January 14, 2021
Most people are always looking for ways to build better habit and it can either be 1 – making a good healthy habit, or 2 – giving up a bad habit.
Accomplishing either isn’t easy, but you can use the same process to create and maintain good habits, and avoid returning to unwanted habits.
A habit is something that you do repetitively, often without being consciously aware that you’re doing it. My favourite example is the seatbelt. I know my routine is the same when I get into my car: I sit down, insert the key into the ignition, start ‘er up, then I reach over my shoulder, grab the seat belt and click it in. Every. Single. Time. I don’t even think about it. That is a powerful habit.
Building a powerful habit takes time, and might need several months to fully ingrain itself into your daily routine. It’s really hard to change everything all at once, because as soon as you start, there are reasons to quit, so the key is – don’t quit.
Many habits are triggered by events, like, washing your hands is triggered by using the restroom. It helps if you set triggers for your new habit as you include it into your routine. For example:
Like anything, it does get easier with time. If you’re having difficulty overcoming the mental hurdles we tend to place in front of ourselves, it’s okay. You’re definitely not alone. It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or trusted health professional about your plans, and keep them updated along the way. They can offer some great advice and help support the mental aspects of your habit-building journey.
If you slip back into your old habits, don’t give up – it happens. Just think about why you wanted to make the change in the first place, and pick up where you left off. When starting a habit like working out, you can start small. A 5-minute workout at home every day can get you started on a healthy habit.
Like good habits, bad habits are also triggered. To overcome bad habits, take note of what triggers it. For example, if you are trying to eat less junk food, think about when and where you eat it, and try to avoid the trigger completely. If you smoke in the same spot every time you go on break, choose a different area to hang out.
It’s no secret that building a habit of proper diet and exercise provides a number of physical health benefits. But what about our brains? Poor health habits can lead to mental sluggishness, forgetfulness, and other signs of compromised functionality.
According to a study cited by Harvard Medical School, “older adults with a number of healthy habits – such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and socializing – improved or maintained thinking skills and reduced the risk of cognitive decline.”
“Each habit has a big effect the longer you practice it,” says Dr. Joel Salinas, a neurologist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
We all want to live happy and healthy lives for as long as possible, and while there is no guarantee to prevent our eventual physical and mental decline, there is more and more evidence that engaging in good lifestyle habits can help us remain healthier for longer.
Remember, your subconscious brain doesn’t care about good and bad habits. It can’t tell the difference. It just knows it has to do certain things at certain times, like putting on your seatbelt when you get in the car. It’s up to you to build the kind of habits that will help you achieve your goals.