When you fall out of habits, due to illness or injury or disruption from things going on in your life, it is hard to get started again. It’s hard to even think about it getting back into a habit sometimes, but there are ways to get yourself back on track! I am battling a cold that has intensified today, so I slept through my morning workout – which I am proud of because I needed it! – yet, it has me thinking of how disruptive illness can be this time of year.
Here are some tips for getting back on track no matter what throws you off – feeling overwhelmed, unexpected stressors, illness for yourself or a loved one, etc…
Realize there’s an ebb and flow. Motivation is not a constant thing that is always there for you. It comes and goes, and comes and goes again. Emotions work the same way. Realize that while motivation may go away, or emotions may get you down, it is not permanent. Motivation will come back, emotions will settle. Sometimes you must just stick it out and wait, be gentle with yourself, cut yourself some slack, and remind yourself it is temporary. In the meantime, read about your goal, ask for help, and do some of the other things listed here until your motivation comes back.
Replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Monitor your thoughts. Recognize negative self-talk. Whether just coming off illness or a low energy slump, negative self-talk will only enhance the negative emotion and further zap your energy and motivation. Crush, “I will never get back on track!” and replace it with, “I have been there before, I was ill and needed the break. I can do this!” It works!
- Remember no matter how far off track you’ve gotten, you can always start again. Just put one foot in front of the other, baby steps, and get going!
Start small. Really small. If you are having a hard time getting started, it may be because you’re thinking too big. If you want to exercise, for example, you may be thinking that you have to do intense workouts 5 days a week. No — instead, do small, tiny, baby steps. Just do 5 minutes of exercise (or even 2!). It works. Commit to 5 minutes of exercise for one week. You may want to do more, but just stick to 5 minutes. It’s so easy, you can’t fail. Do it at the same time, every day. Just some crunches, 2 pushups, and some jogging in place. Once you’ve done 5 minutes a day for a week, increase it to 7, and stick with that for a week. In a month, you’ll be doing 15-20. Want to wake up early? Don’t think about waking at 5 a.m. Instead, think about waking 10 minutes earlier for a week. That’s all. Once you’ve done that, wake 10 minutes earlier than that. Baby steps.
One Goal. Evaluate whether you have too much going on in your life and are trying to do too much. Feeling overwhelmed often leads to simply giving up. It’s a common mistake people make: they try to take on too much, try to accomplish too many goals at once. It is difficult to maintain energy and focus (the two most important things in accomplishing a goal) if you are trying to do two or more goals at once. Focus intently on one goal and complete that before moving onto the next. Make a list of goals and prioritize.
Find inspiration. Inspiration comes from others who have achieved what you want to achieve, or who are currently doing it. Read blogs, books, magazines. Google your goal, and read success stories.
- Do this even when you are feeling down, are ill, or overwhelmed to the point of not functioning well. Simply continuing the thought keeps you more motivated, positive, and likely to get back on track.
- Spend time reading, allow yourself TV time on the couch, find inspiration, and nurture yourself – without overindulging to feel better! Overindulging while sick or in a slump is just another way to get further off track (even when you’re down, try to be patient and mindful with your eating).
Get excited. This sounds obvious, but most people don’t think about it much: if you want to break out of a slump, get yourself excited about a goal. Talk to yourself about how excited you are to get back on track, and can’t wait to feel better!
Think about the benefits, not the difficulties. One common problem is that we think about how hard something is, especially when we know we’ve gotten far off track. Exercise sounds so hard when you’ve been sick for a while or haven’t done it for a while! Just thinking about it makes you tired. But, instead of thinking about how hard something is, think about what you will get out of it. For example, instead of thinking about how tiring exercise can be, focus on how good you’ll feel when you’re done, and how you’ll be healthier and slimmer over the long run. Considering the benefits of something will help energize you and make you more likely to start.
Tell yourself you can and will do it, make a plan… and when the time is right, get going!