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Building good habits

Often, when we are at our least resilient, it is because life has become very complicated and demanding. Rather than trying to use a complicated solution that is hard to implement, one of the best ways to get back on track is to focus on the basics - sleep, a balanced diet, exercise, relaxation. In other words, develop healthy habits.

Building good habits

Developing peak performance

If we don’t develop healthy habits, put simply, we wont be operating at our best. Healthy habits are important for peak performance, so if our lifestyle is unhealthy for too long then:

  • Performance suffers
  • Wellbeing suffers
  • Health suffers
  • Mood suffers

What can I do about it?

GOALS are only half the solution! Often when we want to change our behaviour or our habits we set goals. But there is a catch with goals - while they give us something to work towards (which is important), we also need strategies to get there.

How many people who say they have made a New Year’s resolution are able to sustain it over the long term? The answer is: very few, and that is because, although they had a goal in mind, they actually needed to focus on the process of obtaining the goal rather than just the outcome.

With most things you are trying to get your head around, it can be good to get your thoughts down on paper. Once written down you have the freedom to look at them more objectively.

It’s important to have good planning

You can have the best intentions to change your behaviour to increase your activity levels, but without good planning it’s unlikely you will make the right changes or maintain them for very long - this is why New Year’s resolutions don’t tend to stick, even when people are fairly motivated to make changes.

Effective planning for behaviour change takes two steps

  1. Action planning – deciding when, where and how you will become healthier
  2. Coping planning – anticipating what barriers will stop you from continuing to become healthy and putting in place strategies to overcome those barriers

Write down what your action plan will be as well as the barriers you will face and then a coping plan to overcome each barrier. For example:

Action Plan  
I will: Walk to and from work instead of driving four times per week.
Coping Plan   
Barrier 1:  Poor weather
What I will do to cope with it:  Get some cold and wet weather running gear
Barrier 2:    Injury
What I will do to cope with it:        If I feel an injury coming on I’ll get it checked at the doctors and follow their instructions
Barrier 3:  Boredom
What I will do to cope with it:  I’ll get a running App that tracks my progress against my friends

One of the most effective ways to become resilient is to put in place healthy habits, and one of the key messages about healthy habits is “keep it simple”:

  • Make small and sustainable changes to begin with – these are more likely to stick in the long term
  • Focus on improving your average over a week rather than focusing on just one day (e.g. aim to improve average kilometres run per week or number of vegetables eaten)
  • Identify what triggers you to perform a bad habit and replace it with a better alternative
  • Reward yourself for good behaviour or make the habit rewarding (e.g. listen to music while running)
  • Make the desired behaviour easier to do (e.g. packing gym bag the night before, having only healthy food in the house)

Other self-help techniques to improve your resilience

You can find more information about building resilience in the other pages in this section, or by downloading the complete toolkit below.

View pdf
Everyday Resilience - NZDF Resilience Toolkit
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