Five Ways to Start and Maintain Good Habits for Highly Sensitive People
Updated: a day ago
You know you need to look after your body, but it can be hard to find time, right?
If you’re stressed or anywhere on the spectrum of adrenal burnout, diet and restorative exercise will be two of the mainstays of your recovery/survival.
But too often you get caught in a negative cycle. Too stressed to think, plan and make decisions about what to eat and how best to take care of yourself. Too tired to follow through on new habits.
It can be tempting to think that you can fix it all with a course or retreat, but too often, you go away, feel great and then fall into the same habits again.
I’m not a particularly organised person though, in fact I have a brain deficit which means organisation is the first thing to go under stress.
I’ve had to learn step by step how to build good habits and strong routines into my life.
Not because they look pretty, and certainly not because it comes naturally to me.
I move mountains to make my good habits happen because the practices of yoga and eating well, along with good sleep and listening partnerships, absolutely make the difference between keeping my head above water and going under.
Self care is not a luxury in my life, it’s an absolute necessity.
So I know very well how tempting it is to fall off the wagon when you’re under pressure. But I also know how to avoid that happening.
And (here’s the secret) it’s a far cry from the cliched vision of the bossy, hardcore personal coach.
Five Ways to Start and Maintain Good Habits.
1. Know why you’re doing it and how it’s going to benefit you.
There’s no point starting anything “just because”. Feeling like you should isn’t going to get you far either. It’s important to be clear on what you need to work on or what areas you need support with.
I like Kundalini Yoga for this, because the Kriyas (sets of exercises) are all designed to have a particular effect. When I was burnt out two years ago, I found a gentle Kriya to restore the adrenals, and it really turned things around for me. It was hard to make time for it every day – it took up much of my son’s nursery time each morning – but I knew I was healing, and that helped me stay on track.
2. Tackle one thing at a time.
Sure, you’re feeling overweight, you’re exhausted, you don’t know what to do about your fighting kids and you’re living from the ready meals section of the supermarket. But that’s going to take time to set straight.
Build your new habit one step at a time. One meal at a time. One snack at a time. Start a 3 minute yoga practice. Eliminate one food that you know is causing problems (and find something yummy to have instead).
Get up ten minutes earlier and stare into space before the rabble emerges. Every step you take will help you feel more grounded and centred, which resources you to take the next step.
3. Get your Ducks in a Row
A new habit, especially where health is concerned, usually has a few moving parts. If you’re doing a yoga practice, you need to assemble your kit, make space in the house and your schedule, and figure out what you’re going to do. Food changes involve shopping, planning, possibly re-arranging your kitchen, and probably a bit of extra time to make new or different things, or pack snacks etc. You don’t have to have everything working instantly. It can take a few days or even weeks to have all the moving parts ready and that’s fine, as long as you keep making progress.
4. It doesn’t matter where you start.
Positive health changes will ALWAYS have a ripple effect on your life – improving focus, energy levels and overall sense of wellbeing – so in many ways it doesn’t matter where you begin, as long as you begin. Over time, the things which seem hard and challenging will seem less so, and as you feel better, you’ll have more vim and viv to work through the resistance.
5. Love yourself through resistance and Self Sabotage.
You know, I think that humans know how to be healthy and take care of ourselves. I think that we lose the habit bit by bit by being told that we aren’t ok, we’re bad, we’re wrong…. And somehow we stop listening to those little nudges. We get used to feeling like crap… and we do unloving things to ourselves to try and shove down the crapness (but really it just keeps it rolling). So the only way really to break this cycle is learning to be kind to ourselves.
I’m a middle path girl, really. I love to indulge. But as I’ve learned to love myself more and more – and break the cycle of negativity through Listening Partnerships in particular – I find I’m less and less drawn to habits which don’t nurture me. It's taken years of gently being aware of my body and my feelings to let certain addictions naturally fall away, but it has indeed been a natural process.