By Rose Koch, OT
Monument Health Sturgis Hospital
Throughout our day-to-day lives, we complete various “activities of daily living”, or ADLs, to fulfill our roles and meet basic needs. ADLs often become habit, as we usually do them automatically. As you reflect on your ADLs, you may notice you follow certain patterns of behavior on a regular basis, depending on the environment. These automatic patterns become routines that are unique to you.
Improving your lifestyle and living healthier starts by seriously examining one’s habits and routines. Good habits and routines should be efficient, serve a purpose and have an end result that is desirable. Sometimes routines and habits are not fully formed, or are dysfunctional due to illness, and can hinder performance in tasks of daily living. This can contribute to instability, leading to the development of “quick fixes” in an attempt to meet basic needs. These inefficient performance patterns and poor coping mechanisms can become well ingrained into daily activities and negatively impact mental and physical health.
However, the good news is that healthy performance patterns can be intentionally placed into daily routines and lead to better mental health and physical longevity with continued practice. When it comes to health, “good intentions” are only good when they are put into motion. The successful implementation of new actions into a routine starts with intentionally choosing when the action or actions will be completed in relation to your existing routine. Write it down, set a start date, and make measurable, short and long-term goals. For example, “Immediately after work on Tuesdays and Fridays, I will complete a workout DVD or go on a 30-minute walk for three weeks in a row.”
Omitting or reducing the occurrence of well-ingrained actions like overeating, smoking, or excessive alcohol consumption can be very difficult for a variety of emotional, social and physiological reasons. It isn’t always practical to simply stop a certain action without replacing it with another. In the case of a coping mechanism, consider meditation, counseling, or support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous if appropriate. Talk to your doctor about other services available to you.
Changing your lifestyle can be daunting, but it is possible, and you can do it with the right tips, guidance and support.