Forming Long-Term Healthy Habits
Bad habits, we all have them, we all hate them, and we all wish that we could change them. Good habits, we all have a few and wish we had more. Especially when it comes to our health. The good news is that bad habits can be broken and better yet, they can be overridden with good habits. Unfortunately, for many bad habits around eating and exercise can lead to serious, if not life threatening health complications. Forming long-term healthy habits is a worthwhile pursuit that will enable you to live life to its fullest.
What is a Habit?
A habit is something that becomes second nature, something that does not seem like work but is just a part of you. Habits are routine behaviors that we do regularly. They occur almost unconsciously as patterns of behavior adopted through repetition. Habitual activity appears almost mindless with very little forethought or afterthought.
Habits can also be seen as a link between a stimulus and a particular response. There is a trigger and that trigger forms a link that, over time becomes like a beaten path in our brain. An example may be overeating and stress. We may feel stress of some kind and immediately go to eating as a reaction to the stress. This is the way that many people have learned to deal with particularly stressful happenings in their life. As time passes, the path between the trigger and the reaction becomes so worn that we go to the behavior without even realizing it. We may be halfway through a tub of ice cream before we even clue in to what we are actually doing.
According to research, it takes 60 days to build a habit, good or bad. Without a 60-day commitment, it is unlikely that habits will be formed. Unfortunately, many people fail to stick to healthy lifestyle activities for long enough to see the benefit. When you set out to form a new habit, it is important to remember that habits take time to form, but will be worth while in the end.
The first step to forming a healthy habit is to set a measurable goal. What is it that you want to achieve? This will help you with forming the habits that go with the particular goal. Make a note of the bad habit that needs to be replaced.
Goal: To get more rest
Bad Habit: Staying up too late watching television
Healthy Habit: Go to bed each night by 10pm
Set a series of short-term goals if the long-term goal seems too difficult at first.
Do not be afraid to reward yourself when you are able to stick to your healthy habit. Rewards can be simple like getting a new shirt or a night at the movies. Whatever it takes to let yourself know that you did a good job. Make sure that you list your reward each time you set a new goal.
Tips for Forming Healthy Habits
Track your personal habits so that you can assess which ones you would like to change Have a healthy mentor to assist you with setting goals and forming healthy habits. Be aware of triggers that may encourage you to stick with unhealthy habits.
- Talk to yourself in a positive manner
- Understand that you may have a “bad day”
- Keep optimism first
- Stay committed
Some Healthy Habits to Consider
- Take a 20-minute walk outside each day
- Eat 3 servings of fresh vegetables each day
- Eat an apple daily
- Drink at least 8 glasses of water each day
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night
- Practice forgiveness each day
- Take 10 deep belly breaths each day
Believe it or not, with the passing of each day, your new habit will become less and less difficult. Don’t try to introduce too many new habits at one time. Aim for one new habit every three or four weeks and be sure to keep a journal so that you can keep track of your progress.