Towards the end of December I, like many others, sat looking for motivation for my New Year’s resolutions. Amid scrolling through motivational quotes, ‘easy workouts’, healthy food and yoga inspiration, I came across an article on breaking bad habits.
Sitting down to read it I thought, here we go another myth to help me break my bad habits of sleeping late at night, not exercising enough etc. However the more I read the more intrigued I became. I realised if it only takes 23 days to break a bad habit it would also take 23 days to create a new habit. I found this to be a far more positive way of looking at my life and the areas I wanted to change.
I started by setting goals. To make my main goals achievable I set small targets within the goal to make sure that I would stay in track. With this plan set I started with my biggest hurdle…Late Nights! For a lot of people napping and going to sleep is easy. However this is something I have always struggled with. I have never been a morning person and have always struggled getting to sleep and waking up in the mornings. I was determined to change this.
‘The early bird always catches the worm’ I quote I always heard from my dad who has always laughed at my inability to get up early in a good mood. When I was looking for motivation to get up in the morning this phrase reappeared. I found that Apple CEO Tim Cook wakes up early to get a head start on the day. I liked this idea, waking up and working out became my first goal to kick-start my 23 day challenge. Below I have shown you 5 ways that helped me create my new habit of sleeping earlier!
FILL YOUR DAY
Small changes to my day began to make the world of difference. I stuck to set meal times and stopped eating dinner late at night. I kept my water levels high and made checklists for the day making sure I achieved the tasks I set for myself. Filling my day with different things made me feel positive. I was able to relax in the evening knowing what I had completed during the day. Filling my day also made me realise how tired I was therefore it became easier to get into bed and rest knowing what I needed to achieve the next day.
Although this may be obvious to most it is something I’ve only recently learnt and put into action. I’m sure you will have heard the phrase, ‘a tidy room equals a tidy mind’. I have always been known to have a massive floor-drobe, leaving clothes and work around my room, strewn over the bed and the chair I worked on. However now that I have been waking up early I have had time to make my bed and make sure everything is in its set place. This has meant I have been far less distracted when working in my room instead I have felt calm and positive. Cleaning my room before I go to sleep is also rewarding as it helps me organise myself for the next morning; laying out clothes, getting my gym kit together and work ready had made mornings far less rushed and stressful and has allowed me to do things and a much better pace.
Improving exercise was another goal I set for myself. Only a week into my 23 day challenge I began to notice the changes in my body and health. Exercising early in the morning made me feel I could achieve more in the day. I felt more awake and excited to try more. Exercising can be daunting, however setting small goals can really build confidence. Exercising at home is always an option or going to the gym with your partner or friend is always good fun. Make sure you are comfortable and know what your goal for the day is. Make working out fun; try different classes and new exercises so you look forward to it and feel great! Exercising really helped me take control of my bad sleeping habits, feeling tired from an early workout and a full day really had an impact on me and I was able to get into bed earlier feeling exhausted but positive and excited for the next morning.
I have always been fairly healthy and enjoy cooking. For my 23 days challenge I decided I wanted to improve this. By eating smaller portions and avoiding foods that slowed me down or were unhealthier I slowly began to feel much better about myself. I looked for healthier alternatives to my favourite junkie snacks and have noticed the benefits to both my body and mind. I have always allowed myself the occasional chocolate and few cocktails, but I believe in balance and everything in moderation. I believe that trying to be healthier has helped my body and sleep as I have stuck to set meal times trying to eat earlier and allowing my food to digest before going to sleep.
In my quest for more sleep, I realised the key was to rest. You make think it silly that I hadn’t realised this sooner. However rest and sleep are very different. Allowing yourself 10 minutes in a day to switch off is incredibly helpful. Whether you choose yoga, listening to music, sitting quietly or going for a walk, giving yourself space is so important. Letting your brain to relax and not worry about that unchecked email, or the fast approaching deadline or anything that is bearing a lot of stress is key. It means that when you do get into bed your brain doesn’t have to spend time trying to settle, you’ve given it space in the day making it much easier to get to sleep.
YOU CAN DO IT
For a lot of people breaking a bad habit can be difficult and just as you think you’ve done it, you slip back into your old ways. I found creating the 23 day challenge achievable. Pushing yourself to stick to something for 23 days, or 3 weeks and 2 days however you want to look at it, makes achieving those repeated New Year’s resolutions achievable!
Setting myself the goal of sleeping earlier allowed me to improve other aspects of my life without targeting them directly. I have stuck to my challenge and now rather than going to bed at 2am and waking up feeling grumpy, tired and lack lustre, I aim to be in bed and sleep before 10pm each night. I wake up before 7am fit in my workout, followed by a healthy breakfast. I achieve my goals for the day and allow myself time to relax, hang out with friends and spend time doing the things I enjoy. When I go to bed I feel positive knowing that I have worked hard and achieved what I set out to do.
Give it a go! Set your targets and goals write them down and put markers on your calendar. Do whatever it takes and prove to yourself you can do it! If I can do it, so can you! #23daychallenge