So you want better habits? As you well should. Your habits are the defining factor in the life that you create and perpetuate. They determine what you eat, where you go, how you move and how you feel. They shape your reality.
Oftentimes people get so caught up in negative behaviors that they overthink how simple it actually is to change a habit. No, not easy, but yes, simple.
According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, we each follow a feedback loop of cue, behavior, reward. Repeat. Taking on new habits by giving yourself new cues and rewarding different behaviors will help interrupt old habits. It will reshape your choices and responses.
Remember, this is a process. You are quite literally rewiring the circuitry of your brain. So it’s probably not going to feel like second nature on the first day. But you can expedite this process of making self-care exercise a habit.
Make self-care your keystone habit to fast-track your fitness goals
The good news about habit-building is that once you’ve hard-wired a new habit, it becomes automatic–so you don’t have to put so much effort in anymore. To turbo-charge into newer, healthier habits, consider changing a keystone habit. A keystone habit is a shift in behavior that leads to “chain reactions that help other good habits take hold,” according to Duhigg.
“Keystone habits influence how we work, eat, play, live, spend, and communicate… they can start a process that, over time, transforms everything.” -Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit
Adopting a new keystone habit will create a cascade of positive effects on the rest of your life. For instance, if you’ve been sleep-deprived for months and you suddenly commit to getting eight hours a night, that’s going to positively impact many other parts of your life: You might drink less caffeine, make better eating choices, be more productive at work.
The special magic of keystone habits is that they change your self-concept. When your idea of who you are changes, you experience a paradigm shift. You come to think of yourself as a different kind of person and see your life through new eyes. Then you begin to behave as that kind of person would.
If you want to make health and fitness top priority, we suggest that you make self-care a keystone habit. By regularly setting aside 10, 15 or 20 minutes to relieve tension, breathe deeply, tune in to yourself more fully, all other decisions will be touched.
Regular self-care practice will help you think of yourself as someone worthy of care–someone who deserves to reach and actualize your bigger hopes and dreams. It will help you out of the frustrating reactionary cycle of stress and poor choices in your daily life.
Why do I need self-care fitness?
Committing to a regular self-care practice means you set aside time to do activities that make you feel peaceful, vibrant, fulfilled and cared for. This helps inspire regeneration in your body. You become a more resilient self-healing, self-repairing organism.
Examples of self-care: Practice self-massage by rolling on therapy balls. Do gentle yoga postures to ease tension and increase circulation. Experiment with conscious breathing practices. Meditate on a new mindset. Engage in dynamic stretch and movement that feels good. A committed habit of self-care will nourish your body and mind to set your attitude and nervous system up for optimal health.
This probably sounds like a brilliant idea, but you may have the nagging feeling that it might not be so easy to prioritize. As previously mentioned, it might not be easy at first, but it is simple. The following chart provides habit-building practices that will support a smoother shift into regular self-care. Print it out and stick it on your refrigerator. It’ll be your first “cue!”
If you want us here at @TuneUpFitness to be your first accountability buddy, tell us your self-care goal in the comments below! Let us know why you know you knead it (sorry, self-massage joke), and what your plan is… we’ve got your back.
Author: Ariel Kiley
Related Article: Self-Care and Spine Health: Insights from Neurosurgeon Dr. Erich Anderer
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Good idea : “If you want to make health and fitness top priority, we suggest that you make self-care a keystone habit. By regularly setting aside 10, 15 or 20 minutes to relieve tension, breathe deeply, tune in to yourself more fully, all other decisions will be touched.”
Je suis la pire pour avoir une routine mais je laisse tout le matériel traîner dans ma pièce de vie et même si c’est 5 mn c’est tous les jours. Car le jardin est pour moi mon autre yoga.
Changing habits can be a huge task for me. Like many, I have gotten comfortable with “surviving.” After living in survival mode for so long, it is time I committ to daily self-care fitness. I spend my days giving to my school community and students, my loved ones, and my dog, but I rarely (how convenient!) find time for myself, or, should I say, the energy. Im running on fumes by mid-day, most days. I think for me, a whole turn-around is needed to when I am “trying” to make this self-promise happen. With the sun back for longer days,… Read more »
I loved learning about the Power of Habits framework and “cues” that are a fundamental part of creating circuitry in the brain. 10xing my self-care is a goal I’ve been recently talking about, but I’m realizing I need to break this up into smaller habits and go through the process of defining what “self-care” means to me so I can specific about the actions that qualify towards truly building a self-care lifestyle. For example, I’ll practice parasympathetic breathing while I’m in the shower, or the first few moments once I wake up in the morning. Thanks for the perspective and… Read more »
I keep telling myself that I want to build a habit of self-care time into my mornings, but rarely does it actually happen. I think that step 1 of literally putting it on my calendar might be just the thing that I need to make it the most important appointment on the agenda!
I felt the same way as you Sarah! I have all the intentions in the world of doing “all the things” meditate, ball work, wash my face…but the follow through is the challenging part. I found Atomic Habits to be very helpful as well as Tiny Habits by Bogg. I even share their “formulas” with my High Schoolers to help them start good habits from the start. I hope your morning routines are more consistent 🙂
Thank you for the great tips to ensure self-care.
Very nice text on the magical power of adopting a keystone habit on all the rest of our life and on the consciousness of a human who loves himself for real!
So simple but so true! Self care is so important!
Creating a new habits takes discipline. It is a contract with myself. What works best for me is sharing my commitment to what I do with others.
Simple and effective!
Very helpful article. Self-care practice can be very simple! Thanks for this visual reminder.
Adding this to my routine will make it a habit!