What Do You Do When You've Fallen "Off the Wagon"?
We've all been there. You were on a roll. Whether it be with a new exercise regime, adding a healthy food to your daily routine, or integrating more self care. Maybe you changed your mindset and were feeling optimistic and excited about what the future holds...
Then you fall off track. Whatever you were doing, you stop. Maybe life got in the way. Maybe your routine fell apart. Whatever the reason, you find yourself feeling stuck, overwhelmed, uninspired, at a loss. You wonder where all of your good feelings and intentions went.
Most people have, at some point or another, been in a situation like this. Many of us have felt this way. However, often when you're in a situation you don't have the insight to see what exactly you need to do. You can't always see what you need to put in place to move ahead and feel positively empowered again.
These simple steps will help you calm the overwhelm and get back on track!
1. Stop and breathe.
You feel stuck. You feel overwhelmed. You don't know where to turn. Stop. Close your eyes. Take five to ten deep, slow breaths. Focus all of your attention on how your breath feels going in and out of your nostrils. Roll your shoulders and relax your neck.
This step is so simple, yet so often overlooked. Our mental state and physical state are intricately tied together. If we feel our mental state is out of control, by slowing and consciously relaxing our physical state, we can influence the two together and create the beginning of a sense of calm and stability.
2. Look and Reassess.
Gain some perspective. Step back from your situation and analyze where you are in a productive, structured way.
- Where do you feel stuck or overwhelmed?
- What are you really feeling low about? Not doing the thing you were doing, or not getting the big result you wanted?
Often by asking these simple questions, we can gain some clarity on what it is we really want. Many people are surprised to find that what they really want isn't always what they were doing before they "fell off the wagon".
Perhaps you started a new exercise routine, but it fell apart and you're upset. But through some internal reflection, you find that you didn't really want the exercise itself. In fact you hated the particular exercise you were doing. What you really want is to be healthier, and you want to love what you see in the mirror. By choosing a form of exercise you hated, you were setting yourself up for failure. And by looking for happiness in your reflection or a number on a scale, you were going to be like a hamster forever running on a wheel.
By looking at it this way, we can see that the end goal you have can be reached in many ways, so perhaps it's time to look for a new way there!
3. What do you want?
So you know where you feel stuck, maybe you even know that your methods were setting you up for failure or they needed some gentle tweaks and changes.
Continue by asking:
- What needs to change moving forward? Does the end goal need an update? Or is it the methods you're using?
- What do you want more of in your life?
- How will you know when you get this thing?
It's best to get very clear on what it is you want. What do you want, where do you want to go, and why you want it. Essentially, get all of your ducks in a row and get your head screwed on straight before moving forward!
4. Set Yourself up for Success.
This is the step that most people want to jump to, but without doing the first three you'll almost certainly continue the cycle!
Once you've done the work and gotten here, there are three things to have in place to be successful.
i) Self Care. This gem is so important! If you're learning a new skill, adopting a healthier lifestyle, or setting a big goal, if you don't take care of yourself chances are you won't make it. Self care can be anything that feels yummy and nourishing to you. Whether it's yoga, journaling, a cup of tea, or a chat with a friend, if it feels good to you then it counts! Remember, you can't pour from an empty cup. Want some help with this key step? Check this out.
ii) Mindset. Having a positive, optimistic mindset when
making changes in your life is a non-negotiable. You've got to believe that you can do it! That you can be successful and that nothing will stand in your way. That roadblocks are more like speed bumps and your tenacity will pull you through.
One great tool that I often recommend for mindset work is using affirmations. Affirmations are positive sentences that you repeat to yourself on a daily basis. It is something you aspire to achieve or grow into, yet said as if you're already there. Typically written down and kept somewhere you'll see it often (such as taped to your bathroom mirror), affirmations are read out loud to yourself each day.
They are great for almost any internal work you're doing! Click here for more information on affirmations in general, and click here more information on using affirmations specifically for body image work.
iii) Accountability. So you set out some goals and created some step by step actions to follow. Did you follow through? Knowing that someone will be checking in with you is a game changer. We all need accountability in one form of another. This is specific to each person and each unique situation. Different people work best with different levels and different types of accountability.
This key here is to share your goal. If you keep it to yourself and don't tell anybody you're even working on making changes, then if you fail there's little at stake. Essentially you've got nothing to lose. The more you lay on the line, the higher your changes of success!
Some ideas to create accountability include:
- Tell your partner or a close friend about your new goal and ask them to check in with you every week or two to check on your progress.
- Post it on social media! Promise your followers that you'll keep them updated regularly through pictures and posts.
- Get on board with a coach! Depending on what your specific goal, there will be a coach that can help you get there.
- Join a group or club! Whether it's a running group, a healthy eating Mom's group, or something else, find a space with others who have similar goals to you so that you can work together and keep each other accountable!
5. Execute one tiny step at a time.
Take small steps. If you try to bang it all out at once, then there's a good chance you won't succeed. In fact, that's often why you fell off the wagon in the first place!
So break it down into small, bite size steps and start. Slow and steady. Think of the tortoise and the hare... the hare may be quick, but he's easily distracted from the end goal. The tortoise is slow, meticulous, and focused. Be the tortoise.
Believe that everything always happens as it should. It is all perfect timing. You are exactly where you need to be in this moment.
The next time you "fall off the wagon", because let face it, it'll happen to each of us... Try this out. Take a step back. Reflect, reassess, get clear, get support, and start again. Ask for help if you feel it's right. After all we've only got this one life, and you never know when your time is up. Live each day as if it were your last. Do the thing. Take the risk. Live it up!
Listen to yourself, push forward, love where you are right now, and persevere. You're worth it!
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