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Spring Into Shape In Seven Fun Steps

Spring Into Shape In Seven Fun Steps

Ah, spring. Even if your doorstep is still under a foot of snow, more pleasant weather is on the way and there’s no better time to spring into shape and adopt a new, active lifestyle.

It doesn’t really matter where you live, what your age is, or whether you’re single and uncommitted or married with kids, most – if not all – of these tips are achievable for everyone. Just think how much better you could feel by the time summer rolls around if you’ve found the courage to jump into completely different pursuits that will lead to a healthier, happier life.

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1. Find Fitness That’s Fun

Bored with your current exercise routine? Can’t find enough time, or perhaps motivation, to get in shape? Don’t work out at all? The solution could be trying something completely different, from boxercise or military-style fitness classes to hot yoga, aqua-fitness or even ping pong. Is there a new fitness activity you could try with your partner or children, such as learning to sail as a family? Or perhaps finding a running club or getting a friend to join you in training for a long-distance biking event? The more people you rope in, the better your chances of sticking with an exercise regime you actually enjoy.

2. Try A New Hobby

Sure, you could take up tennis, return to a childhood love of dance or join a team sport, but hobbies don’t have to involve physical fitness to benefit your health. The mental stimulation of taking a writing class, learning a new skill such as needlework or even just doing a daily crossword puzzle could improve your cognitive agility and generally boost your mood. The social benefits of interacting with new people also shouldn’t be overlooked, whether you do this through a workshop or volunteering with a local charity.

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3. Get A Pet

The positive effects of having a pet are well documented. If you get a dog in particular, you’ll be forced to get out and exercise even if you otherwise would find an excuse not to. Plus, pets can encourage owners in other unexpected ways: once you are responsible for feeding another creature, you realize how important a healthy diet is – for people and for pets. Caring for someone else can hold up a mirror on your behavior: pets and people should have preventative health checks and treatments, if necessary. If nothing else, dogs make an excellent, non-judgmental companion when you just need some company.

4. Walk!

Dog or no, going for a walk is the perfect tonic for anything that ails you. A walk can clear your head, focus your thoughts, aid creativity and wake you up, all while burning calories as a low-impact cardiovascular workout. Walking is environmentally friendly, too, and puts you in touch with nature and the changes in the seasons, even if you never leave pavement. You might be surprised how far you can stroll once you get the hang of it. Soon you’ll be looking for new walking routes everywhere you go, and you might even encourage a friend (either the two- or four-legged variety).

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5. Get Growing

Spring is all about new starts and new life, so why not get in the vibe by planting something? Flowers or herbs in a windowsill or window box, or something more ambitious, such as a fruit tree, a pot of tomatoes or even a whole vegetable patch. Don’t worry if you’re a novice: there are countless websites to help everyone from green-fingered experts to the first-time gardener. Anyway, what’s the worst that can happen? You don’t need to make a huge investment – seeds and small plants are cheap, as is soil (if you even need to buy it) and many household items can be used as starter pots (such as egg boxes) and other supplies (freezer bags for covering seedlings on a window sill, for instance). Best case scenario, you have a wholesome new hobby that feeds you, too.

6. Investigate Your Food

Have you ever visited a farmers’ market or shop, garden center, orchard or pick-your-own fruit farm? Nothing tastes better than produce fresh from the tree or field, especially if you can find out more about how it’s been grown and if it has any particular health benefits. The grower might not always know these things, but it’s still good to talk to the folks who produce what we eat, not least because it enhances our understanding of where and how our food is made. You might also try something new or pick up recipe ideas that will help you stick to a well-balanced diet.

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7. Appreciate What’s Around You

Is there a nearby park you’re vaguely aware of but have never actually set foot in? A wildlife reserve where you or your children can go along to learn about migrating birds, bats’ feeding patterns, the importance of bees or the life cycle of amphibians? Or just a lovely lake, woods or field that’s open to the public? Spring is possibly the best time to get outdoors and explore, or rekindle a love of nature. Do a little investigating to find out what green spaces could help you rejuvenate after a long, tiresome winter.

Featured photo credit: Clemens v. Vogelsang via Flickr Creative Commons

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Last Updated on November 9, 2020

10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

Bad habits expose us to suffering that is entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, breaking bad habits is difficult because they are 100% dependent on our mental and emotional state.

Anything we do that can prove harmful to us is a bad habit – drinking, drugs, smoking, procrastination, poor communication are all examples of bad habits. These habits have negative effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health.

Humans are hardwired to respond to stimuli and to expect a consequence of any action. This is how habits are acquired: the brain expects to be rewarded a certain way under certain circumstances. How you initially responded to certain stimuli is how your brain will always remind you to behave when the same stimuli are experienced.

If you visited the bar close to your office with colleagues every Friday, your brain will learn to send you a signal to stop there even when you are alone and eventually not just on Fridays. It will expect the reward of a drink after work every day, which can potentially lead to a drinking problem.

Kicking negative behavior patterns and steering clear of them requires a lot of willpower, and there are many reasons why breaking bad habits is so difficult.

1. Lack of Awareness or Acceptance

Breaking a bad habit is not possible if the person who has it is not aware that it is a bad one.

Many people will not realize that their communication skills are poor or that their procrastination is affecting them negatively, or even that the drink they had as a nightcap has now increased to three.

Awareness brings acceptance. Unless a person realizes on their own that a habit is bad, or someone manages to convince them of the same, there is very little chance of the habit being kicked.

2. No Motivation

Going through a divorce, not being able to cope with academic pressure, and falling into debt are instances that can bring a profound sense of failure with them. A person going through these times can fall into a cycle of negative thinking where the world is against them and nothing they can do will ever help, so they stop trying altogether.

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This give-up attitude is a bad habit that just keeps coming around. Being in debt could make you feel like you are failing at maintaining your home, family, and life in general.

If you are looking to get out of a rut and feel motivated, take a look at this article: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It)

3. Underlying Psychological Conditions

Psychological conditions such as depression and ADD can make it difficult to start breaking bad habits.

A depressed person may find it difficult to summon the energy to cook a healthy meal, resulting in food being ordered in or consumption of packaged foods. This could lead to a habit that adversely affects health and is difficult to overcome.

A person with ADD may start to clean their house but get distracted soon after, leaving the task incomplete, eventually leading to a state where it is acceptable to live in a house that is untidy and dirty.

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is very real to some people. Obsessively checking their social media and news sources, they may believe that not knowing of something as soon as it is published can be catastrophic to their social standing.

4. Bad Habits Make Us Feel Good

One of the reasons it is difficult to break habits is that a lot of them make us feel good.[1]

We’ve all been there – the craving for a tub of ice cream after a breakup or a casual drag on a joint, never to be repeated until we miss how good it made us feel. We succumb to the craving for the pleasure felt while indulging in it, cementing it as a habit even while we are aware it isn’t good for us.

Overeating is a very common bad habit. Just another pack of chips, a couple of candies, a large soda… none of these are necessary for survival. We want them because they give us comfort. They’re familiar, they taste good, and we don’t even notice when we progress from just one extra slice of pizza to four.

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You can read this article to learn more: We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why?

5. Upward Comparisons

Comparisons are a bad habit that many of us have been exposed to since we were children. Parents might have compared us to siblings, teachers may have compared us to classmates, and bosses could compare us to past and present employees.

The people who have developed the bad habit of comparing themselves to others have been given incorrect yardsticks for measurement from the start.

These people will always find it difficult to break out of this bad habit because there will always be someone who has it better than they do: a better house, better car, better job, higher income and so on.

Research shows that in the age of social media, social comparisons are much easier and can ultimately harm self-esteem if scrolling becomes a bad habit[2].

6. No Alternative

This is a real and valid reason why breaking bad habits is difficult. These habits could fulfill a need that may not be met any other way.

Someone who has physical or psychological limitations, such as a disability or social anxiety, may find it hard to quit obsessive content consumption for better habits.

Alternately, a perfectly healthy person may be unable to quit smoking because alternates are just not working out.

Similarly, a person who bites their nails when anxious may be unable to relieve stress in any other socially accepted manner.

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7. Stress

As mentioned above, anything that stresses us out can lead to adopting and cementing an unhealthy habit.

When a person is stressed about something, it is easy for bad habits to form because the mental resources required to fight them are not available[3].

We often see a person who had previously managed to kick a bad habit fall back into the old ways because they felt their stress couldn’t be managed any other way.

If you need some help reducing stress, check out the following video for some healthy ways to get started:

8. Sense of Failure

People looking to kick bad habits may feel a strong sense of failure because it’s just that difficult.

Dropping a bad habit usually means changes in lifestyle that people may be unwilling to make, or these changes might not be easy to make in spite of the will to make them.

Overeaters need to empty their house of unhealthy food, resist the urge to order in, and not pick up their standard grocery items from the store. Those who drink too much need to avoid the bars or even people who drink often.

If such people slip even once with a glass of wine, or a smoke, or a bag of chips, they tend to be excessively harsh on themselves and feel like failures.

9. The Need to Be All-New

People who are looking to break bad habits feel they need to re-create themselves in order to break themselves of their bad habits, while the truth is the complete opposite.

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These people actually need to go back to who they were before they developed the bad habit and try to create good habits from there.

10. Force of Habit

Humans are creatures of habit, and having familiar, comforting outcomes for daily triggers helps us maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

Consider people who are used to lighting up a cigarette every time they talk on the phone or eating junk food when watching TV. They will always associate a phone call with a puff on the cigarette and screen time with eating.

These habits, though bad, are a source of comfort to them, as is meeting with those people they indulge in these bad habits with.

Final Thoughts

These are the main reasons why breaking bad habits is difficult, but the good news is that the task is not impossible. Breaking habits takes time, and you’ll need to put long-term goals in place to replace a bad habit with a good one.

There are many compassionate, positive and self-loving techniques to kick bad habits. The internet is rich in information regarding bad habits, their effects and how to overcome them, while professional help is always available for those who feel they need it.

More on Breaking Bad Habits

Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] After Skool: Why Do Bad Habits Feel SO GOOD?
[2] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem.
[3] Stanford Medicine: Examining how stress affects good and bad habits

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