Feeling in control of our lives is something that we all seek and which requires a very fine balance. Some of us feel stressed and overwhelmed much of the time, and in turn try to control others to manage how we feel inside.
I recently participated in an experiment that involved finding balance and control through making changes in three key areas of life – healthy eating, exercise, and sleep. The premise was that if we make changes in these areas for the better, we will feel less overwhelmed, more in control, and less likely to try and control others.
This exercise lasted for seven days, but, of course, can be extended based upon your needs and desires. In terms of healthy eating, I had three goals- to chew food well, eat the healthiest foods at the beginning of meals, and eat off of smaller plates for portion control. For exercise, I chose movement the first thing in the morning, which is known to help boost mood for the day, to walk more, and attend more exercise classes.
Sleep has always been an issue for me as I am an over thinker, making it difficult sometimes to relax at night. My goals to help with sleep included warm showers before bedtime, listening to a sound machine, and not checking emails after 7 pm. Trust me, the last goal was by far the hardest one to achieve consistently, clearly showing the power that technology addiction can have over me and I am sure for many people. During this experiment, the instruction is to choose three goals for each category and no more.
If you think about it, with this experiment, you are taking control over three major daily activities, and three of the most important areas in life. Admittedly, some days were better than others in reaching my goals, but by the end of the week I made some real progress.
Working on making changes in diet, exercise routine, and sleep is taking an active stance and in this respect you are taking control over your life, moving from passivity to activity. This is one of the reasons why this experiment can be so effective since we tend to feel more in control when we are active in our lives. Also, when we experience a sense of balanced control, we feel more poised and have a sense of personal satisfaction. It is also organizing just to come just to up with goals at the beginning of the exercise, which helps with feeling in control.
How did my life change with this little experiment? The most obvious change was that I was less reactive emotionally to people around me who I might have felt slighted or hurt by. I felt more in command and was less likely to waver in decisions. Research suggests that it takes at least two months for behaviors to become habits and so my next goal is to follow my healthy food, exercise, and sleep regimen for two months and track my changes. I will check back in in two months with the results!!! Not a bad experiment for a New Year’s Resolution!
Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2016!
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates