By Stephanie Simons,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire
Every year, many of us make resolutions to better ourselves. These resolutions can be about almost anything: weight, health, family and friends. Although our intentions are good, many of us fail in these promises to ourselves, whether immediately or somewhere down the road.
I want to share some tips and thoughts with you about how we can develop healthy habits, and the science behind maintaining those habits. Armed with this knowledge, we can be more confident about the goals we set for the coming year.
A habit is defined as an action that is automatic because it has been performed many times over. By making a habit of healthy practises, we can make them an integral part of our everyday lives, performed easily and without complaint. It takes practise to get there, but making healthy habits can greatly improve your quality of living and reduce stress about trying to be “good”.
One method for getting yourself to stick to a commitment you have made is the idea of a habit “chain”, popularised by popular American comedian, Jerry Seinfeld, who explained that for every day he accomplished a writing goal, he put a big red ‘x’ over the day in the calendar. After a number of successful days, you begin to form a ‘chain’ and this is a motivating factor to keep up the good efforts. Failure to keep your commitment will result in a break in the chain and you will have to start again. While extremely simple, it is nevertheless very effective.
Examples of small healthy habits you can start doing this with include taking a multivitamin each day, such as Centrum, One-A-Day or Rainbow Light, or applying sunblock or a moisturiser with SPF, like Neutrogena Healthy Skin. Many women may find it useful to get into the habit of more thoroughly removing their make-up at night, as part of their bedtime routine, and can make it easier by using Neutrogena or Simple make-up remover wipes.
Some people find it useful to picture the chain of their activities by using a calendar with stickers or a pen, like Seinfeld, but there are also a number of apps, such as Habit Chain, which will let you keep track of your habit keeping wherever you are and can even provide reminders. If you are trying to be better about taking pills, you can invest in a weekly pill organiser, available at Lindo’s.
Another way to motivate yourself into keeping up a healthy habit is to reward yourself. Set up a reward scheme whereby for every week or month you manage to keep your commitment to yourself you will treat yourself. However, ensure that this treat doesn’t contravene your resolution goals, so don’t reward a week of eating sensibly by eating something unhealthy. Instead, try a massage or going to see a movie you’ve been looking forward to.
Visualise what you want to achieve in the new year. If you need to improve your overall wellbeing, a small and attainable goal is to make sure you get all the nutrition that you need. This can be as simple as making sure that you take a multivitamin every morning and eat at least three pieces of fruit or vegetable a day.
The most important thing to remember when setting yourself new year’s resolutions is to ensure that they are realistic. If you currently don’t do any exercise, don’t vow to make it to the gym five times a week in January. It is too much too quickly and can even lead to a burnout. Instead, commit to walking more, going to the gym twice a week or taking a fitness class once a week.
The beginning of the year is a great place to start making lifestyle changes. Think of it as a blank slate and a time to start anew.
Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.