With modern day stresses, we all have areas of our lives we want to focus on and improve. But why is the ability to be healthy harder for some than others?
Why don’t we all lead exemplary lives with the right amount of exercise, well balanced and nutritious diets and manage to stress less?
Well, it isn’t easy. There are so many temptations surrounding us and all too often we choose the easier rather than the healthier way out. Problem is once we develop those bad habits, they start becoming reinforced in our brain and as a result more difficult to change.
Recently, I visited the award winning health and wellness spa Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary & Holistic Spa in the island of Koh Samui, Thailand. The retreat is a place that I have been visiting for over ten years and the reason I return so regularly is that it helps me reset my health goes and tackle issues such as changing bad habits.
Apart from the exquisite location and luxurious accommodation, there are various wellness plans you can opt for to suit your needs. For me, it was the Emotional Balance: Embracing Change plan. My personal goal was to embrace a more sustainable approach to a healthier lifestyle. Importantly, I wanted to learn the tools to help me do that once I returned home.
One of the key benefits of going to a retreat such as Kamalaya is that it allows you time to focus on yourself, and take a helicopter view of your life away from all the distractions. Once you are surrounded by a nurturing environment and eating healthy food such as Kamalaya’s beautiful Green Detox salads, you realise how good it feels. And instead of craving unhealthy food, you relish food that is packed full of goodness.
Kamalaya allows you to choose from a range of programmes to suit your needs, and the Embracing Change programme was just the ticket for me given my plan to eat healthier, stress less and be more active. I also wanted time for more self discovery and all those needs were covered by this program.
As the Kamalaya website says: “The Embracing Change program is the first of Kamalaya’s wellness programs to focus on exploring one’s inner life and emotional disposition. This is an ideal program to enrich your emotional wellbeing and life fulfilment. The focus throughout the program is to explore one’s emotional habits and address current life situations with effective tools to restore emotional balance. Suitable for anyone seeking support for life change and life challenging situations of any kind, as well as for targeting behaviours such as emotionally-driven eating habits, relationship issues including loss or break-ups, work related difficulties, anxiety and grief.”
Self discovery and reflection is so much easier when you are staying somewhere like Kamalaya because you are among kindred spirits. Not only are the staff helpful, caring and sensitive about your needs, so are your fellow guests who are also on a path of rediscovery and self-improvement. From the blissful treatments to the counselling sessions you receive, your spirit can transform itself in no time at all so that when you return home you feel empowered to get your health goals back on track and stay on track.
Apart from the treatments you receive in your wellness programme, there are plenty of daily activities including yoga, tea ceremonies, walking meditations to pilates to keep you occupied. One inspiring session was given by Life Enhancement Mentor Smitha Jayakumar on how to change bad habit to a good one.
Smitha, who was also my life coach, helps brings clarity into your thinking and awareness about what is going on inside your personal thoughts. Her guidance enabled me to live a more conscious life. There is a calmness in Smitha’s voice that is relaxing in itself. She often talks about paying attention to your ‘inner smile’ and reminds you to be kind to yourself, which is a wonderful piece of advice.
Tips From Smitha to help you turn bad habits to good ones that stick:
Smitha teaches you that there are many reasons why changing habits may be more difficult than you think, and that involves more than a strong will.
She suggests taking note of how a habit is detrimental to your wellbeing. Being aware of the damage that it may cause us. Then being able to rethink the habit and change it for a healthier habit.
Recognising how the habit is serving us is something we don’t often do. For example, if you are stressed from work and you believe you need alcohol, cigarettes or comfort food to relax, then it’s likely you are telling yourself that this is a stress relief. Realistically, you know it’s actually not helping your stress but rather fuelling it.
Smitha says a good approach is to reframe this way of thinking. So put actions in place to build new ways to deal with stress such as exercise, meditation or a massage. After a period of time, you will reinforce new healthier habits in your mind which are a better way to respond to feelings of stress. Importantly, you need to keep practicing good habits to help make them stick.
Similarly, in terms of bad eating habits, if we have been exposing our bodies to processed foods and high sugar, giving up will be harder because of the addictive nature of high sugar foods. However, if we create new healthier habit such as preparing nutritious food in advance and making that a regular habit, it will be easier to swap a bad habit for a good one. The lesson here is to make the time to reinforce good habits.
Understanding why we need to give up a habit helps, too. For me, it was realising that a healthier lifestyle is important to me for the simple reason that my children will have a parent around for a long time.
Once you have awareness of why you have created the habit and why, if it is a bad habit, it isn’t serving your wellbeing; then it’s easier to start the process of replacing it by establishing new healthier habits.
All such simple advice, but then simple is often best.
If you are planning a trip to Kamalaya and I can thoroughly recommend you do, then check out my story here on what you need to know before you start packing your bags. Read the story here.
Kamalaya Koh Samui is a wellness retreat located amid the tropical coastline of Koh Samui, Thailand.
Centred around a monk’s cave that once served Buddhist monks as a place of meditation and spiritual retreat, Kamalaya’s essence is expressed in its name, ‘Lotus (kamal) Realm (alaya)’, an ancient symbol for the growth and unfolding of the human spirit.