How long does it take to form a new habit? Opinions vary, length of time is subjective, and certain experts say anywhere from 18 to 254 days. Regardless of the “official” length of time it takes to form a habit, what’s most important is starting where you are. It’s defeating and discouraging to set a goal or intention so far from where you are currently that it would take feats of strength (and time, and money) for you to achieve it. There’s a reason the acronym for SMART goals includes the all-important “R”: realistic.
Setting goals that are unrealistic or unattainable set you up to fail. Conversely, setting achievable goals helps reduce frustration and sustain momentum. How much better does a 5km run feel than a half marathon on your first day of a new training program? While it’s tempting to reach for the stars, you may find a new habit or behavior easier to form and sustain if you aim for incremental improvements; progress over perfection.
Some habits are easier to form than others, and some people are hardwired to develop new behaviors quickly. To maximize your chances for success in creating new wellness patterns this year, think of each of your macro goals as having many micro goals to help you achieve them. What does this look like? It looks like starting small with behavioural shifts, attitude adjustments, and ‘quick wins’ designed to keep you moving forward in pursuit of what serves you best. Quick wins are important because seeing immediate results is very motivating, and often helps fuel the drive towards reaching a certain milestone.
At Saje, our philosophy is to speak to the different ways in which we can simplify our journey to optimal wellness through our daily choices. Here are three pillars of wellness we believe can best support you in creating new wellness practices:
START THE NIGHT BEFORE
When we think of areas of improvement specifically related to our wellness, sleep tops the list for many. From busy minds to irregular hours, there is no shortage of ways in which our sleep routines can be disrupted. Let’s work to make this the year we prioritize our sleep by making small shifts with big results:
- Choose to be screen free a minimum of 1 hour before bedtime. Blue light, the kind released through our electronics, tricks our minds into delaying the production of melatonin in our bodies by mimicking daylight. By turning off our laptops and cell phones even one hour earlier, we increase the likelihood of our bodies moving naturally into a state of rest and relaxation. Challenge yourself to reduce your screen time by one hour per day and see how your sleep routine benefits.
- Get on a sleep schedule. This means choosing both a bedtime and wake up time, and sticking with it. As creatures of habit, there are many benefits to a fixed sleep schedule; sleep deprivation and the side effects that often follow, such as grogginess, caffeine dependence, and irritability, can be greatly lessened by aligning with your circadian rhythm - a roughly 24 hour cycle that helps determine our sleeping and eating patterns. Experiment with a fixed sleep schedule for even one week and observe the changes you see in your mood and energy levels.
- Try diffusing. Ultrasonic Diffusers are an easy way to introduce clear, refreshed air into your space. Tailor your nighttime experience to meet your needs with balancing and nurturing essential oils of roman chamomile, valerian, lavender, and vetiver, many of which can be found in our popular diffuser blends for sleep, like Dream State, Peaceful Slumber, and Goodnight.
When it comes to taking care of your body’s nutritional needs, there’s no one-size-fits-all philosophy. Working to determine your ideal food and beverage intake is innately personal, and can be very rewarding. Knowing what fuels you to feel your best is liberating and can reduce the amount of time spent feeling sluggish or ‘off’. Invest in high quality foods and supplements to help you feel awesome every day:
- Eat the rainbow. Choose foods that are naturally able to provide your body with the energy it needs to sustain vitality and longevity. Nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts will help your mind stay focused and your body functioning at peak performance. Start by adding one extra fruit or veg per day to your meals or smoothies - bonus if you try something that might be new to you, like okra or kohlrabi!
- Eat mindfully. Eating too fast, eating too much, or eating foods that are difficult to digest can leave you feeling less than awesome. Eating mindfully means taking time to experience your food, and paying attention to the process of consuming. Some of the biggest culprits? Watching tv or scrolling our phones at mealtime. These distractions can end up causing discomfort later, as we become unaware of the quantity and quality of the foods we are eating. Try eating in a designated area like your desk or kitchen table rather than on the couch or over your lap. Trade electronics for conscious conversation, or reflection and alone time, and see how your body receives nourishment differently.
- Support yourself naturally. No matter how mindful we are, a tummy ache or bout of indigestion happens to the best of us. Let spicy fennel and refreshing juniper berry help fortify and reset your body with the cleansing blend of stimulating essential oils found in our Cleanse. Apply to the sides of your neck or torso and around where your lymph nodes are located for comforting relief.
FIND WHAT MOVES YOU
Our bodies were designed to move. Movement affects all of the systems in the body, from circulation to digestion, and helps us feel vibrant and energized. A sedentary lifestyle has become normalized, and we’ve lost the youthful exuberance of playing and enjoying movement for pleasure versus seeing movement as a chore or a punishment for our choices. Let’s make this the year we reclaim movement, move our bodies in ways that make us feel joy, and experience connection to ourselves and others:
- Invest in the right gear. No one likes to feel uncomfortable or unsupported in their clothes or equipment, so take the time this year to choose the gear you need to best complement your fitness goals. A brand new pair of running shoes or a properly fitted bicycle helmet can be the difference between an established wellness routine and something collecting dust on the top shelf of your closet. Think of it as an investment in yourself. Save up or splurge on the items that will encourage you to move while feeling safe and supported.
- Move how you like to move. With so many options for physical wellness, it can be hard to know where to start. Listen to your intuition and help it guide you towards movement that makes your body feel strong and capable. A big part of sticking with a new routine is choosing something you enjoy doing. Some of us are drawn to lower impact movement like yoga or cycling, and some of us are jazzed to push our bodies to the limit with high intensity movement like running or cross training. Whatever you enjoy, and whatever feels right for your body is the movement you’re most likely to commit to doing. Don’t get stuck in your head; there isn’t a “right” way to move your body. Consistency is what brings about results - don’t be afraid to try a new class or join a studio. Get curious this year about what lights you up!
- Take care of yourself. No matter your choice of movement, listening to your body is the most important way to stay feeling well. You’ll move your best when you feel your best, and this means taking the time to stretch, warm up, and cool down. Our Pain Release roll-on is the perfect complement to movement; roll generously where you feel sore, tight, or tense, pre and post movement.
This year, focus on the ways in which you want to feel better. Resolutions and quick-fixes can feel limiting and disheartening, but making conscious choices to shift behaviours or adopt an attitude of gratitude can significantly increase our chances of long term success in reaching our wellness goals. Start where you are, and celebrate the small victories along the way. Cheers to our collective better health!