Changing your life doesn't require changing who you are, adopting demanding regimens, or forking out hundreds of dollars. Believe it or not, it's the small, daily habits that have the ability to transform your life into what you've always dreamed it could be! Taking on too much, too fast can halt our progress. Studies have shown that drastic overhauls and overly ambitious resolutions can result in overwhelm, and may even result in our abandoning our goals. A healthier option for body, mind and spirit, is to take small steps to see truly lasting change. So instead of loading on too much pressure and setting yourself up for failure, I recommend focusing on a few daily habits that form the foundation of wellness and success.
1. Speak Nicely To Yourself
Everyone deals with some level of negative self-talk, whether it be triggered by a specific incident, stress at work, feeling overwhelmed, or a lifetime of small hits that make you feel "less than." We would never dream of speaking as harshly to others as we do to ourselves. The good news is that negative self-talk can only have a negative impact if you actually believe it. But, why do we do this? First of all, let yourself off the hook (radical self-acceptance is at the core of more positive self-talk.). According to therapist, Lea Seigen Shinraku, MFT, speaking harshly to yourself is something we humans are wired to do. Why would there be any evolutionary advantage to being a "mean girl" to ourselves? Back when "fight or flight" was more about outrunning a tiger than whether or not to apply for our dream job, doubt and negative self-talk prevented us from doing something dangerous. Telling ourselves "I can't do it" helped us know when we shouldn't do it. In modern times, negative self-talk can be our default to help us feel in control about something that scares us, or to avoid rejection. We don't want to talk ourselves out of realizing our dreams and doing something truly great, so listen closely to the way you speak to yourself.
When your inner critic starts creeping in, here are four ways to help push it away:
a) Take a deep breath.
b) Write down three things for which you are grateful TODAY, followed by three areas in your life where you feel you truly shine.
c) Write your daily to-do list and ask yourself, "Does this support the life I am trying to create?" If it doesn't, cross it out. Then, circle three items to focus on today.
d) Be mindful when working on eliminating self-doubt. Trust your core. There's a reason why they call it a gut feeling, and it's why I believe that the core is the center of radiant health and happiness.
Jessica Schatz photographed by Kiley Shai
2. Do Nice Things For Yourself
With everything happening all the time, it's easy to forget to take care of yourself. How can we focus on ourselves when there is so much going on around us, not to mention worrying about careers, families, money, stress, and everything else that comes with modern life? But it doesn't have to be as difficult as it seems. If you're talking to yourself more as an ally than a foe, you'll begin to make more choices that are truly aligned with your purpose and best interests. You are your own best friend. So, what would you do for your own best friend? You'd treat them like the lovable, beautiful human they are. What do you wish someone would do for you? Shortcut: Do it for yourself. When we fail to pay attention to our own feelings or needs, we end up looking for feel-good substitutes like alcohol or junk food that deplete our minds and bodies.
Self-care is more than facials and bubble baths (although those are great.) At its core, self-care is about living your truth and being your authentic self. Pamper your body rather than punishing it. Whether it's getting a massage, taking a walk, having coffee with a friend, or dancing to a motivational song, the list is yours to design. Self-care rituals are a great way to reignite our energy and motivation by giving us the space we need to breathe, be present, be honest (with ourselves), and reflect.
3. Create A Conscious Morning Ritual
One of the best ways to develop a healthy mindset is to establish and prioritize a morning ritual that will set the tone for your entire day. My favorite morning practice is starting my day with mindfulness of breath and body. This includes a gratitude list, a short, guided meditation (I personally love Insight Timer), and a mindful movement practice (usually a combination of yoga and Pilates-based movement, but you can move and stretch your body however feels best for you). Morning meditation offers you the tools to take on anything. Rather than becoming frustrated by the actions of someone else or any inconvenience that may occur, the calm in your mind puts you in a state of flow and allows you to respond to these experiences with ease and grace. You are also better able to filter out any internal noise from your mind, making it easier to deepen your focus and clarity on what matters most.
Mindful movement synchronizes your body with a combination of movement, breath, and stillness. It promotes healing, increases energy and awareness, and sets the tone for the day. In addition to its multiple other benefits, mindful morning movement warms up the spine, which relieves any tension accumulated during sleep. By mindfully tuning into my body and breath first thing in the morning, I ease into my day with more clarity and vitality. Start with anywhere between 10 - 15 minutes. Remember that you deserve to feel good, even if you're busy. I'm always looking for creative ways to help people work this beneficial practice into their lives.
4. Get outside
Our bodies need sunlight just as much as they need food and water. We now know that in addition to providing us with vitamin D, sunlight raises the body's levels of nitric oxide – a vital molecule that increases blood flow, optimizes the immune system, and acts as a signaling molecule for the brain. This is why depriving your body of sunlight can leave you unhealthy and unhappy, contributing to burnout and/or depression. In addition to craving sunlight, our minds and bodies crave nature. More and more studies are showing that simply being out in nature can profoundly affect our mood. Whether it is a full exercise session in the form of a run, swim, or hike, or simply taking a walk, going to watch the sunset, or even simply creating a container garden on your balcony, treat your body to a small dose of nature every day.
What I've learned through my journey is that so much of this is about self-love. It's about taking care of ourselves because we deserve it. I encourage you to implement these four simple habits to bring about greater joy and well-being in your life. You have the power, outside the bounds of circumstance, to create the life you love. Remember, we are all special and amazing! So from now on, let's be kind to our amazing selves. Your core is speaking to you. Be sure to listen, like you would to your own best friend.
WRITTEN BYJessica Schatz - The Core Expert™