Tips to Creating Healthy Habits
A Habit - defined as a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.
Most people will associate the word with something bad or unhealthy. And a lot of the time, it’s easy to fall into those bad habits. However, there is always a way to drop a bad habit and replace it with a good/healthy habit. Some people may think “I don’t have any bad habits” but I am here to say that most people have 1 or 2 habits that may not necessarily be bad but they may still be unproductive and unhealthy.
Bad habit example: Scrolling through social media while in bed before you go to sleep. Doesn’t seem bad right? However, there are many studies out there that describe how unhealthy that action is. The artificial blue light that is emitted from your phone, tv, laptop or tablet, can delay your body’s internal clock and suppress the natural release of melatonin in your body which in turn will keep you awake longer at night. Using these devices also heightens your alertness levels as well. Therefore allowing your body to wind down is harder, falling asleep is harder, it can mess up your REM sleep and in turn you end up feeling tired and groggy in the morning.
..But enough about digital device use before bed, that’s a topic for another day.
So, how do we go about replacing bad habits with good habits and creating new healthy habits?
First and most importantly, you have to be ready and want the change.
If I’ve learned anything in life, it’s the importance of being 100% honest with yourself, because if you’re not, it’s just not going to work.
Tip 1: Find Your Why: Ask yourself these and any other questions you can come up with. Your WHY is your purpose for change. It’s a good idea to write down answers to these questions so that if you feel discouraged, you are able to look back at this document and reassure yourself that you are on the right track.
Why are you trying to make this change in your life?
How is this change going to positively affect your life?
What results are you seeking?
Why are these results important to you?
How are you going to be negatively affected if you don’t make these changes?
Can you afford not to make a change?
Are these changes going to make you happier?
Will these new actions bring you joy?
What is your personal mission and vision of your life?
Will these new habits contribute to your future goals?
Will sticking to your old habits negatively affect your goals?
Tip 2: Start Simple: Have you heard of “Slow and steady wins the race” or “Don’t bite off more than you can chew”? Well, both of those certainly apply here. When creating a new habit, you need to start small because completely overhauling your life over night is just not realistic.
Example 1: You want to start working out. Don’t commit yourself to an hour and a half at the gym everyday. Start small. Block of 20 - 30 minutes of your day to get a workout in. Whether that is going for a short run, doing an at home workout or starting off with a simple challenge that you found on pinterest. Some movement is better than no movement.
Example 2: You want to wake up earlier in the morning. Set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier every week till you reach your goal time. It’s not realistic to say “I’m going to wake up at 6am from now on”, when you typically wake up at 11am. Your body needs time to adjust to changes. Once your body gets used to waking up a little earlier, push that time back again. It’s important to challenge yourself, just don’t challenge yourself to the point where you know you will fail your challenge.
Example 3: You want to stop/minimize electronic use before bed. Maybe think of setting your “bedtime” an hour earlier or use those new features to set time limits. If falling asleep is an issue. Try finding other activities that will help wind your mind down. Some suggestions are reading, coloring, writing, yoga or meditation. Did you use your phone for an hour before bed limit it to 30 minutes to start and use the other 30 minutes for your activity of choice. Keep minimizing your electronic time, till you feel like you no longer need to use at all.
Tip 3: Make it Daily: You have to practice your new “habits” daily. There are many studies out there that talk about how many days in a row an activity needs to be practiced before it becomes a habit. I personally believe everyone is different. Once an activity has become a habit, you will know. You will feel it. It will feel odd not completing that activity for the day.
Tip 4: Stay Consistent: Everyone has “off days”. Where you may sit at home and do absolutely nothing, and that is totally normal. However, if you don’t stay consistent, it can be very easy to fall back into old habits. If you decide to wake up at 7am, stay consistent and wake up at 7am every day of the week, not just the week days. Just because you’ve participated in an activity for 21 days straight, that does not mean that the said action is now a habit that can’t be broken. Stay consistent with your actions and always remind yourself of your why when you feel off.