To move forward in your recovery from mental illness you need to be able to embrace change. This includes changing your thought processes as well as your behaviours. I don’t think I have ever met a client professionally who didn’t desire a change, however more often than not they were spending a great amount of their energys in the wrong areas. In this article we shall look at the right way to view change and how to integrate change into your life.
The first thing you need to understand about change is that we all have a limited amount of energy. With that energy we do everything from eating, drinking, socialising and everything else that is involved in our day to day routine. These everyday interactions and routines deplete our stores. For change to come into reality we need to make sure we have spare energy available.
We have all experienced the New Year tradition where on January the 1st we are filled with the determination to lose weight, become healthier and a whole host of other things. Start crash diets and get that gym pass. The first week we manage this really well but more often than not by week three the gym pass is lost in a drawer somewhere and the one treat day a week has multiplied. The reason for this is people use the 100% approach. They put all their efforts into changing which is an unrealistic plan to stick to week in and week out and it ultimately fails.
On average it takes two to eight months for a new habit to form. A habit means when an action or behaviour becomes second nature and you don’t need to consciously remind yourself to do it. As you can see from the example above when changing we rarely give ourselves the time needed to really let a new habit develop. Take the time now to think back to all the changes you have tried to implement which havn’t come into fruition.
So instead try the 5% approach. This approach is all about sustaining change. Firstly it is important to target the right area of yourself. It would be impossible to change everything all at once so you need to place your attention on the important issues first. Once you have one or two areas you want to be different you need to set a plan that not only is realistic but also integrates into you routine and life style.
Using the examples above with the 5% when you decide you need to get healthier you might simply plan to walk the dog twice around the block daily rather than your usual once. This is a realistic goal that you would be able to stick too and would integrate into your life and create long term success. If you wanted to lose weight you might plan to eat the same food but a smaller amount by buying a smaller plate and bowl. This again is a realistic way to integrate dieting into you life. This kind of change isn’t a quick fix but is the key to your long term success.
Make sure to review how you are succeeding with your goals periodically. This allows you time to hone your newly developed skills and pick yourself up if your new habits are slipping.
Lastly. Make sure to start today. Change will not happen unless you put in the steps and energy to see it come into fruition. What goals are you going to set yourself today?
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