Author: Chrissy Stergos,MAC, PLPC I got a new air fryer recently, as a gift from a kind friend. It’s super fancy and does all sorts of things (theoretically). I’m going to cook everything from hot wings to sweet potato fries to rotisserie chicken, and it’s all going to taste delicious AND be good for my health. My generous friend sent some great looking recipes, plus I’ve been all over Pinterest collecting my own. I’ve talked to some friends about it. I’ve cracked open the user manual. The appliance has a place on my kitchen counter, is plugged in and raring to go. It’s going to save me time. It’s going to make my family happy. It’s going to be great. I know it … eventually. But first I have to actually learn to use it.
Has your counselor or another wise voice in your life ever shared a “tool” with you that might be helpful in improving or maintaining your emotional health? Suggestions I’ve received and given include mindfulness meditation, gratitude practice, intentional cognitive exercises designed to reshape thought patterns, a quiet time, prayer, journaling, a physical fitness routine, healthy eating tips, and so on. And I believe my people when they tell me that these things will work. I do! I’ve seen the results in their lives and sometimes in my own. I’ve read articles and research about the use of said practices, explored details of each, and have made intentional decisions to DO THEM.
And guess what! Those practices I’ve actually adoptedactually work! For instance, when I have a daily quiet time, I am calmer, saner, clearer and more peaceful. When I have cleaned up my eating habits, I feel better, healthier. With a little bit of effort and intentionality, I have added some pretty effective tools to my toolbelt and have experienced great benefit.
But what I have learned as well, but still need to occasionally remind myself is that the only tools that work are the ones we use. Read that again. Studying them, fiddling with them, watching YouTube videos of other people using them or saving them to my “Emotional Health” Pinterest board… none of that changes my reality. Just knowing about them without practicing them doesn’t help me.
But it can be hard to learn new things, don’t you agree? Weall have our established rhythms… our routines. I get up every morning, make my bed, brush my teeth and go grab coffee. If I accidently get those out of order, you never know what might go awry that day! And new things don’t always fall into place easily. I don’t know about you, but I typically have a few false starts and stutter steps with any new habit before I get any momentum going - if I ever get any momentum going - which is discouraging - every time. I get running about in my usual day-to-day stuff and I run past my new plan. I forget. I am often halfway through my day or into the next before I remember, IF I remember, that I meant to do THE THING I wanted to do. In my discouragement, I am tempted to give up. And sometimes I do, which is sad and causes me to miss out on the new strategythat could have been so valuable to me.
There are a few things that seem to help, things that havebrought me greater success in making real use of a new practice:
• I set an alarm on my phone as a reminder.
• I schedule THE THING into my calendar (with an alert).
• I do it with a friend or two, so that we can help each other.
• I add it to my to-do list so that I get the satisfaction of checking that box at the end of the day.
But I wonder, what are the things that help you? How do you go about settling into a new healthy habit? Because I so often need help, and maybe we can help each other!
Tomorrow I am going to attempt to air fry a chicken. I guess I have to ACTUALLY use it if I want it to do what I’m expecting.I’m setting my reminder RIGHT NOW. Stay tuned… I may need your help.