Women over 50 are dealing with the added stress of midlife changes and their bodies are less resilient than when they were younger. Although some degree of stress in our lives is normal and helps motivate us to achieve our goals, we may consume too much caffeine, become emotional overeaters, smoke, drink too much alcohol, or become shopaholics as coping mechanisms to deal with prolonged, excessive stress. You will need more than willpower to change negative habits. Learn how to change them effectively so that you do not get discouraged. Seeing success in in small goals will help to boost your confidence so that you can accomplish your big goals.
Here are some helpful tips:
- Tackle one bad habit at a time. Focus on only changing one bad habit until you are certain that you have permanently removed it, replacing it with a positive one. This will only occur when the behavior becomes automatic, which may take more than sixty days.
- Repeat the new behavior with consistency. We are creatures of habit, so repeat the behavior at the same time every day, and schedule a regular time on your calendar for exercise. You will be more successful if you stick to a predictable routine.
- Make small goals and focus on your progress. Do not set yourself up for failure. Be realistic and start with a small goal that you are able to achieve, increasing it once you think you can do more. Set realistic goals.
- Plan for how to reach your goal. Write your goal down and keep it where you can refer to it often. Put sticky notes on the medicine cabinet in the bathroom to remind yourself. Block out time on your calendar for the days each week that you want to perform your new habit until it becomes second nature to you. Set electronic phone alerts for it. Make sure that you have a change of clothes packed in the morning before you leave for work if you are going to the gym straight from work. Plan and prepare for your success.
- Replace your triggers or obstacles with something else. If you get a strong urge to eat fattening foods, eat some grapes or a handful of almonds instead, breathe deeply, have a drink of water, call a friend, pray, or go for a walk outdoors. Don’t buy unhealthy food you need to avoid; it doesn’t belong in your house.
- Get a support system. Call a buddy or hire a coach. There are support systems online that will help you to stay on track, such as Overeaters Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, Spenders Anonymous, Weight Watchers, and private Facebook groups.
- Stay positive. If you should mess up, remember that you are only human, so forgive yourself and try again. Be kind to yourself and don’t give up on your goal. Treat yourself with compassion, as you would a good friend.
- Focus on what is within your control. Take pride in your efforts and do not focus on the results. Let go of what is not in your control. It may mean that your goal takes longer to reach than you thought it would, but if you are trying and doing everything that you possibly can, that is all that you can ask of yourself.
- Reward yourself for changing this habit, just not with food. Decide before you tackle the habit what your reward is going to be. Little rewards, like a hot soak in the tub with a new magazine or a pedicure at a day spa can boost your self-esteem.
- Reduce your stress when changing habits. You will be more likely to succeed. Try to eat a healthy diet, stay hydrated, get enough rest, exercise at least three or four times a week, listen to relaxing music, and spend time outdoors every day if you can. Stop multi-tasking, as that increases stress levels. Take frequent breaks during the day to get up and stretch, and breathe deeply and frequently throughout the day. Massage, aromatherapy, meditation, prayer, and a gratitude practice help to reduce stress, too.