How to create good habits so you can feel less stressed

How to create good habits so you can feel less stressed

Do you know that habits are the key to happiness? Do you know how to create good habits can make you feel less stressed? Are you aware how much of your behaviour is habitual and how much impact it has on your life? In this blog, I will show you how to create good habits so you can feel less stressed. 

I am sure you are aware of how important habits can be in maintaining your health. Smoking, drinking alcohol and eating takeaways are obvious ones to avoid. Whereas brushing our teeth and taking a shower are best retained. I am sure you have tried to add a new healthy habit to your life at some point. Hands up who has joined a gym in January and seem to have forgotten the way there by February. 

How often have you tried and failed to install a new healthy habit or get rid of an unhealthy one? How often have you failed? How much stress has this created in your life? The continual battle of whether to carry out your new, healthy habit or not can be exhausting. 

So why do we spend so much time trying to change our habits?

 Habits are the best way to establish long-term change because they are automatic. This means that once you establish a habit like brushing your teeth, you no longer need to think about it. This frees you from becoming a victim of willpower and motivation (or lack of them). It also protects you from falling back into old ways. When tired or stressed, you revert to your habits which is why it is important to have as many good ones as possible. The other thing about good habits is that they free up your mind. This means you can think, create, problem solve and tackle all that stuff that pops up in an average day in your life.  

Your habits also make you who you are. If you have habits to overcome procrastination, you will become an organised person. If you have habits which get you being active, you will become a fit person. If your habits mean that you eat good, nutritious food, you will be a healthy person. When Aristotle said, ‘We are what we repeatedly do.’ he was right. 

It’s easy to see how having the right habits can make you feel less stressed.

 A great example of this came up for me recently. I was ill for a few days but I still mediated every day. Then as soon as the worst was over, I got my workout gear on and did some yoga. Both habits I did on a lesser scale than normal, but I still did them.  

I am not saying I am tough or strong to keep doing these things, it is that now, these things are who I am! To not do them would be so much stranger than doing them. As I already said, once you establish a habit it becomes part of your hard-wiring and it becomes what you do. You will all have habits you can relate to like this. Ones like brushing your teeth for example. The sort of habit where you know would not feel right if you didn’t do it. 

Is there a healthy habit you have been trying to establish for a while? Are you finding it hard? Do you realise that you have healthy habits like brushing your teeth but have no idea how they got there?  

Are you ready to find out how to create good habits so you can feel less stressed? 

So, how do we establish a new habit?

 Start very small 

Have you ever tried to make a big change like going to the gym several times per week? Have you ever failed to make such a big change? Let me tell you why. 

Big changes are too much for our minds to accept. Your mind has a blueprint of who you are. It has a set of rules it likes to apply to what it does and does not think you can do. If you make a change way outside this blueprint, your mind rebels and stops you in your tracks. Your mind thinks you are trying to change your personality overnight. It wants to protect the status quo and gets in your way. Some people call this self-sabotage and it affects many of the clients I see in one way or another. 

To overcome this you need to start small. You need to sneak in on your belief system under cover of darkness, completely undetected.  

How small is small?

 Let’s continue with the concept of exercise. Imagine your mind thinks you are a lazy layabout who doesn’t exercise. To change towards a belief that you are a person who exercises you could start by putting on your workout gear on. If you do this at the time you plan to exercise, you will start to create a new trigger inside your mind.  

In his book, ‘Mini Habits’, Steven Guise committed to one press-up each day. On each occasion, he did more but his commitment was only ever one press-up. When you have made your first step you will notice an urge to do some exercise but still stay small.

One sit-up will sneak past the guards in your mind, but if you tell yourself you are going for a 2-mile run, it might be too much. You can play about with this – setting your very small habit goal each day until that feels comfortable. What you will notice over time, is that you consistently do more than your very small habit. But never change the small goal as that will be your fall-back habit when the going gets tough. 

Change the beliefs you have about yourself!

 The key here is to overcome the self-sabotaging blocks you have to exercise. The aim is to change who your mind thinks you are. Once you establish a small habit, your mind stops believing that you are that lazy layabout. Then you reduce the resistance to exercise. The key to this is not the exercise itself but changing the belief and establishing a new habit.  

By starting small, you can begin to change who you think you are. Then you can establish a whole set of new habits which can help you feel less stressed. 

Ready to create good habits so you can feel less stressed, get in touch with me now and let me help you.

What happens when you are sleep deprived?

What happens when you are sleep deprived?

Are you ignoring what happens when you are sleep deprived? Are you sleepwalking into a health disaster? I often hear people say that they don’t need 7-9 hours sleep.

We hear it on the news too. Some of us will remember the claims that Margaret Thatcher only had 4 hours of sleep per night. And if you tune in to YouTube you will hear about ‘the hustle’! This appears to be a competition in who can be most successful on the least sleep. 

We live in a society which is telling us to work longer hours, cram more into life and sleep as little as possible. 

But what is the truth? What happens when you are sleep deprived?

 I have broken down what happens when you are sleep deprived into two sections. The effects in the short and long-term.  

What happens when you are sleep deprived in the short-term?

Your memory malfunctions

When you are asleep, your brain does all it’s filing and sorting of your experiences during the day. It forms new neural connections which help you process information. When you are sleep deprived your brain doesn’t have time to do this. As a result, you reduce your short and long-term memory function.  

Your concentration and thinking get foggy

You will have noticed that when you are sleep deprived, you are less likely to be able to solve problems. You will also be less creative. This can contribute to stress as you struggle to solve your daily list of challenges. 

You will be moodier

I am sure you have noticed how short your fuse becomes when you haven’t had enough sleep. You might have observed that you are more inclined to emotional outbursts too. Even little things can feel unmanageable when you are sleep deprived. 

You will be more accident prone

We have all seen the big warning signs on the motorway telling us to take a break. Even the government has realised that sleep deprivation and tiredness cause accidents. You may have noticed yourself that when you are sleep deprived, you are more likely to drop and spill things. If you are doing some kind of manual work or a lot of driving for a living getting enough sleep is even more vital. 

You will be off balance

And I mean, in your body! When you are sleep deprived, your coordination and balance take a knock. This makes you more likely to fall or have other accidents.

What happens when you are sleep deprived in the long-term? 

Your blood pressure will increase

When you are sleep deprived you are much more likely to have high blood pressure. This increases your chance of other health conditions like stroke and heart attack. 

You increase your risk of diabetes

When you are sleep deprived, it affects your production of insulin. This is the hormone which lowers your blood-sugar. If you don’t have enough insulin, you have too much blood-sugar and this can lead to type 2 diabetes. 

You will gain weight

Have you noticed the carbohydrate cravings which appear after a poor night’s sleep? When you are sleep deprived the chemicals which tell you when you are hungry and full go out of balance. You are more likely to overindulge and eat more unhealthy foods when you are sleep deprived. 

You increase your risk of heart disease

As I have already mentioned, sleep deprivation increases blood pressure. This contributes to heart disease. Sleep deprivation also increases chemicals in your blood linked to inflammation. Inflammation is also a contributory factor in heart disease. So, if you are sleep deprived, your risk of heart disease increases. 

Your sex drive will be low

Sleep deprivation reduces your libido. I am sure we have all experienced issues with getting in the mood when we haven’t had enough sleep. Sleep deprivation in men also reduces testosterone levels which makes things even worse.

You are more likely to develop depression and anxiety

As I mentioned above, short-term sleep deprivation makes us moody and emotional. But chronic, sleep deprivation can cause depression. Before my diagnosis of depression in March 2015, I had been sleeping about 3-5 hours per night for at least 3 months. Sadly, lack of sleep causes depression and depression can affect our ability to sleep. Sometimes it may be difficult to know which came first. 

What can you do when you are sleep deprived?

As you can see, what happens when you are sleep deprived affects your health in the short and long-term. The key thing is that most of us need 7-9 hours of sleep. If you are not getting that, it will have an impact on your health.  But don’t worry, all is not lost. In my previous blog, I shared ’10 Top Tips to Sleep Better so You Can Feel Less Stressed’. You will find something you can change to improve your sleep in that blog. And, if you still cannot sleep, please get in touch. I have worked with many clients to improve their sleep and can probably help you.