• Laura

So You "Fell Off the Wagon"?

Updated: Apr 19

You and me both. It happens and it's totally fine. Let's explore my experience and some tips to get yourself back into a regular practice.

The past six months it's been very obvious how little I made time for a Laughter Yoga practice. I was rarely attending group sessions, not laughing at home and really just did not have this top-of-mind. While I could have found 5-10 minutes a day, I didn't. My self care didn't fall completely away; but my Laughter Yoga practice was almost non-existent and I have been practicing regularly for years. It sounds counter intuitive when you know that habits are formed through repetition and doing something daily for years has wired in some pretty strong pathways. So what gives?! I had some major life changes that temporarily took the place of my practice. These weren't things that were usual. I got married and the sheer size of my to do list was quite incredible. Particularly a few months before the wedding. We also had a major home construction project that took about two months in total and finished two weeks before our wedding day. That was a lot and it took up enough space where I had to let some things slide. Laughter Yoga just happened to be one of those things.

There are several reasons that regular practice can start to become a low priority. Sometimes we fall off the wagon because we haven't done something long enough for it to "stick" (i.e. the neural pathways are still forming and not solidified enough yet to become a true habit); and sometimes, like me, people can do things for years and just have temporary disruption that takes up space and practice can fit back in when that passes. The good news is, why it happened is not the most important thing. You are where you are and starting to DO something about in the present moment is important. So if you have "fallen off the wagon" what can you do?

Get back on! It sounds simple and it is; but simple does not always equal easy. Here are some concrete steps you can take to help you ease back in to Laughter Yoga or any other positive habit you want to incorporate back into your life.

#1 Watch Your Self Talk This can apply to pretty much every area of life, but I'll keep it specific to keeping our Laughter Yoga practice. Are you telling yourself "oh no, I forgot again", "I should have done that today", "ugh, I just can't seem to be consistent"? Any negative thoughts about not doing your practice will keep you focused on the fact you aren't doing it. I want you to focus on doing your practice, not the fact you aren't. What you focus on grows, so really watch the stories you are telling yourself. Make up a short, one sentence phrase you can say anytime those negative thoughts come up. When my mind would start in with the negative chatter about not doing my practice I said "It's okay, this is just temporary and I'll be back in the swing of things easily". Make sure you keep in mind that it's really not a big deal. So you stopped practicing. So what? You can do it again.

#2 What is Your Motivation Remind yourself frequently why you started Laughter Yoga to begin with. Think of all the health benefits- the elevated mood, the fun, the joy, a healthier physical body. Maybe you are in a neuroplasticity program and using Laughter Yoga as a tool to help rewire your brain out of a chronic fight, flight, freeze response. Now, write that down and stick it somewhere you will see it frequently. Your nightstand, office, bathroom mirror and kitchen are great places to put a note. Make sure you put it at eye level in a space you will notice it. A good example of a note is "Laughter Yoga makes me feel better and supports my immune system". There is a reward in doing your practice when you remember that there is a benefit to doing it! #3 Set a Time To Practice

I would recommend actually setting a timer to go off in this scenario. If you have a variable schedule then you will need to change the time each day, and that's fine. You can still do this! To get myself back into regular practice I looked at my daily schedule now that life is without major projects and just picked a time. I love to workout in the morning and wanted to set myself up for success by keeping it before or after my work time. I chose 11 a.m. because I am less likely to have errands, work things and other distractions that might make it harder to get this back in my schedule. Take your smartphone or whatever device you have available and set an alarm asap to remind you to practice.

#4 Boost Your Accountability I am doing that by writing this post and telling you that I am getting ready to start consistently releasing new Laughter Yoga videos on my YouTube channel for the next several months. You need a way to set a goal and keep track of it. Get a journal or a planner to write your goal in and keep a written record of when you have it set, then check off when you complete it. If self motivation is an area you are still working on then set a daily or weekly Laughter Yoga call with a friend. You now have two people keeping an eye on accountability! Make sure to choose a friend who has a good drive. I have friends I love dearly, but tend to be absent minded for various reasons. They would not be my choice for a Laughter Yoga partner if I were trying to set a regular practice.

#5 Start Small

Yes, 10-15 minutes a day is ideal to get the researched health benefits of Laughter Yoga based on the research. However, that's just researched benefits and by no means implies there is no value in doing 30 seconds of Laughter Yoga. When getting back into regular practice the best thing you can do is set a really small goal you absolutely know you can accomplish. I am not doing 10 minutes a day yet because it just felt overwhelming. It can take time to get that habit going again so maybe start with one minute. Do your one minute every day and celebrate it. Then go up from there. It would be far better to have a one minute Laughter Yoga session you can feel proud of yourself for doing than to feel the pressure to force yourself to do 10 minutes because you feel like you have to. We don't want to create negative associations with our practice. That is a wagon you don't want to get on!

Have you fallen off the wagon and had success reimplementing your practice? Are there other strategies that have worked for you when recommitting to something? Please share by commenting below. XOXO Laura

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