Is it ever too late to make a healthy habit? Not in our book. Taking a page out of the school term diary, a new season and new academic year can serve as the ideal opportunity to take stock and take up something new - but rather than a resolution, let’s call it re-prioritisation. We’ve all made (and broken) a New Year’s resolution, but making your physical and mental health a priority doesn’t need to have a beginning or an expiration date, as more often than not it can be relegated to the bottom of the to-do list as the year draws on.
So forget, ‘New Year, new you’, this is about helping putting yourself first irrespective of the month, to better boost body and mind to make the most of life. Making a change can prove overwhelming though - where do we start? Keep it small, simple and specific, advises Clinical Hypnotherapist Terrence the Teacher . Here are his top tips for creating the most solid of foundations.
Step 1: how to make the habit
Focus on what you DO want (the new habit or way of being): “Not on what you don't want (the old habit). Time spent thinking about an old habit will only keep it embedded in the mind.”
Repetition, repetition, repetition: “Use visualisation to really compound the new habit in your subconscious.”
Be mindful: “Notice the cue for the old habit and observe it at source without responding. Then step into the new habit by choice.”
Reward yourself: “As most habits are created around a reward at the end of the action, it would really help to stay focused on the positive reward for this new habit.”
Tell your friends: “By sharing your decision to change with people close to you, it creates a support system.”
Step 2: how to make the habit stick
Clear your mind: “Be 100% clear about why you are creating this new habit.”
Manage expectations: “Make sure you are emotionally, mentally and physically ready to change.”
Be realistic: “Start with small and simple changes.”
Ditch the guilt: “Every day, start afresh. No matter what happened the day before.”
Keep focused: “Keep reminding yourself of the reason for changing.”
Every day, start afresh. No matter what happened the day before
Our healthy habit team picks
So what healthy habits will we be making to last this September and beyond? From upping our workouts to upping our water, new hobbies to new mindsets, we’ve planned to push ourselves out of our comfort zones with a wide spectrum of challenges.
How long will we have? 60 days, because according to a study from UCL , this is how long it approximately takes to make a new habit stick. “Researchers from our department have done a more rigorous and valid study of habit formation (Lally, van Jaarsveld, Potts, & Wardle, 2010),” they reported. “Participants performed a self-chosen health-promoting dietary or activity behaviour (e.g. drinking a glass of water) in response to a once-daily cue (e.g. after breakfast), and gave daily self-reports of how automatic (i.e. habitual) the behaviour felt. Participants were tracked for 84 days. Automaticity typically developed in a distinct pattern: initial repetitions of the behaviour led to quite large increases in automaticity, but these increases then reduced in size the more often the behaviour was repeated, until automaticity plateaued. Assumed that the point, at which automaticity is highest, is also the point when the habit has formed, it took, on average, 66 days for the habit to form.” Variations should be expected though depending on the chosen behaviour.
We’ll be providing progress reports in 30 days’ time and then finally, after 60 days. The tasks the team has chosen vary considerably, ranging from the daily to put the above new research to the test, to the weekly to best suit the goal. Here’s what we’ll be hoping to achieve:
Victoria Woodhall, Deputy Editor
Healthy habit: to have a daily meditation practice
“As a seasoned yogi (I’ve been practising for 16 years) I feel I really should have nailed this habit by now - after all, the original yoga postures were designed to help us sit in meditation without being distracted by a creaky body (it’s only in the last century that the more athletic poses that we know today have come about). I know the clarity and calm will benefit me managing my two jobs, two children and mental lists galore to help me make sure that everyone is where they should be with the right kit. Plus there’s so much research on the health benefits of meditation, it really is a no-brainer (pardon the pun). For me, yoga, especially dynamic yoga, has always been a way of calming the mind by being in the moment with breath and movement. But sitting still allowing the mind to settle has eluded me, unless it’s in a class environment. For sure I have the fidget gene. I have read countless books on meditation (I know it’s not about making the mind go blank), I have done a fair few sessions with teachers, I’ve downloaded meditation apps - so I’m nothing if not prepared. But what I haven’t yet managed is making it a self-practice habit. The only way this will work for me is in the early mornings - already my busiest time making breakfasts, lunch boxes, doing school runs and getting myself on my bike to work. So it’s a 6am start me from now on. I will let you know how I get on.”
Gemma Painter, Digital Marketing Manager
Healthy habit: to go to the gym three times a week
“My aim is to go to the gym a minimum of three times a week. Having gone from not going to the gym at all for many (many) years to going two times a week, every week, in just a few months, is big progress for me - but it’s not enough. Kayla (Itsines) - says with her program that I should be going three times a week (at least!) and for me, it seems three times a week is the norm to ensure a good level of fitness and to be able to achieve any noticeable weight loss. It’s just that life gets in the way. As do those pesky mind games I play with myself - ‘I can’t go, I’m too tired’, ‘Too hungry’, ‘I have things to do’, ‘I have to work’, ‘I don’t want to be late home’, ‘I don’t feel well’, and so on… - so this September I am going to do what I have been promising myself to do for several months.
I am not going to feel bad about all the times I should be saying ‘We should meet up’ to my friends, because I constantly think like that, and this month I am doing something for myself, my body and my health - and I am going for it. What’s more, everyone is so busy all the time, they won’t even notice that I have disappeared. It will very quickly be October and I will have completed four full weeks in the gym and be feeling amazing about myself and hopefully, it will have found its way into my weekly routine. I can guarantee one thing I won’t be doing though - I won’t be posting my three trips to the gym a week on social media. This is just for me. No-one else. I look forward to the results.”
Ayesha Muttucumaru, Senior Features Writer
Healthy habit: to learn how to ride a bike
“Say hello to my secret shame - I’m 30 and still have no idea how to ride a bike. To be honest, I find the physics behind the whole thing quite frankly, baffling and with these basics of balance unbeknown to me since a young age, I’ve clumsily navigated my way through life thus far essentially one trip up - and cab trip - at a time. The Tube map has had to become my handlebar, my Oyster Card - my bell and Uber, my saddle leaving my bank account in need of a long awaited MOT. The phrase, ‘It’s like riding a bike!’ is completely lost on me. Things have to change.
So therefore to save some money, incorporate some daily exercise and fresh air into my day and gain a greater understanding of the gyroscopic precession, lateral ground-reaction forces and inertial reactions involved (totally just Googled that), I’m making it my mission to finally learn and take my London wanderings from Underground to overground. Wish me luck - I have my helmet at the ready...”
Judy Johnson, Online Editor
Healthy habit: to do something creative once a week
“Last week I went to a local life drawing class after work and sketched and drew a woman for two hours straight, for the first time in 12 years. I’ve always been creative, taking art (including life drawing), English and photography at college before studying journalism and photography at university, but aside from the odd half-hearted blog post and of course my part-creative job here at Get The Gloss, it’s been so long since I’ve exercised that muscle that I was scared I’d forgotten how to hold my charcoal. But remember I did, and the class made me realise how much I miss having a regular creative outlet of my own; I had a full two hours of not thinking about work, worries or what I’m doing other than focusing on where the next stroke should be - my mind felt clear for the first time in weeks and I felt uplifted by the (albeit small) achievement throughout the next day.
I have hundreds of opening lines saved in Evernote for that novel that I want to write one day, and my passable sketches from the life drawing session left me desperate to book in again, but I know what I’m like - I’ll say this, and months will pass before I do something about it. So I’m taking this challenge to make it a weekly habit to do something, anything creative, that’s just for me - whether it’s trying something new (I’ve spotted a pottery class on Yplan that I’m sure I’ll be terrible at, but so what?) or finally starting to write that fiction I’ve got floating around my mind. ‘One day’ starts here…”
‘One day’ starts here…
Anna Hunter, Senior Features Writer
Healthy habit: to join a choir
“I’ve always loved singing in the relative privacy of my own home/shower/car, but haven’t really let loose in public since my primary school days. After the age of about 11, an element of stage fright set in, plus choir was no longer cool, so that was that.
I have thought about seeking out a singing group now that I’m older, wiser and over the teenage angst, but a lot of the choirs I’ve come across have been religious or just not my vibe, and with so many events and launches happening after work, the incentive wasn’t really there to carve out the time for something I wasn’t totally down with. That was until I went to see Backyard Cinema’s live screening of Baz Luhrman’s Romeo+Juliet with a live choir, and totally lost it, in a good way. Maybe it was the rendition of When Dove’s Cry, maybe it was Leo’s imploring cry face, maybe it was the heightened emotion of experiencing the whole thing in a candlelit church, but I was a goner. I did a bit of research afterwards, and came across the group responsible for my goosebumps/snivelling: Some Voices . Set up as an alternative to religious and classical singing groups, the choir aims to celebrate every kind of voice and doesn’t audition members to join, which neatly skirts around the initial stage fright business. The group has gone from 6 to 500 members in just six years, so clearly I’m not the only one craving a bit of a vocal release, and winter term rehearsals start next week. Wish me luck - this back to school thing got real.”
Sarah McGinnis, Art Editor
Healthy habit: to practice greater gratefulness
“I luckily spent a couple of months out in India and Sri Lanka this summer with my life in a backpack, a lack of wifi and minimal stresses (other than whether or not a 10p bus would actually get me somewhere safely!) There’s nothing quite like taking a step back from the stress of everyday life to really appreciate and be grateful for the good things. We often focus on the negatives of every day (me especially), whether it’s the dark rainy mornings, getting a jam packed train at 6.30am or the stress of a busy day at work. I am going to try to ensure a more positive mental attitude, focus on what makes me happy and try to take a step back and be grateful for what I have achieved, or what I have, however small that may be. That might mean grabbing a quick exercise class before work to mentally set me up for the day (and losing my holiday belly!), leaving the office environment a little early after a busy week (sorry Sus!) to do some yoga or just popping a candle on and spending some quality downtime in the evenings. I feel constantly stressed in London and it's important for me to bring a little bit of my Indian summer to the forefront of my mind.”
Lorna Patrick, Marketing Assistant
Healthy habit: to drink at least 6 glasses of water a day
“You would think that doing something as simple as drinking enough water every day wouldn’t be too much trouble right? Wrong. I’m incredibly forgetful in the drinking department and it’s something I’ve struggled with for far too long. I’m not sure why and I’m definitely not making up for it with unhealthy drinks. I don’t like fizzy drinks, I rarely drink juice or tea and so water is generally my go-to (apart from an occasional almond milk latte and a few glasses of wine some evenings) as I do actually enjoy drinking it. I just seem to have a bit of a mental block when it comes to actually drinking it…
I've got dry and dehydrated skin and it’s time that I finally sorted it out by hydrating from the inside and not just slapping on all of the hydration boosting beauty products I can find. The NHS recommends 6 to 8 glasses a day, so I'll start with 6 and see if I can eventually work my way up to 8. No excuses this time, day one of hydration starts here…”
Susannah Taylor, Editor-in-Chief
Healthy habit: Stop wasting time on social media
"Recently I have begun to really dislike elements of social media. I run a digital platform, how can I dislike it when much of our business depends on it? I understand we need it for work, and I understand that for many people (like us), tweeting, vlogging, swiping, posting, liking and Facebooking IS work, but personally I feel the world has recently gone completely stark raving social media nuts. It's a double edged sword - on the one hand we use social media proactively to promote our businesses to the world without the need for marketing managers, but on the other we are staring at random people's social feeds, peering into the lives of people we hardly know and zoning out, lost in cyberland for hours at a time. This is the bit I have a problem with. The New York Times stated earlier this year that the amount of time an average person spends on Facebook every day is 50 minutes (this includes Facebook, messenger and Instagram platforms, not even WhatsApp). That's nearly one whole hour every day. Apparently we are also spending up to two hours glued to social media platforms each evening, mostly from our beds. If you are reading this beneath your duvet, then don't panic, you’re not alone. I asked my team if they spent hours scrolling the internet in the twilight hours and they concurred. The scariest thing however is that this is now the norm - we don’t even know we're doing it.
Other things slightly making my skin crawl about social media of late are recent stats that young girls are unhappier than ever largely because of it. I have a 9 year old girl and the prospect of cyber bulling terrifies me. Oh and then there’s the arrival of Instagram Stories, a new, continuous film/photo feed set up to rival Snapchat where you can create a story of your day. People are posting up their every move and writing ’Walking to work’, ‘Kale salad’ and ‘Night night’ written across their often mundane images. I find this total insanity.
'But you post pictures up of yourself on Instagram!’ I hear you cry. Yes I do, which is partly a brand building exercise, partly because I love creating images, but I just feel that things like Instagram Stories are oversharing on steroids. And while I don't spend two hours a night on social media in bed (I think my husband, a social media refusenik would divorce me if I did), I do have a habit of browsing Instagram and Facebook whenever I have a spare minute during the day (on the bus, on the train, before a meeting, even walking down the street) and this is the part I need to stop. It’s a mindless habit I do without batting an eyelid. I’m beginning to think we are wasting precious minutes and hours of our lives scrolling other people's lives. Imagine what we could do if we clawed back that time in the day? The books we could read with our kids, the work ideas we could mastermind, the good times we could have under a duvet instead of looking at a 2x4” screen. Plus my brain needs to rest - it’s bombarded, tired, stressed, needs a break from people like Millie Mackintosh lording it up on a car bonnet at her friend’s wedding. With most people checking into social media apparently 17 times a day, my challenge for the next few months is to curb my social media habit - to stop getting sucked into it. I’ll be checking it for work because I have to but won't be checking into Facebook every time I get a lull in the day. Someone said 'Life is what happens whilst you are looking at your mobile phone’, sadly I feel I’m about to find this to be true."
Gemma Bellman, Managing Director
Healthy habit: walking at every opportunity
“Like for many of us, living the rat race in the big smoke means being pushed for time, ducking and diving to avoid the downpours and generally looking for the quickest and easiest route to wherever is next on the busy schedule of life. In recent months, a longer commute to work has meant my usual gym regime has been thrown spectacularly out of the window and I’m now feeling the effects of moving less. These include lower energy levels, a worsening diet (I always seem to reward myself with healthier foods after a good workout), poor sleeping patterns and, unsurprisingly, significantly softer thighs! So, in a bid to get back on track, without losing too much time in my day or carting gym kits across London I’ve decided to make walking my new favourite thing.
In order to work my walks seamlessly into my day I’ve decided to make it my habit to get off at least one stop early on the tube to and from work each day, walk to engagements wherever I can, and supplement this with evening walks with my husband in our local park (always helps to have someone else onboard)! I know this will get harder as the days get shorter and the autumn clouds roll in but I am determined to make this part of my new life of moving more, feeling fresher and (hopefully) looking better too!”