How to Develop Healthy Habits

The new year’s resolutions list we have prepared may range from wanting to start our fitness journey, to be more wise with their finances, or simply to be more stress-free. In other words, we all just want to become better this 2020. To do that, we must first build healthy habits for ourselves. Question is, how do we do that?

It’s easy to talk about wanting to create healthy habits. It’s even easy to stay on track for a few days, especially when you’re still too hyped up with all the positive changes you’ve made for yourself. But at times, people tend to setback and say, they’ll double the effort of building that healthier habits the next day. We might not notice it but that one time happens again and again and again until you find yourself frustrated because you’ve pulled yourself away from reaching your goals. 

But then again, change is constant and with the right strategies, you can set yourself up for success! 

Creating Healthy Habits

Dr. Lisa Marsch, an expert in behavior change at Dartmouth College said that the first step to changing your behavior is to create awareness of what you do regularly. This means, you need to identify your habits and assess which needs to be changed. Identifying first these unhealthy habits will give you the triggers to want to change. Doing so will push you to disrupt your patterns and create new ones. Once done, you move on to the following steps: 

Set Goals. It’s time for you to create smart, reasonable, realistic goals and identify specific actions that you can take toward this change. In addition, also set fall back plans -- think, what would you do in cases of unexpected situations or temptations? 

Say for example, you know by heart that smoking 6 cigarettes a day will not do you any good. Your goal is to stop this unhealthy habit. For specific actions, you can start by cutting back on the number of cigarettes you can consume per day until gradually, you realize that you have completely removed this habit. Also, try to identify alternatives that will stop you from craving for it. Perhaps, chewing a gum.

Tip: Sometimes, it works when you have friends and loved ones involved in the goal setting process. That means, find someone you can look up to and let him or her know that you would want to create better habits for yourself. This way, you’ll have someone to remind you of your goals and even encourage or challenge you to stay consistent.

Keep A Record. Staying on track can be challenging especially if no one sees your progress. Thus, keeping a record can surely help you! For this, you may have your own journal or any application to note things such as your diet, exercise, sleeping or spending patterns, etc. Record everything even those days when you fell off the wagon. Don’t cheat on your records. This is how you place self-control. When you get used to it, that’s when you become better at it and soon, you’ll realize that you’ve already successfully built your new and improved habits.

Tip: Have someone trusted to check on your journal regularly and let him or her assess where you are.

Think About Tomorrow. Always keep your head in the game by reminding yourself of the benefits that you’ll get with all these new changes you’re doing for yourself. Whenever you experience a setback, remember your goals and how far you’ve come already. Remember that whatever it is that you are doing today will always affect the things which are part of your tomorrow. So then ask yourself, what will happen tomorrow if I didn’t give up today?

Reward Yourself. The aftereffects of a healthier habit is already a reward itself. But give yourself simple and healthy rewards for all the hard work you’ve done. Your achievements, big or small, is a milestone that you need to celebrate to keep you more interested and motivated. Think of rewards as simple as a massage or personal time. Rest when needed because this way you don’t put too much pressure on yourself in developing these healthy habits.

Be Patient. Change doesn't happen overnight. It is a gradual process. Just because you think you’re not making any improvement in a week, doesn’t mean you’re actually failing. Be patient. It doesn’t matter how slow you go. What matters most is how you stay consistent and focused. 

How long does it take to build a new habit? 

The 21-day habit formation may be familiar to most of us. This has been made famous by the plastic surgeon, Dr. Maxwell Maltz upon noticing a pattern from his patients. He said that it would take about 21 days for his patients to get used to seeing their new faces. While some experiences prompting him to think so would make this true for him.

Another research from the University College of London who studied 96 people for over 12 weeks concluded that new habit forms in 18 to 254 days and on average, 66 days. This is depending on the type of person you are and the type of habit you would want to learn or unlearn. 

Take Away 

Whether it be 21 days or 66 days or longer, at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter how long it would take for you to form a habit. Once you put on the work and you continue doing it for your own improvement,that’s it!

A habit? Could be. But sometimes, it developing healthy habits actually leads you to changing your lifestyle -- and once you do, you become a better version of yourself. 

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