Establishing a mindful habit
This past week has been tricky. Not only did I have to look after the boys on my own for a couple of days, but we had a bout of chicken pox thrown into the mix. Poorly children are more easily irritated and tired (who can blame them!) leading to potentially more tantrums, and more exhaustion for parents.
I realised too at the end of the week, that all the good habits I’d put into place – the 10 minutes mindful meditation a day, the twice daily 3-minute breathing space and my healthy eating kick had all slid without me realising.
Not feeling too healthy myself I’m becoming irritable and short on patience. Mindfulness is something that needs to be practised regularly for it to have an effect. I knew this and whole-heartedly agreed. Yet though I was thinking about being mindful, I wasn’t actively practising as I had been previously. I was finding excuses not to sit for 10 minutes and do a mindful meditation. “I’m too tired, I’m too busy, I don’t feel well”. Exactly the sorts of excuses I’d been making others aware of since beginning this blog!
Part of my mindfulness lapse is because I’d completed my 8-week mindfulness course. Each day for 8-weeks, I had a set mindful task to do and I did my damnedest to do it! At the end of the course, you’re encouraged to think about how to take your mindful practice forwards for the future. I hadn’t done this. I hadn’t set myself a daily goal and I think this was part of the reason I’d let it slide. I was being mindful whenever I could – using the breathing exercises to help me deal with difficult or stressful situations, taking a mindful pause before reacting. But I wasn’t being proactive in giving myself a mindful break each day.
That got me thinking about habits. It takes 66 days for a habit to become ingrained. Not only does it take time, but commitment and the knowledge of what it is you want to achieve. So, with this in mind, here are some ways to set yourself up for mindful success.
3 tips to establish and stick to your mindful habit
1. Focus on establishing one habit at a time
This will make your life much simpler. Decide to do something easy, or start small. Setting yourself difficult or unachievable targets can only lead to frustration and disappointment when you fail to achieve them. Decide on the behaviour you want to become routine.
Make it easy so you can’t say no –Leo Babauta
Mine is to re-establish my 10 minutes daily mindful meditation using a guided meditation to get back into it. Just 10 minutes a day. That wasn’t too difficult for me to find originally, so it shouldn’t be again. There are a number of guided meditations I can pick from. I’m going to choose a guided ‘mindfulness of the breath’ meditation for my first week of re-establishing this practice.
2. Pick a relevant time to practise your habit
My schedule is a bit all over the place. Some days my boys are out at school or playgroup. Some days I have Tiddler with me and we don’t have set plans (or I plan to have a ‘Tiddler day’ – a day where Tiddler and I do something fun, like going to the park, soft play or swimming to break up our routine). This past week, illness has interrupted our usual routine and we have Easter holidays coming up to further complicate matters.
Thinking about when I was completing my 8-week course, I’d meditate for 10 minutes either in the morning, between 9 and 10am, or in the evening after the boys had gone to bed. I preferred the morning, so have decided to make sure I do my mindful meditation between 9 and 10.30am. Giving myself a wider timeframe means I wouldn’t beat myself up for missing it should I need to do something like food shopping or getting the boys settled into an activity first.
A good tip is to perform your wanted behaviour along with another routine behaviour you do each day. This ‘piggy-backing’ will help you to remember to practise and before long the habit will become ingrained. So, if you wanted to be mindful at least once a day for example, think about mindfully brushing your teeth. You do this (hopefully) twice a day, so there’s two times daily when you can be mindful!
3. Commit to the habit
Tell others that you’ll be practising a new way of behaving. Writing down your goal / habit also makes it more tangible and motivating and is a concrete way of committing yourself to the behaviour. It can help make you more determined too. Perhaps tweet when you’ve completed your behaviour that day. It will make you feel good and you might get some motivational words from others too, keeping you on track.
My commitment is telling you, dear reader, about it! So here’s to re-establishing my mindful habit 🙂 What is your’s going to be?
Did you find it difficult to start your mindful habit and do you have any tips? Let us know below!