On a recent shopping trip I picked up a little striped cardigan for 70% off. Deal! I had a passing thought about it being kind of like a cute little cardigan already in my closet. But a deal is a deal, right?
As it turns out, I have a total of seven striped tops in my closet as well as a pair of striped slacks. Are you seeing a pattern here? Stripes?
We could make all kinds of assumptions and read into this pattern. But I don't think there's any harm in stripes. As Sigmund Freud said, "Sometimes a cigar is really just a cigar." But I might have some behavior patterns, or habits, that are harmful. How about you?
Until you open the proverbial closet door you might not even be aware of what patterns will emerge. Think about it now. What patterns or habits have you fallen into that might be chipping away at your health and wellness?
• hitting the snooze button
• medicating stress
• trying to please everyone
• eating out frequently
• watching television every night
• finding fault with self or others
This list could go on and none of it is insurmountable with willingness for behaviour change.
Sometimes the absence of healthy lifestyle habits creates the opportunity for negative behaviours, like overeating, to fill the space. As a wellness coach I've worked with many people who turn to food, often as a result of stress, boredom, or other negative feelings. Having strategies like walking away or taking three deep breaths in the heat of a moment are examples of wellness at work. Spending ten minutes a day doing something that inspires you in some way could be the start of bouncing back to your best self and the disappearance of boredom.
If a lack of food in the fridge contributes to your eating out more often than your health or wallet can handle, you might try shopping for groceries on a regular basis. This will not only save you a lot of money it will help to curb the restaurant outings.
Are you seeing how this works? Living mindfully and intentionally will keep you on the right side of health and wellness.
Perhaps you're fully aware of what needs changing in your life, but you're not sure how to start. The following steps will help you succeed in replacing bad habits, or patterns, with healthy ones. A wellness coach can support you even further.
1. Create awareness. Look in your closet to see what patterns emerge. What is out of balance, or causing you, or those around you, unnecessary grief?
2. Seek to understand your needs. While vertical stripes generally make one look taller and slimmer, other patterns might not be so flattering. For example, why do you hit the snooze button repeatedly each morning?
- Are you tired because you go to bed too late?
- Are you not sleeping well?
- Do you dread the day ahead?
The answers to these questions offer tailored solutions. Left unexamined, patterns repeat themselves. That's why they're called patterns! Repeated snoozing can lead to feelings of frustration and/or failure and potentially other undesirable patterns: running late every morning and unzipped stripes!
Ask yourself, what need does this pattern fulfill? What triggers it? What do you really need or want?
3. Imagine the desired behavior. A clear picture of what you want, what you stand to gain as a result, and why it's important to you will motivate you to change. When you notice your trigger, pause and visualize your desired behavior and future state.
4. Choose a healthier, replacement habit. For example, instead of hitting the snooze, set your alarm to sound 10 minutes later (ahhh) and commit to rising on the first alarm. You will start the day on a good note and build confidence in your ability to follow through on a goal.
5. Make a decision and commit to changing - one small step at a time. As any life coach will tell you, all great accomplishments are made up of small steps. Just decide and commit to what you want and believe you can achieve. Once you've succeeded in creating a new habit, commit to the next step. Success begets success.
6. Don't judge it. Observe, learn, and grow. Judging and labeling your actions, or lack thereof, do nothing to forward your situation. Just observe the behavior, insert the replacement habit as soon as possible and keep on going.
Changing stripes isn't always easy, but don't lock on to the idea that it must be difficult either. Living mindfully will keep you on the right side of your health and wellness goals.
I see now that to round out my wardrobe I could wear different patterns, like dots, florals, paisley or plaid. Hopefully there are a few new patterns you'd like to try also. The opportunities are endless.
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Written by Claudette Pelletier-Hannah, 12 Weeks to Wellness Coach