During the holiday season, when time is just a concept and we have the freedom to spend our days as we please, new habits start to creep in. There is flexibility in the day and typically a less rigid schedule. Kids can stay up that bit later because a sleep-in or lazy morning is on offer.
Settling back into the pre-holiday rhythm can be a challenge. Our brain likes what it knows, and will happily remain with the relaxed habits we have created because they do not require conscious thought. They are comfortable and familiar and, at the end of a long day, that is what we crave.
Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of eternal holiday mode. When concentration is waning and the spreadsheets are a jumble, Kiwiherb’s Ginkgo Alert can help to get the brain back into gear. Ginkgo is ideal for supporting mood, and memory, and keeping stress in check.
Forming brand-new habits can be just as tricky. There is a reason New Year’s resolutions fizzle out pretty quickly, and it hasn’t got much to do with willpower.
It takes an average of 66 days for habits to become an automatic process, but this is further varied by the individual personality, from 18 days for some to 254 days for others.1
The Right Time
Timing is an important factor in creating lifestyle habits.
If you have young children, then trying to start meditation at 6am might not work. Just like aiming to include a midday nap when you work 9-5 probably won’t fly. Choosing the right time of day is crucial, and it needs to be a time that you have some control over.
Ten minutes of quiet, focused calm after school drop off, or in the carpark before going into the office, can be enough to nurture a new habit. It might not be the yoga centre or a float machine, but it will allow the parasympathetic nervous system to reset. The positive reinforcement then increases the likelihood of the action being repeated.
Just as the timing has to be right, the routine needs to be realistic.
Frustration from ‘failing’ after setting an unrealistic goal is a sure-fire way to stamp out good intentions and increases the likelihood of not trying again. Vowing to dedicate an hour in the gym every day, when previous efforts involved walking to the letterbox, is a sure-fire way to fall at the first hurdle. There is nothing wrong with aiming high and setting goals, but small, regular change is the key to forming the habit. Once the routine is established, the intensity can grow.
Old Habit, New Routine
Attaching new behaviour to an existing habit is one way to make it stick.
When brushing your teeth in the morning, you are already participating in a well-established habit. Tying in a new habit directly afterwards, like flossing, increases the chances of it becoming part of the daily routine.
The activities don’t even have to relate to each other. It could be listening to a podcast every time you fold the laundry or doing ten simple stretches each time you boil the jug for a cup of tea. The repeated actions will start to become linked.
Missing the odd day or two of a new habit does not impact the overall outcome of routine forming either, according to recent studies. So, if it’s pouring with rain and you can’t muster an evening run, all is not lost.
Find Your Support Team
There is nothing like having a group of like-minded people in your corner to keep you on track. It is one of the most important factors in maintaining long-term change, and it makes sense. Routine is a lifestyle, so a change in routine is a change in how you live your life.
Social environments are one of the most influential factors on whether habits will be short or long-term. We have a tendency to mimic those we spend the most time with, so surrounding yourself with people who have similar habits increases the likelihood that it becomes routine. Seeing the success that others have achieved is also an excellent motivating factor.
Social expectation can also sway habit formation. There is a sense of accountability that comes with making commitments with other people that can help with forming new habits. If hill-sprints are considered a completely normal activity within the social group, then you are more likely to keep doing them. If you’ve sworn off alcohol after the holiday period, then you’re less inclined to reach for a glass of wine if everyone around you is having water.
Sleep On It
A good night’s sleep really changes everything. Anyone who has spent the night with a screaming baby knows that disturbed sleep impacts every person in the house.
Studies have shown that children who have set bedtime routines, not surprisingly, have a better sleep. When children sleep better, families sleep better, and commitment to new habits is more successful.1
If the transition from lazy days and long evenings is throwing out the bedtime schedule, Kiwiherb’s Sound Asleep is the perfect option for adults. With withania, passionflower, and skullcap, this blend nourishes the nervous system and supports sound sleep. For children, Kiwiherb’s Bedtime Bliss is ideal. With chamomile, withania, and hops, this formula gently encourages calm and sleep.