This article has been supplied and reproduced with permission from the Great Health Guide, a 96five community contributor.
In the previous article on Creating Healthy Habits – Part 1, habits were described as routine, unconscious behaviours that are performed on a regular basis. The key to creating a new habit is to practise it often. However, to create healthy habits to bring long term behavioural change it is important to understand the logic. There is actually a science behind the way we form habits and it is this simple logic that will help you understand your own habits in order to change them and replace them with positive new ones.
All habits are based on a simple loop of:
- Cue – This could be a time, place, person or situation that triggers the habit.
- Your action – What you actually do.
- Reward – What you receive for taking action.
There are four simple steps in the process of creating healthy habits and it is a very simple process:
- Write down your plan for the new habit.
- Identify your triggers.
- Choose the new replacement for the trigger.
- Focus on doing the replacement habit every single time that the trigger occurs and repeat this plan for at least 30 days. Remember, the more repetition you can do the more likely the new habit will become permanent.
Let’s use exercise as an example. So, if you want to start exercising each morning, then apply this process in the following ways.
- Cue – Upon going to bed, lay out your exercise clothes ready for the following morning. Remember to set the alarm.
- Routine – Alarm goes off, get out of bed, get dressed, put your shoes on and start exercising.
- Reward – Feel energized after completing morning exercise. For extra incentive and motivation, you might like to set a larger reward of a massage or a new gym outfit at the end of your 30 days.
In what areas of your life can you apply this simple process?
- Choose the new habits you’d like to create
- How can you cue these habits?
- What will you do to create a routine?
- What are some ways to reward yourself?
In creating healthy habits, the initial discipline is the hardest, but momentum will build with the action you take each day. This will keep you moving forward so that taking action will get easier with time.
Be kind to yourself.
Creating new habits can often be a challenging process so treat yourself like your best friend. Be gentle, accepting, kind and most importantly celebrate your success. If sometimes you revert to old habits, it’s not the end of the world. Just revisit your original goals of why you wanted to create a new habit. Remember tomorrow is a new day.
“We are what we repeatedly do.” – Aristotle
Remember change can be hard, but it is possible. By taking control of your habits you’re one step closer to creating the life you want. Positive rituals used when creating healthy habits can be the turning point to have a truly flourishing life.
Megan McGrath is a professional accredited Wellness Coach, a certified Fitness Trainer and Founder of Chasing Sunrise – a Health and Wellness Consultancy. For more health articles go to 96five community contributor Great Health Guide.