How to Create Healthy Habits
A habit is something that we do frequently, usually without thinking about doing it, and that is unintentional. The key to developing healthy habits is to be conscious of the ones you currently have and how you’d like to change them. If you make a conscious effort to make healthier choices, these actions can become habits over time. That means that by putting in the work now, you can live a healthy life without worrying about what you’re doing. Here is how you can start being mindful of your behavior to develop healthier habits.
1. Recognize what you want to change
Before you can create a plan, you need to pinpoint what habit you want to break and why. Pay attention to what you’re doing and which activities you are doing habitually. Dr. Liza Marsch of Dartmouth College suggests looking “for patterns in your behavior and what triggers the unhealthy habits you want to change.”
2. Make a strategy
Set a goal that is achievable and measurable so you don’t try to do the impossible. Once you’ve decided what you want to change and in what way, you can start creating a plan. If you want to start exercising more, create a plan for how many times you’ll hit the gym or will exercise at home each weak. If you want to stop shopping impulsively, set a budget for yourself and decide how you will react to that desire. Many people find it easier and more realistic to set a plan that involves taking “baby-steps” at first so you don’t give up at the beginning. You’ll have to figure out which is the best method for you to adjust to your new lifestyle.
3. Give yourself time
On average, most habits take almost two months to be formed or broken. Very Well Mind explains that something becomes a habit after it is “performed frequently (at least twice a month) and extensively (at least 10 times)”. This means your plan needs to allow for enough time for your habit to form and that you will have to stick to your plan in order to meet your goal of forming a new habit.
4. Keep track of your progress
Keeping track of what you’re doing to create change will show you whether you’re sticking to your plan. After a couple of months, you’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve come and what you accomplished by sticking to your plan. If you hope to create the habit of exercising more, an exercise log should be an effective tool. If you want to form the habit of being more optimistic, keeping a journal of all the good things that happened during your day could be a good idea.
Basabara, Sharon. “How to Build a Healthy Habit”. Very Well Mind, 29 Dec 2017, https://www.verywellmind.com/how-long-does-it-really-take-to-build-a-healthy-habit-2224073. Accessed 13 Feb 2019.
“Creating Healthy Habits”. News in Health, https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2018/03/creating-healthy-habits. Accessed 13 Feb 2019.