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Encountering Wellness Roadblocks?

Follow through on your healthy living goals this spring

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Encountering Wellness Roadblocks?

A healthy lifestyle is an accumulation of small actions that add up to vitality and longevity. Sometimes we know what changes we need to make in our lives but have a hard time getting around to doing them. And sometimes we know we need changes but aren’t clear about what to do. Here are some tips from a professional psychotherapist to help you clarify goals, stop procrastinating, and start thriving.

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Step 1: Specify your goals

“You can’t heal what you don’t acknowledge,” says Elenora Molnar, master therapeutic counsellor in Roberts Creek, BC, and a member in good standing of the Association of Cooperative Counselling Therapists of Canada.

“Some people want to stop emotional eating or snacking late at night, or stop being sedentary. Other people want to stop smoking pot chronically. One of the first things you must be aware of is what your specific habit is, and how exactly you want to change,” says Molnar.

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Step 2: Reflect on the goal

It’s helpful to understand why you developed the unhealthy habit in the first place, so you can replace it with a healthier habit that fulfills the same need, says Molnar. If your mornings are hectic because you look at your phone for an hour before getting out of bed, it may be because you want to delay the start of the day without having to think or problem-solve.

“Make a plan to start off your day without looking at your phone for one hour,” suggests Molnar. Instead of looking at social media, replace that time with a quick yoga video or walk around the neighbourhood. This gets your body active, while also letting your mind rest and gear up for the day.

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Replace a bad habit with a good one

“Start overriding your bad habits with new routines,” suggests Molnar. For example, if you want to start jogging, overwrite being sedentary in the evening by taking an easy jog at the same time you would usually be sitting down.

If you’re trying to stop eating junk food at night, instead of turning on the TV, work on a puzzle, read a book, or do any activity that you don’t associate with snacking. Start with small steps that slowly become your new habits.

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Be flexible

It’s great to have ambitious goals, but if you’re unrealistic at the beginning, you’ll have trouble meeting them. This can cause you to give up completely. “It’s great to have goals, but give yourself permission to say that goals can change. Always have a plan, but know you can change your plan,” says Molnar.

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Expect occasional roadblocks

When you have figured out exactly what change you would like to make in your life and made a concrete (but flexible) goal, getting started is usually the hardest part, even for a psychotherapist. “For me, getting to the gym sometime is the biggest challenge,” says Molnar, “but when I actually get there and I finish my workout, I realize that wasn’t so bad at all. Don’t get discouraged.”

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Step 3: Find a support group

Experts also say that one of the surest ways to keep with your physical or mental health goals is to find a support group of like-minded people looking to accomplish similar goals.

Explains Molnar, “When you’re in a group where everyone is focused on the same thing, it’s really powerful because you can be compassionately witnessed by those people. I’m thinking of therapy, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be therapy. It could be a running group or a gardening group.”

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Mini mindset reset

Finding it hard to keep going with your goals? Slipping back into your old habits? Get past procrastinating and make time in your day.

Procrastinator? 

Procrastination is the result of an intention-action gap. To work on overcoming this, you could try to make yourself work on one wellness habit per week. Start small, such as choosing fruit and oatmeal instead of a muffin in the morning. When this becomes routine, add another small change. Small habits accumulate into long-term benefits.

Feel there’s no time in your day? 

Life is busy; we get it. But no matter what you have going on with work, family, and life in general, you will be healthier and more functional if you carve out time for your own needs.

1.      Book it. Look at your calendar in advance and make an appointment with yourself.

2.      Use that time to take a walk, do yoga, meditate, or exercise.

3.      Once a month, take an hour for something pleasurable by yourself, such as a pedicure or a museum visit.

4.      Gently say no to requests during your “me time.”

5.      Don’t cancel. You’ll get back to life feeling more energized and everyone will benefit.

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Supplements for clarity and motivation

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Motivating action

L-theanine

has been shown to affect brain functions by relieving stress disorders, improving mood, and maintaining normal sleep

ginseng

studies suggest ginseng reduces inflammation and increases mental acuity

lion’s mane mushroom

animal studies suggest this mushroom can encourage nerve growth

Ginkgo biloba

possibly improves memory and thinking functions

probiotics

not only help treat various digestive problems but may also improve mood

 

This article was originally published in the March 2024 issue of alive magazine.

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