Our daily routines create a sense of comfort and security — we know exactly what to expect when, where, what and how. In the world's current state of insecurity and uncertainty, this feeling of control becomes more important than ever.
Our routines reinforce our habits, and many of these are positive for our health and well-being. But sometimes, our recurring actions and decisions hide habits that are not so beneficial. In this new normal, we may have welcomed habits that could be difficult to break, choosing the sofa over an afternoon stroll, or grabbing a candy bar to keep ourselves going — even though we know that the apple would be healthier.
How can you prevent these new routines from becoming lasting negative habits?
The idea that it takes 21 days to form a habit idea was introduced in the 1960s by surgeon Dr. Maxwell Maltz. The concept: if people practiced self-affirmations and positive behaviors for 21 days, those healthy actions would become habitual, second nature. Most of us have been experiencing some kind of restrictions for over 21 days, and we may not realize how we've formed new habits until we try to return to a more “normal” way of life.
Here are 4 helpful tips to get you through 21 days of new habit forming to make a positive contribution to your everyday life and health.
Tip #1 Start the day with an alarm clock — not your phone
The smartphone is our daily companion. It has become our alarm clock and automatically gets our immediate attention upon waking. It’s all too easy to turn off the alarm and get caught up in news and social media channels. Just 5 minutes after waking up, you might be dealing with questions such as “What do others want from me?” and “What did I miss?”.
The alternative: Taking it back to the 90s, when life was simpler. Switch your phone for a more traditional alarm clock, and leave your devices to charge overnight downstairs. Use the first half hour of the day focused on your own thoughts and needs. You want to give space for your personal sense of calmness and ability to cope, so you can start your day refreshed and ready. Bonus points if the alarm is far away enough that you must physically get out of bed to turn it off.
Tip #2 Add a healthy breakfast to your morning routine
We all know it – a healthy breakfast filled with fruits, whole grains and protein replenishes your supply of glucose to boost your energy levels and alertness. Whether you consider yourself a "breakfast person" or not, the fact remains — choosing the right foods in the morning is extremely important to jump start your day and sustain you through the hours working at home.
Tip #3 Schedule movement and outdoor time
While confined to our own four walls for extended periods, it can be hard to stay alert and focused. Instead of another cup of coffee, break up your day with some light stretches or yoga.
Without a daily commute, you have time for a 30-minute jog or walk around the neighborhood. The benefits of being among nature outdoors are never-ending. Try to get outside and enjoy some fresh air — even if it’s just drinking your coffee outside or enjoying a picnic in your backyard. Leave your phone inside, and enjoy the sound of the birds or your children playing.
Tip #4 Take regular breaks, without guilt
Your lunch break is fast approaching, and you haven’t finished that one last thing for your project, so you hurriedly grab a snack and work through your lunch break. This has always been the case wherever we are working, and it quickly becomes a bad habit of snacking between “clicks” on the computer.
Our working lives are a marathon, not a sprint. When we work without breaks, we lack the energy needed to make it through the day productively. Schedule breaks in your calendar for 10-20 minutes in the morning and again in the afternoon. Get up, clear your mind, stretch or go outside, but especially – get up from your computer and take a break. Look away from the screen!
Brunel is here for you with more top tips you can access on our blog page here. And if you are in the process of updating your resume or improving your LinkedIn profile, connect with one of our Recruitment Consultants. We’ll load your profile into our database so that we can quickly find and submit you when the right vacancy comes in.