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Layering Good Habits – 5 Day Challenge

In my practice I believes in MicroChanges (TM). These are simple easy practices that when layered over time have a significant positive impact. This week I will poost a daily habit for you to add to your self care regime. The idea is that you keep hold of the one from the previous day so that by the end of the week you have added 5 small practices to your life. Habits are better sustained when you do the following:

Commit – Declare the habit and commit to doing it for at least the next 5 days

Why? – State your motivation for developing this habit and know how it will benefit you

Cue – Try and think how you can fit it in. Attach it to an alreay strong daily habit

Rewards – Knowing how this practice will positively enhance your health

Track – Any simple way of tracking encourages you to carry on and allows you to feel a sense of achievement!


**Day 1 Challenge**

To drink at least 2 litres of water in your waking hours. 2 litres is about 6-8 cups. If you already do this then add lemon to promote and alkaline gut.

(If you are having any caffienated drinks please add another cup. And if you are exercising another 1 / 2 cups.) Your brain is about 75% water. When your brain is functioning on a full reserve of water, you will be able to think faster, be more focused, and experience greater clarity and creativity. Water is also essential for delivering nutrients to the brain and for removing toxins.


**Day 2 Challenge**

Today’s challenge is to ensure you are eating 3 meals a day (preferably not at you desk). If you are already doing this then try and make sure you have a green with every meal and aim to have your last meal by 8.30pm.
Take your time and chew, be mindful of what you are putting in your mouth. Even if you eat at this pace it will probably only take you 10 mins max to eat your meal. Try timing it to see exactly how long it takes.Regular sustenance can help with sustained energy and boost metabolism to help keep your weight under control.

**Day 3 Challenge**

Todays challenge is to ensure you move your body – ideally outside for at least 10 mins. If you are already doing this I suggest you increase your informal movement and practice some principles of NEAT & NEPA (see below). Pick 3 and add them in to your day.
We all know how important it is to move and most of us do regularly. However when we are under a lot of pressure at work or at home sometime this is the first thing to go. I encourage you to find a shorter, back up version of movement for you when this is the case. The 7 min workout or the 5 min yoga practice or the 10 min run or Hiit session. Whatever it is have it as a go to and you will feel better to get the blood moving around your body.If this feels too much there are other ways of positively impact your body and studies have shown these principles are more important than exercise to increase longevity and health. You could practice NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) or NEPA (non-exercise physical activity). This does not replace exercise at all, but we have so many more opportunities for informal movement throughout the day that it can have a much greater impact on our health and wellbeing. Here are some suggestions of non formal exercise practices that have a positive impact on body and mind:
  1. Brush teeth with your non dominant hand
  2. Stand while working.
  3. Balance on one foot while on the phone or waiting to do something (kettle boiling, putting a sock on… etc)
  4. Stretch while standing up
  5. Increase opportunities to get up and down allowing your body to go in to deep squat. (from the floor to standing)
  6. Take the stairs
  7. Spread your toes and stretch your fingers when at your desk
  8. Screw up paper before throwing in the recycling bin to improve hand and wrist muscles
  9. Engage your stomach and move your spine while seated
  10. Train your eyes: pick different spots in the room to focus your eyes on, near and far.
Aim for progress not perfection!

**Day 4 Challenge**

Today’s challenge is about AVOIDING RANDOMNESS in the evening.
During the day we have so much to think about our mind is constantly multi tasking or piling up things to do. This evening why not try and make a definite plan around sleep and bedtime. This is about being mindful at the end of the day. Rather than sinking into the sofa and falling asleep in a Netflix haze, try making sure you are in bed by a certain time, (I recommend 10.30pm to be in your bedroom). You could make a decision to leave your screens outside your bedroom. Plan your evening without open ended options and you body will thank you. By knowing what you are going to do the body starts to prepare for sleep too.So you could try one or all of these:
  1. Setting a bedtime curfew (Most restorative sleep is between 10pm – 2am)
  2. No screens 30 mins before sleep (blue light imitates daylight fooling the brain to stay awake)
  3. Phone outside the bedroom.
  4. Pick an alternative bedtime activity reading, listening to music, journalling or breathing etc.
“We’re all part of one big machine, whether we are conscious of that or not. And if we can’t unplug from that machine, eventually we’re going to become mindless.” — Alan Lightman

**Day 5 Challenge**

Take a breathing break.

Today’s chellenge is to spend at least 3 minutes once today to close your eyes and breathe. (If you prefer you could simply follow the 3 min starter meditations on Headspace). Take a note of how you feel before and how you feel after. Breathing is one of  the most powerful tools to have in your self care kit.

It always amazes me how many problems can be solved by simply breathing in and breathing out

  • Frustrated? Breathe in. Breathe out.
  • Worried? Breathe in. Breathe out.
  • Overwhelmed? Breathe in. Breathe out.
  • Confused? Breathe in. Breathe out.
  • Exhausted? Breathe in. Breathe out.
We are breathing in and out all day for survival, but when you take a moment, and just breathe, you make room for what you need most in that moment. It could be getting clarity on an idea, pausing before reacting, or easing the frustration of a traffic jam and anything in between.

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