Fall back into routine with lifestyle coach Vera Ilnyckyj

Fall is a great time to reset our routines. We sat down with lifestyle coach, Vera Ilnyckyj to learn about the benefits of routine and ways we can incorporate easy habits to enhance our productivity and build a positive mindset.

Lifestyle coach Vera Ilnyckyj helps people build the tools they need (re)connect with their purpose, especially those who are in mid-career and experiencing life changes, milestone birthdays, or yearning to connect with what is truly important to them.

Here is what Vera had to say about getting back into routine this fall. 

Why are routines (habits) important for our physical and mental health?

Habits are our brain’s way of being efficient (and our brains tend to be quite lazy!). The less our brain needs to think about, the less energy it needs to expand on rote actions, thus having more energy to expend on more important things – like solving problems, being creative, responding to the needs of friends and family, or learning something new.

Establishing healthy habits, or automatic behaviours, is important because they help us reach goals – such as losing weight, getting fit, eating healthier, learning new skills, improving our relationships, or saving money. 

What happens when our routines are changed and we need to find new ones? 

Our brains like familiarity so when something in our life changes we can feel discomfort, anxiety, resentment, sadness, and even anger. Acknowledge what you’re feeling because it’s valid and totally normal to feel emotional when our routines change (even if we’re the ones initiating the change). You may find that journaling about your feelings helps.

Remember that it will take some time to get on even footing where you feel comfortable with your new routine. It may require some trial and error. Be curious about what works for you, and what doesn’t. Be kind to yourself. Doing something new is not easy and you may get derailed or discouraged from time to time. But stick with it, and over time you will build up a new routine that feels comfortable and right for you. 

What are ways seniors or retirees can build routine into their lives? 

It’s likely that you already have a routine that you follow every day. But if you’re looking to change it up or want to add a new habit into your life, the first thing to remember is why

Why do you want to create a new habit? What is the purpose? Is it to have more energy for your grandchildren? Is it because you want to be able to play golf well into your golden years? Is it because you want to travel and explore new places?

Starting new habits can be hard because we’re not used to them, they may feel awkward at first, and we may forget to do them some days. And that’s okay. But if you have a really important reason as to why you want to create this new habit, it will be easier to stay on track and commit to the journey.

Do you have any tips for recent empty nesters or new parents that will have to change their routine this fall? 

Remember that routines will make your life easier over the long run, but that starting new routines will feel awkward or uncomfortable at first. And that’s okay! 

  1. Start small with any new routine or habit. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to start too many new things at once. What is the smallest thing you can do each day to create your new routine or habit?
  2. Allow for flexibility. Sometimes people think that once they commit to a new habit or routine they need to stick with it 100% of the time, no matter what. While consistency is key to health, we also need to be flexible. Life happens! Build in some flexibility and know that you can always go back to your routine the next day.
  3. Use the 80/20 rule. Examples of the 80/20 rule with healthy habits include: Eating well during the week and indulging in a treat on the weekend, enjoying an alcoholic beverage on the weekend but drinking water during the week, exercising five days a week and resting for two. The 80/20 rule can be used in lots of different ways to provide you with flexibility, enjoyment, rest, moderation, and balance.
  4. And again, be gentle with yourself. Ask yourself what you need and what is best for you right now. Don’t compare yourself to others – there’s no right or wrong way to do anything – there’s only what is best for you.

What exercises do you recommend to your clients to help them create a healthy and sustainable routine?

Start with your purpose. Write out why you want to create a new healthy routine or habit. It may be helpful to post this somewhere you can see every day (I like using sticky notes on my bathroom mirror or my computer monitor. Or you can print out an image from the internet that reminds you of your goal).

Habit trackers can work really well. This doesn’t need to be fancy. You can create a simple tracker on a piece of paper and check off each day that you do the habit. Or use an app (there are many available online).

Find yourself an accountability buddy. This can be a friend or colleague, a coach, a personal trainer, or your spouse. Having someone that holds you accountable and reminds you of your purpose and goal can be a very powerful way to build new habits or routines.

Celebrate your accomplishments. At the end of each week, acknowledge yourself for all the days you stuck with your new routine. If you write down your successes, you’ll have an amazing list to review at the end of each month or quarter. 

Start reading. Pick up a copy of Atomic Habits by James Clear, or my personal favourite book on habits – Tiny Habits by B.J. Fogg. 

Lean into gratitude. One of the best healthy habits to practice is being grateful. This can look like jotting down three things you’re grateful for at the end of each day, asking everyone (including kids) at the dinner table what they’re grateful for that day, or simply doing a mental gratitude “treasure hunt” before you go to bed each night.

For more great tips on how you can start your fall off on the right foot you can visit Vera’s website here.

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