Healthy Mothers Healthy Families – 6 swaps you can make to go from bad habits to good health

The Healthy Mothers, Healthy Families program is full of informative ways to help improve the wellbeing of mothers of children with a disability. Through identifying changes you want to make, it will guide you along the process of working out what to change, how to change, and then the process for the change to occur.

Change should be simple when it’s driven by a significant desire. However, the truth is, modern day life is busy, it can often get in the way of our best intentions – especially when it comes to our health. Before we know it, we’re skipping breakfast, or maybe relying too much on products that are high on convenience but not so great for our health. Over time our overall health suffers due to all these seemingly small bad habits adding up to create a big impact on our minds and bodies.

If you want to start making a difference to your lifestyle today but don’t know where to start, then try focusing on these little things – the small tweaks you can make throughout the day may feel a lot less daunting than a whole lifestyle overhaul.

We’ve come up with some ideas that will help put in place good habits that support you in times of stress instead of contribute to the negative cycle.

Swap Out to Swap In

1. Swap Out – Grabbing the phone first thing when you wake up

Unless it’s because your alarm is going off, grabbing our phone first thing when we wake up to scroll through social media is a habit a lot of us have fallen into. Do you remember when this habit never even existed?!

What it gives us: ’the feels’. A feeling of connection.

New Habit 

Swap the phone for your journal or a notebook, along with your morning drink. The world of social media isn’t going anywhere, and while you set yourself up for the day ahead, even if it’s literally for five  minutes, it will set you up to start breaking the habit of phone control.

2. Swap Out – Grabbing poor snack food at 3pm (or any other part of the day)

The 3pm slump hits and you grab a chocolate bar, a packet of chips and a double shot latte just to give you a hit of sugar and caffeine because you’ve not eaten all day!

What it gives us: ’the feels’. The feeling of satisfaction of hitting that hunger whilst getting an immediate dopamine release (the happy hormone) and short unsustained shot of energy.

New Habit 

Start anticipating those days that you know you are going to be stretched – whether it be from work, hospital appointments and therapy appointments. Next time you are food shopping, grab a couple of high protein bars.  Protein helps us regulate our dopamine release and inserting it in to your diet regularly, plus having an extra bar in your bag, will help with grabbing the nearest bag of chips!  You can try swapping the coffee with a herbal tea, or a fruited soda water – don’t miss out on a drink, just swap it to something hydrating instead!

3. Swap Out – Skipping breakfast  

Skipping breakfast whether we are tired, too busy or don’t feel like it due to being distracted with the other items on our agenda for the day ahead.

What it gives us: ’the feels’. This can give us a sense of control. By skipping breakfast you may feel you are ticking one thing off your list by not doing it!

New Habit 

Start small by making yourself a small smoothie in the morning.  Your favourite drink (milk, milk alternative, water, juice etc) and add in a few berries, blitz/shake and away you go. It will take you less time than what it takes you to boil the kettle for your morning coffee, and you are helping your body get ready for the day by giving it a substantial boost.

4. Swap Out – Binge watching Netflix into the night after a big day and your kids are (hopefully) asleep

It’s so temping to stay up late and binge watch Netflix after a stressful day or any day where you feel like you’ve had no time for yourself.

What it gives us: ’the feels’. You want to escape and relax, we get it!

New Habit 

Listen to some gentle music, do some stretches, breathe deep, pick up a book or a magazine, and hide the tv remote control and your phone – switch it to Do Not Disturb! Sit alone and enjoy the silence. Look out the window or sit in the garden late at night. You’ll be amazed that even by doing this for just 10minutes will slow the stresses of the day down. As tempting as it is to slump into the armchair and binge on Netflix after a huge day, sometimes our brains need a break too. By listening to music and by unplugging from distractions, it will have a different but positive effect on your mind than if you were to watch tv.

5. Swap Out – Indoor Exercise for Outdoor Exercise 

Doing the same routine indoors can sometimes make you feel like you are in a bit of rut and can affect your ability to stick with the routine long term.

What it gives us: ’the feels’. Exercise does promote the release of endorphins which is great! However, it may not last as long as you are feeling ‘stuck’ doing the same thing indoors.

New Habit 

Swap your indoor exercise to outdoor choices – even if it’s just once a week to start with.  You may find that taking a simple walk in nature in your neighbourhood is just the thing to break it up.  You may even feel more relaxed and better able to continue with your workouts long term.

6. Swap Out – Any vice that we know we are overindulging in

If our mind doesn’t tell us, our body sure will! When we’ve overindulged, whether it be food, alcohol or even gossip – our body tells us in one way or another!

What it gives us: ’the feels’. It gives us instant gratification! The first sip, the first bite, the first ‘did you know about x,y,z?!….’

New Habit 

Changing our bad habits into good ones takes time. So don’t be too hard on yourself.  Do seek professional support however if you feel you have a problem that you can’t seem to tackle on your own.

Reaching for another glass of wine? – try switching to a tonic or soda water in between drinks.
That first bite of a chocolate bar or wheel of brie? Take the first bite then switch to something else – even a glass of water!   A gossip queen who rings you about the latest drama – don’t answer the phone!

You can create boundaries with habits and people that are no longer good for you or contributing to your life in a positive way. You’re setting yourself up to be more energised and improve overall wellness, so that you can be there for the good times during our unique journeys as special needs parents. 

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