In the fifth episode of our new season of Love Life, Live Well, our host Emma Cartmell is joined by Claire Elmes, Founder of Inspire You a consultancy who help people to improve mental fitness through science backed approaches to enhance performance on a personal, team and organisation level.
Keep reading to find out the highlights and key takeaways from this podcast episode.
What do you love about your life or life itself?
I love adventure and challenges so for me it’s finding something, whether that’s on a personal level or professional level, and then aligning my values to it and giving me a sense of purpose. Finding something that I’m really passionate about to do for the year or for the month or whatever. I just love doing stuff and adventure is a key word for me as well in my life. It’s like, if it’s not an adventure, then do we want to do it?
How do you make sure that you look after yourself and live well?
In all I try and have a good life balance. For me it’s really important I have fun with family and friends. I tend to follow eating healthy, exercise and good lifestyle choices around 80% of the time. It allows a little bit of flexibility for the other. 20% of the time.
I’m quite a fitness enthusiast, so I love doing boot camps in the park and things like that, but I also like to go out and have a drink, so I’m not going to sit there and stay on plan all the time. I think it’s about getting the right balance, but for me it’s making sure I’ve got a good mixture of everything in my life really. I definitely think I used to be more of a kind of work hard play hard and now I’m much more balanced.
What are habits and how do they serve us in a good way, or possibly sometimes in a not so good way?
We get like 6,000 thoughts a day that our brain has to decide what it keeps and what it gets rid of. There’s no way that you can function doing everything that you have to do. Right? So we need a way of coding it. The brain looks at things and it, and it goes, oh, do I need that information? Sometimes it distorts it based on previous experiences, and sometimes it generalises it. That is why we need these automatic schemers, these habits to lift a little load off, like a how-to script for ourselves.
We need those in our lives to be able to work a bit more on autopilot. For example, you probably put your clothes on in the same order every day. Without even thinking about it, and you know that you need to clean your teeth. So there’s certain things that we do without thinking, and it stops us from having to think about absolutely everything that we need to do in our day. So we need habits to be able to function, otherwise we’d just be like a blubbering mess on the floor.
Can you just talk us through what is Habit Stacking?
Habit Stacking is thinking you have an existing habit, which becomes a trigger. What you need to do is teach your brain how to add a new habit in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelming. If you wanted to do something, you would link it with something that you’re already doing so that it becomes just an add on to what you’ve already done. So then you kind of literally stack it, you have like an old habit, a new habit, an old habit and what that does is it helps your brain and gives it a bit of conditioning. It’s a bit like a coding system, if I do this and I do that, if I do this, then I do that and then it just helps your brain to adapt that habit naturally.
If you go right, I’m gonna do this, it’s all very in the moment and if you don’t look at how you’re gonna implement it into your day, it becomes like another thing on the to do list so it becomes really difficult to actually fit that time in. Instead looking at it and being specific and measurable and achievable and realistic and timely. We are literally feeding it into our routine so that we cannot fail. For example say your normal routine is I’m going to get up, get dressed, have a cup of tea or whatever. Then you add in new habits like after I’ve had my cup of tea, I’m then going to do my yoga before I clean my teeth. Then you’ve got your teeth clean as your sort of bookends, if you like, of this new habit. That way it becomes kind of a part or it, it’s not like an extra thing that you’re having to make an effort to do.
What advice might you have if someone said, I don’t have time for that. Is it as simple as getting up earlier or something else?
We only have a certain amount of hours in the day so there is an element of that also it’s not realistic to expect to do something every minute every day. It’s about looking across your week and determining what your week looks like and where the space in time is that you could potentially bring in something else. Most of us get home from work and we’ll sit and watch TV so there’s usually some time in the evening that we can kind of carve out.
You could get up earlier, it could be that some people go to bed at like half past eight, nine o’clock or by taking lunch breaks and breaks during the day. I think with covid and hybrid working, we’re so used to back to back meetings. There was a really interesting study done on brain studies, brain scans around the difference between having back to back meetings with no break and having like five to 10 minutes micro break during the day in between meetings. The differences in the colours of the brain and the different things that the brain is doing and the productivity was humongous. So definitely about looking across your week fro moments where you can make time back in more productive ways.
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