Habits for Life
I have recently become fascinated with the psychology behind habits. How they are formed? How do they become entrenched? And how can they be changed? We all know bad habits we have are cultivated over time. These habits almost seem to hypnotise us to respond in a certain way when faced with a certain stimulus. Automatically pouring a glass of wine when you start making dinner, buying lollies when you go the movies or having a cigarette after a meal. Maybe you are one of those people that do all of the above.
So how do these habits start and what can we do to change them? It is suggested that these habits form as a result of boredom or stress or both. How often do we find ourselves opening the fridge when we have a spare moment at home and often we’re not even hungry- it’s something to do, as sad as it sounds, we have all done it at one stage of our lives… if not more ha. If we are a little stressed, we may pour a glass of wine to try to relax. In other words, we depend on things that are a luxury or bad for us to escape us from this state of unsettlement.
So what happens? We begin to justify or accept these behaviours that turn into habits and we all know that once behaviours become a habit, they are harder to break.
We must understand and observe our behaviour is the key to breaking this cycle. It’s been said that it takes around 21-28 days to break a habit. That means we have roughly under a month to solve these habits. Let’s start this month together!
Here are my top tips.
1. Make a conscious decision to change.
If you want it enough, you’ll make it happen. Make a list of reasons why you want to or maybe you might need to, even more inspiring. Treat your body as a temple.
2. Choose an effective habit replacement
Instead of only thinking of ‘breaking’ a habit, it’s just as important to think what we replace the habit with. Time to get creative guys! Instead of a packet of lollies, melt some organic chocolate over some strawberries instead the night before to keep in the fridge for movie night. Make sure you have a healthy snack at hand when the 3pm munchies kick in at work, try a banana which is full of potassium which by the way is responsible for making you happy…how cool is that! Feeling bored? Instead of going to the fridge, maybe it’s time you spent that time returning a friend’s call or skyping with family.
3. Cut out the triggers
Be aware of the environmental factors that trigger your habit by assessing what typically happens throughout your week, list it if need be. If it's boredom then don’t get bored by fill your day with activities you enjoy, whether it be making music, learning a new skill on youtube, reading an interesting book or simply lounging out watching some Netflix (only if you have done something active that day or it’s the weekend haha). If it’s eating out, try to save this for special occasions only, personally I love my weekend breakfasts or once a week going out for dinner with the lover. This way you will limit being naughty and you save money, win win.
4. Team up with a friend
It’s much easier to stay on track if you have a buddy – especially if you are checking in regularly. You feel like you are letting them down if you slip up. It can even forge some healthy competition and help maintain this new outlook on life that you’re beginning to have.
5. Surround yourself with people that live the way you want to
It’s crucial to surround yourself with role models, ones you might know and some that you might not. Positivity should be reflected in every aspect of your life and interaction with others is a major part of any individual’s life, so make each person surrounding you count.
6. Plan to fail
As corny as it may sound but even if you have tried this type of turnaround change in your life before and it’s crashed and burned for whatever reason… most likely self-destruction. That was in the past and the past is no longer relevant, so leave it where it belongs, in the past. The only thing you should think about is what might have been the contributors to why it didn’t work before in regards to the system you had planned. Maybe it was too unachievable at the time because you rushed into making a complete life change in 24hrs? Or maybe you weren’t strict enough and you got lazy? Everything is best in steps, you know yourself more than anyone so with this knowledge it’s best to start gradual. I mean even if it means you drink one less glass of wine a night then so be it. Don’t focus on what you should be doing or what others would think or how pathetic you are. Bring all your attention to slowly and surely removing or limiting thee habits you dislike in your life.
Remember, motivation gets you started but habits keep you going. Motivation fades and is not sustainable over the long term. Habits become automatic and are for life.
So break and replace!