Habit Shifting
A Get-Started Journaling Exercise

by Jeanette Bronée

Habits are created because they support our daily life. Many tend only to think of their habits when they consider them “bad.” But habits can support us as well as harm us. Either way, habits become “mindless” actions because we have done them over and over.

Actually 95% of our daily actions and habits are unconscious, which essentially allows us to free our brain to think about other things. Take brushing your teeth: you don’t really think about the act of doing it, nor the fact that you have to. It is probably part of a daily ritual for you. Daily rituals are what we want to get in touch with here. Your goal is to create some that nurture and nourish you. ​

We tend to think that changing habits is easier than it is — that we should be able to “just do it.” It’s important to remember that what we’re trying to do is challenging: to change something that we normally don’t even think about. The thing about mindless habits and why they can seem hard to change is that they are mindless, which also makes them effortless. Changing them requires both effort and mindfulness.

Only 5% of our actions are conscious, which is why we so often get stuck, unable to change our habits even if we feel they aren’t working for us. You do have to shift these mindless actions into mindful choices to be able to support new habits. Your new habits automatically become mindless after they have been repeated several times, and they become new natural actions for you. So give yourself a bit of leeway here (read: compassion)!

JOURNALING: GET TO KNOW YOUR HABITS

ONE
Make a list or outline of what you do completely habitually and mindlessly every morning. Start with “swinging your legs over the edge of the bed, walking towards the…”

  • Just notice how many habits you “perform” without even thinking about them. There is nothing “wrong” with your habits; we aren’t judging, we are simply making a point of going from mindless to mindful by noticing and realizing how much we do on autopilot every day.

TWO
Habits to consider:

  • What are your basic morning habits and patterns?
  • What do you do first thing when you wake up?
  • What do you do next?
  • How much time do you spend with yourself getting emotionally and mentally ready for your day?
  • How much time do you spend getting physically ready and taking care of yourself to be in top shape for the day?
  • How ready do you feel for your day by the time you leave your home?

THREE
Which morning habits are automatic and therefore effortless but also mindless? Which of your habits are mindful and intentional choices?

  1. Choose one habit that is not working for you.
  2. Decide on a new habit to replace it, and
  3. Consider how to make that new habit fit into your morning routine.

FOUR
Try it for a few days to see how it feels.

  • When you are comfortable with that new habit, choose another one and do the same thing. Within one week only change one or two habits. Allow the new habit to become “natural” before adding another.

Jeanette Bronée, CHHC, is a nourishment expert and coach, founder of the Path for Life Self-Nourishment Center in New York City, and author of Eat to Feel Full. Her online 9-Step Path for Life Self-Nourishment Program incorporates her three essential principles for lasting personal transformation—food knowledge, mindfulness, and habit shifting. As a teacher and keynote speaker, she addresses the challenges we face in changing our habits and offers the tools we need to learn how to thrive in a busy world. Her goal is to empower her clients to take charge of their daily well-being, performance, and future health by changing their relationship with food.

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