness factors are affecting you and what you can do to improve. It's a great way to start prioritising what you might want to change and focus on to start with.
Start making small changes that can become habits over time
Once you have that, you can then focus your attention on starting to building new habits that you know will get feeling happier, healthier and years younger.
If you need some support, we have range of expert habit change services to help.
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