Creating Healthy Habits

Updated: Apr 30

Let’s cut to the chase, repetition is the only way to make a new behavior a habit. Many of us already have routines and those routines can help to make new habits easy and effortless to adopt.


Repetition is key, and changes your brain. By making something a habit your brain eventually switches from effort to ease, in other words what once required significant effort will feel like autopilot because less conscious attention and motivation will be required. When something becomes a habit it becomes easy.


While habits can be used to support your goals, habits do not have to be related to achieving your goals, adding habit driven behaviors to your daily life, like eating lunch or dinner at the same time, or waking up or going to bed at a consistent time can help to ease stress related tension.


Mastering a healthy habit boosts confidence and will encourage you to adopt other healthy behaviors.


Benefits


The benefits of creating a healthy habit surpass a boost in confidence. As your brain starts to function differently, it is likely you will also experience improved focus and attention, improved cognition, more energy, and improved immunity. All of these benefits will improve your day to day life, while helping to propel you towards creating other healthy habits, and achieving your goals.


How Long Will it Take to Create a Habit?


When working on cultivating a healthy habit, two weeks can go by begrudgingly but honest;y two weeks can be just a fraction of the time it takes for a brand new habit to actually stick. This process can easily take two months or even longer.


The system you use to create a healthy habit will play a significant role in your success but that does not go without saying, creating habits over weeks of practice makes achieving long term goals more attainable.


Healthy Habit Strategy


Here is how to set yourself up for success. Along your journey to healthy habits, t is incredibly important to remember tiny habits count, and tiny habits will certainly contribute to the success of creating healthy habits.


Decide on what you need. Choose the tip or trick that will work for you. Remember the diet that works for your friend might not be the right fit for you, same goes for exercise. There are always many options and many strategies. Consider what makes you unhappy or agitated. It is important to take note of your challenges. Challenging moments will of course happen, but knowing your triggers can help with the long term success of creating a healthy habit that sticks.


It is equally important to note what brings you joy and satisfaction. When you successfully practice discipline, what does it feel like? Appreciate the sweet spots and go after them. These sweet spots will help to empower you on your habit-changing mission.


Journal about your current day-to-day routines. Keep a detailed daily log, preferably for a week so you can make observations about your current patterns and routines. As you move forward a bullet journal can be a creative way to support and grow the best parts of your routine. Just do a Google search for "bullet journal habit trackers."


Take stock of your current non-negotiables when evaluating your current routine. Non-negotiables look like coffee, work, caring for your pet, spending time with your family. It is important to recognize these and making a priority list can help you to see where you have time to add a new habit.


What’s not serving you? This is where you have to be honest with yourself. On your list of what does not serve you, you might find mindless scrolling, Netflix, sitting on the couch for extended periods of time. What habits would you like to work into your schedule? Would cutting down TV time support cultivating and sticking with your new healthy habit?


Taking stock can feel overwhelming but remember, now that you have an idea of what you need and want, it will be easier to create a routine. Give yourself some grace, this is hard work. Continue to move forward with compassion.


Choose Your Habit


Creating clear intentions is supported by the other parts of this process. Be specific. Do not just say “I want to lose weight,” Create a plan like, “This week, at home I will work out for 45 minutes Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7 AM.” Familiarize yourself with, and create an implementation intention. This focuses on time and place.


Practice habit stacking. This links a new behavior with an already established routine. Choose a part of your day that is already routine and add one positive habit to that part of your routine. Perhaps your tea time can turn into time for five or ten minute meditation.


How to use temptation to your advantage. Stacking a positive habit like 30 minutes of _____ with something tempting but not as productive, will leave you feeling you got reward for incorporating your positive habit. How about an extra piece of chocolate each day you workout. Be fair and kind to yourself. you still deserve treats, just practice moderation.


Clean up your environment to support the cultivation of positive habits. Leave out your workout clothes, place your running shoes by the door, sleep with your phone outside of your bedroom, or setup your meditation space so it is ready for you. No matter what it is, start to create an environment that supports your new habit.


Your plan b will keep you on track. When life gets crazy, which it does, and your day does not go as planned, having a plan b will help to move you towards success. Give your self a reasonable alternative that will support your ultimate goal.


Give yourself grace. You can always pick up where you left off, and this is always a good reminder.


Measuring Your Success


Measuring your success can be summed up into three different parts. For the first third of time you will want to quit, once you have moved to the second third of your process you will likely feel you are adjusted and your new habits are becoming easier. During the final third of time you will start to feel a rhythm.


Here is another method for measuring success from Pop Sugar--


Stop: Pause for a moment, and consciously examine your surroundings and how you're feeling in the moment
Challenge: Think about why you're considering this action and whether it will help or hinder your goals. Are you where you want to be?
Choose: Choose an action, such as something that will make your health a priority.

When these evaluations start to feel like second nature you are getting somewhere :).


Habit Ideas


This is my short list of ideas on what you can make a habit. Do not forget to consider your individual needs.


  • Intermittent Fasting

  • Journal

  • Meditation

  • Waking Up at the Same time Each Day

  • Regular Bedtime

  • Regular Exercise Schedule

  • Diet Changes

  • Water Drinking

  • Go On a Walk


Continue to be kind and compassionate to yourself through your process. This will change your life, be gentle.


10 views

© 2020 by Markesha Miller, Ph.D.