How to Manage Habits That Creep Into Your Life

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There are so many life lessons I’ve learned from nature – pest management (aka “managing the habits that creep into your life”) is the latest one. This year we’ve been making a concerted effort to manage some of the unwanted weeds on our property, in particular tree pears. It’s taken a considerable investment of time, hard work, money and resources to uncover the best way to deal with them. It’s also got me thinking about personal habits that creep into our lives, and what we can do to manage those sorts of weeds and pests.

Pests have always been around

We’ve lived on our small bush property for many years. We’ve always had a few pests here and there but haven’t been overly concerned about them. They’ve had little impact on everything else so we haven’t considered them a problem. In the past we had a few cows and sheep grazing the grass. We’ve had no grazing stock for nearly 10 years now due to ongoing drought conditions. Even though I miss seeing those big beautiful cow eyes looking back at me, we’ve actually gained a lot of satisfaction from watching the native plants regenerate as a result. We’ve also relished the opportunity to make use of the land in other ways such as building mountain bike trails throughout the property.

MTB Trail

The problem pest at my place

Apart from reduced stock, altered land use and drought conditions, other changes haveCactus Tree Pear also gradually taken place – changes that we were blinded to until they became quite obvious and problematic. Tree pear is one of these changes. It has rapidly multiplied in the recent conditions. Not long ago it was a fairly insignificant pest, kept in balance by naturally occurring biological controls. Now it’s dominating the landscape. It very easily and quickly multiplies, so we now have a dense covering of tree pear of all sizes. Its growth rate is amazing and it thrives in the harsh conditions.

Managing the pest

Mature Tree PearUncovering how best to manage this pest has been exhausting, taking lots of hours, energy, research and trial and error. We’ve learned how critical it is to choose the ‘right’ strategy – the difference between getting numbers of tree pear manageable again, or increasing their numbers even more! They’re incredibly tough and resilient – I’ve got to admire them for that! We’ve persisted with our management strategy because we want to live in a balanced way, minimising the impact of our own lifestyle, and supporting environmental sustainability. It’s taken nearly 12 months to reach the point where we can see a positive outcome ahead. And we’ve learned lessons about keeping a closer eye on the pests out there and intervening earlier rather than later.

Habits can be like weeds and pests

Noticing what isUnwanted habits can silently creep into our lives in the same way that the tree pear and other weeds and pests gradually take over tracts of land and impact the overall health of the environment. The habits can slowly, quietly and destructively begin to dominate your life in various ways. The damage shows up as it impacts your relationships, health and confidence. Reestablishing healthier habits requires a hard sustained effort over time, but the secret is in actually noticing that there is a problem in the first place.

Audit your life

In the same way that it can be helpful to regularly have a good look around your propertyReflect to check for pests and unwanted changes, it’s also vital that we review our personal habits from time to time. It’s often only when a crisis takes place that we take the time to do this, but it’s a healthy practice for any of us even when things seem to be going smoothly. When we take the time to reflect, notice and make adjustments, we are better able to keep on top of the pesky habits that impact negatively on ourselves, our relationships and the world around us.

Questions to ask yourself

You don’t have to run away to the quiet of the desert or the tranquility of the mountains to review your life (although if you have the opportunity that could be amazing!) A more practical way for most of us is to simply take a few moments, or even a couple of hours, to ask ourselves a few questions. You might find it helpful to write your reflections down in a journal, make some art work about the topic, or have a conversation about these issues with a trusted person.

1. What have I got in my life that’s working for me?

2. What is not working so well in my life?

3. What is one action I could take that would make the biggest difference?

4. How can I make sure I follow through on that action?

5. What can I let go of?

6. What do I need to keep?

Change can be challenging

Even desired change can be very challenging and unsettling. We can experience a conflict of values, a simultaneous push and pull towards and away from the change. We might sense resistance from people and situations around us, as well as our own internal resistance. Be prepared for this, and push past the prickly bits!

Early intervention is best

Small cactusAnd so as I walk and run my home trails, I’ve been much more aware of the little cactus popping up. I’ve been investing a little bit of time and energy to carefully prise them out when I see them, right there and then. I’ve learned the hard way that this is a much easier and more effective way of dealing with the problem. Burying your head in the sand and avoiding seeing the issue for what it really is, only makes the problem bigger and more difficult over time. Sometimes those unhealthy unhelpful habits just seem to creep into our lives but with greater diligence and readiness to take action, we can keep them in their place, and maintain a more balanced life.

VLOG (Video Blog)

Did you know that I have a You Tube channel? Over the coming months I’ll be regularly posting videos and VLOGS over there. You can watch my latest VLOG on managing the pesky habits in your life  by clicking here!

 

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full. 

What’s the Deal With Exercise?

 

We all know that exercise is generally a good thing we can do for ourselves. Exercise is clearly linked with reduced risk to many health problems, including mental health, and this is where my interest especially lies.

YellowDaisyCluster

Social Changes

Over many years our society has gradually developed a more sedentary lifestyle. Our work, home, transport, leisure and play have all become less physically demanding as technology and industry have changed. While our parents, grandparents, great grandparents (and maybe even ourselves!) once spent hours physically kneading bread, beating butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon, digging holes and levelling ground by hand, sweeping the footpath with a broom, chasing each other in an after-school game of tiggy or helping to round up the chooks and cows, we are now much more reliant on our time and energy-saving devices to do the hard work for us or to entertain us.

Imagine living hundreds and thousands of years ago – people were even more active in these times, hunting and gathering food on a daily basis, building and re-building shelters at frequent intervals, tuned into their environments ready to fight, flight or freeze as the need arose. Yes! That thing we now call “anxiety” had a well-defined purpose for basic survival!

There have certainly been lots of changes to our way of living, our surroundings, our environment …… and yet our bodies basically work the same as they always have. In our sedentary lifestyles, we suffer for the lack of activity and exercise that our bodies and minds desperately need. We have discovered that many physical and mental health issues are exacerbated or even caused through lack of activity. Read more about exercise and depression here

http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/docs/ExerciseandDepression.pdf

What is the ‘right’ way to exercise?

When we commit to improving our health, whether it’s for our own sake or for the love of our family and community, we might feel pressured to exercise in ‘the right way’. There are lots of conflicting messages out there about what is the best form of exercise, the right time to exercise, and how much exercise we should be doing.

But let’s make one thing clear – doing something is better than nothing. We know the evidence says we need to be active, and throughout history human physical activity has taken all sorts of forms from basic survival activities (eg hunting, gathering, migrating, running / swimming / climbing from danger) to physically demanding farming and home management activities (horse-riding, fencing, digging, baking, washing) to a myriad of options we now have before us. We could, theoretically, choose any of the above activities, but now we also get to include walking / riding on specially constructed paths, swimming at the heated pool, gym programs, fitness classes, weight lifting, team sports, dance classes, adventure-based holidays, and the list goes on!

With so many options before us, we might seem spoiled for choice. There really is something for everyone whether you prefer to exercise in a group or alone, compete or engage in recreational pursuits, spend lots of money on the latest equipment / clothing / memberships or exercise at no or low cost. There are even more excuses for NOT exercising – more about that in a future blog!

So, how much exercise do we need?

The latest research was most recently packaged into the Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines in 2014 and is still considered current. Basically the evidence shows that we need to focus on being more active and less sedentary. This means for adults:

  • doing any physical activity is better than none!
  • limit the time you sit down
  • break up periods of sitting down with standing / walking activities as often as possible
  • aim for 2 ½ – 5 hours of moderate intensity activity a week or 1 ¼ – 2 ½ hours of vigorous intensity exercise a week
  • be active on most or all days of the week
  • do muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days a week

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines

Exercise vs activity – what are my choices?

Note that the guidelines refer to ‘activity’ rather than ‘exercise’! Consider how you can incorporate a greater amount of physical activity into your day. Here are some ideas to get your imagination and motivation going:

  • Go for a walk (footpath, park, beach, bush, in a large shopping centre)
  • Create your own treasure hunt activity to be completed over a few days or weeks (eg list natural or man-made objects you can seek whilst on your walk, maybe take a photo of each item as you go)
  • Join an adult learn-to-swim class or other skills-based program to build your confidence and increase your options for exercise
  • Run around with your kids after school in the park or back yard (it’s a great way to tire them out so they sleep better at night – same for you!)
  • Check if there are any walking groups in your neighbourhood or shopping centre
  • Take a daily stroll through your garden, along your street or in the park and really start to notice the colours and seasonal changes
  • Get up and stretch
  • Walk the dog or cat
  • Challenge yourself to complete a household or gardening task without the use of external power
  • If you enjoy combining technology with your exercise, try mapping out a walking or cycling path using a GPS or other mapping device, then get out there and follow it! For an extra challenge, take up the latest craze of mapping out a specific pattern to follow eg a star shape.If you have any concerns about your health and how this effects your capacity to be active, it’s very important that you talk to your GP or other health provider. So, no excuses now! Get up, get out there, and do something! Because something is better than nothing 🙂

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