In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear writes about how your identity emerges out of your habits. The more you repeat a certain behaviour, the more you reinforce the identity you associate with that behaviour. For example, if you make your bed religiously every morning, you embody the identity of an organised person. Clear believes that the most effective way to change your habits is to focus on not what you want to achieve, but who you want to become.
As we head into Q4, with holiday festivities, family responsibilities and milestones weighing heavy, our selfceare is often the first thing to go. So how can you keep on track during this busy period? We use Clear’s theory to present some simple and easy tips for creating healthy morning and evening routines that can prime you for success.
Plump your pillows
Though it sounds simple enough, by making your bed every morning, you’ll reinforce your belief that you’re an organised person who takes pride doing the little things properly. It’s also a great way to accomplish the first task of the day, which creates a sense of pride and motivation to tackle the day ahead.
Most of us reach for our phones the minute the alarm sounds, to check social media or wade through new emails. Instead of this, try spending 5 minutes in bed practising mindfulness meditation. Not only will this help you to become more present and aware of your thoughts, but you’ll start your day feeling calmer, clearer and more focused. Calm and Headspace apps offer hundreds of guided meditations and even sleep stories to help you nod off. For an app free approach, Vipassana is another great example.
Practising gratitude is scientifically proven to improve physical and psychological health, enhance empathy, improve self-esteem and open the door to new relationships while nurturing current ones. Plus, it’s free, and you can do it from the comfort of your bed in the morning. Simply take a few moments each morning to make a mental list of everything that you’re grateful for. Watch how it helps improve your satisfaction with life.
The end of the day is just as important as the start and can help you mentally unwind, have a more restful night’s sleep and feel more prepared for the next morning.
Jot it down
If an overactive mind means you’re unable to switch off at night, a little journalling before bed can work wonders. Simply jotting down whatever comes into your mind, be it your thoughts, reflections of your day, things you’ve achieved, or even tomorrow’s to-do-list can help put your mind at ease. The act of putting pen to paper and getting your thoughts out can be incredibly soothing, helping to bring about a sense of relief and reassurance – plus, reading your journal back helps you to identify habits, repetitive thought patterns and areas to work on.
Soak it out
A hot bath before bed can work wonders for the mind and body. Add a scoop of magnesium-rich epsom salts to help relax aching muscles, and a few drops of lavender or eucalyptus essential oils to help create a calm, soothing experience. This little ritual needn’t take too long but can really help you to unwind before you hit the pillow.
Go in with Yin
Yin yoga is a great way to slow down a racing mind and calm the parasympathetic nervous system, helping to set you up for a restful night’s sleep. Each pose is held passively for 2-5 minutes, which gives your muscles a chance to relax as you observe the physical sensations and your breath. We love this simple, quick bedtime sequence by Do You Yoga.