How many times have you said, “I’ll improve my diet tomorrow; I’ll just eat this chocolate cake now,” or “I’ll start exercising on Monday; it’s too difficult to start on the weekend.” We all know what our bad habits are, but because they are habits and we fall into them without thinking it can be difficult to change them. In the lead up to 2019, we have time to try and change how we act so that we can live a healthy and mindful life in 2019.

Turn Bad Habits into Good Ones

If you have ever read any of Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits blog, you’ll know he is a master of the art of mindfulness. In this article by Zen Habits, he talks about the incredible progress you can make by just practising a little every day, or even just a few times a week. Simply by taking small steps and not pushing yourself too hard, you can achieve what you set out to do almost without noticing.

They key is to take it slowly and steadily, for instance, begin by choosing one of your bad habits. You need to establish what it is that is causing you to end up with this bad habit. You must examine the source and how that leads to rewarding yourself with something that isn’t good for you, like having a glass of wine just because you’ve had a bad day at work. Once you know what it is, then try and replace the bad reward with something that will make you feel good, like a walk in the fresh air, or an extra lie-in the next morning.

It will take a little while for this to become habit, but practising it as often as you can, and taking one bad habit at a time will all begin to add up. You will be able to see an improvement sooner than you think.

Meditation

yoga-meditating

As part of this mindfulness and the careful consideration of your actions so you can alter the outcome, meditation can be a big help. As this article from Mindful Magazine states, research from a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that nearly half of our behaviours can be repeated almost daily. So unless we consciously do something about this, our bad habits will continue to hound us.

Meditation will allow us to home in on the cause of the bad habit and allow us to decide how best we can change that. The replacement for a bad reward could even be a few minutes meditating, as that is bound to make you feel better and more refreshed than any ill-judged chocolate bar.

Retreats

Sometimes we need modern solutions to achieve the peacefulness of ancient Zen wisdom, particularly as modern issues are most often the problem in the first place. As this Psychology Today column mentions, research has shown that distractions like email, social media, and interruptions in general affect productivity, and it can take considerable time to refocus.

The answer may lie in removing yourself entirely from these distractions and trying out a mindfulness retreat. There are many different ones to choose from, located in a wide range of places. You could try one of the diverse silent retreats, some of which can be very spiritual, or a retreat dedicated to yoga. The list is endless depending on where you would like to go, and the type of mindfulness you would like to practise while you are there.

Here’s to 2019

For your sanity as well as your wellbeing and balance, all these methods of turning your bad habits into good Zen habits will stand you in good stead for 2019. Remember, a little practice every day will see you improving gradually, and by the beginning of the year, you will be well on the way to a peaceful, rejuvenating 2019.