Seven Tips to Shed Light on Habit-Forming
Habits –whether healthy or unhealthy –are made the same way: by repeating an action until it becomes become a pattern. When our lives are going smoothly, discipline, structure and routine carry us a good portion of the way. We use them as anchors to move us forward. But, sometimes, our good habits (exercise, eating right, managing our stress) seemingly grind to a halt.
Let’s talk some fast facts that may give you perspective about why this sometimes happens, as well as tips on how to get back to your habits of health:
- In our ‘we want it all right now’ world, we are bombarded with instant gratification messages. It’s important to acknowledge the difference when it comes to health habits bad habits are easy and good ones can be harder. However, the payoff is that while good ones are harder, they improve your health and well-being and make you feel all kinds of better.
- Humans need support, but we rarely ask for it. Finding your squad (whether it is 1 or 100) is one of the best things you can do to increase your success by increasing our accountability and making good health habits a shared activity.
- It’s easy to go down a health information rabbit-hole online, including sites that are misleading or untrustworthy. Be vigilant in ensuring that the online content you review is research-based and from expert sources. In the end, and I can’t stress this enough: no one will care about your health as much as you.
- Many of us fight the ‘all or nothing’ approach when it comes to health habits. This can defeat us from ever getting started. Sustainable healthy habits provide a little flexibility for life’s obligations and the everyday events that inevitably come up.
- In fact, giving in on occasion can keep you from tumbling down. Get started with a micro-steps approach: focus first on changing just one behavior in a meaningful and quantifiable way—such as taking a 5-minute daily walk or drinking at least 8 ounces of water. Once achieved consistently and integrated into your life, build on this success. Tiny victories boost confidence and build momentum toward your next goal.
- When it comes to nutrition, processed food is genetically engineered and has addictive qualities. It’s also marketed brilliantly, often using engaging characters and celebrities. Knowing more about nutrition and how it is manufactured is all-important to reduce your reliance on high-calorie, high-fat items.
- Finally, there are a whole host of causes, like genetics, social triggers and biological factors that you may want to explore to better understand the personal barriers you need to navigate and overcome. Your physician, wellness coach or mental health provider can be an excellent partner in this effort.
Healthy habits are not linear. Give yourself the physical and emotional space as you take on, update or upgrade your goals—and make room for a reward for that new behavior to keep you motivated and make it easier to make those new healthy habits a pattern.