Healthy habits and how to develop them
“If your habits don’t line up with your dream, then you need to either change your habits or change your dream.” – John Maxwell
Habits shape our lives. The question I hear repeated all around me lately is, “How do we rebuilt post-pandemic?” I’ve been thinking about the world and heard it said that we’ve all gone through a collective trauma.
Now, this is familiar territory…
Trauma changes us
I know what trauma does to one’s brain. It changes the landscape of it. Trauma shapes the way we think, speak and act. The effects of trauma reach into our relationships, the way we work, and even our health.
This got me thinking about the rest of the year and even into 2021. How could I live in such a way that I embrace healthy habits and let go of negativity or patterns that were not so life-giving prior to lockdown?
Even though we’ve had about 6 months in lockdown and unconsciously (even involuntarily) developed new habits, we now have to embrace the world opening up.
Change is upon us once again.
For some, the very thought of it is daunting, even scary.
Fear and anxiety have fueled much of our actions this year. Fear of contamination, fear of loss, fear of the future and others I haven’t mentioned cause us to hide behind locked doors and closed windows.
Habits can grow and shape our lives for good.
The reason for my writing this post is to encourage you to continue with the healthy habits and routines, but to take care of your emotional health through these 5 ways.
- Take stock of your life and your family. How are things going? Are you feeling stressed, overwhelmed, afraid or anxious?
- Consider the sources feeding your emotional state? Are you reading too much news or listening to negative messages?
- What is your physical health like? Are you taking time to exercise or rest? When stress and fear rise, our healthy rhythms are often the first ones to go out the door.
- Who do you have around your table of advisors? I recently spoke on this topic in my parenting class. Together we compiled a list of people in our lives that are our allies, our cheerleaders, our advisors, counsellors, accountability partners and coaches. Where are the gaps and who can you ask to fill in the chairs?
- Start small. Most habits fail because too often we pick a lofty goal, utterly unattainable. Start small. Could it be that your goal is to find an exercise partner and then decide on an activity together? What about using one less spoon of sugar or drinking one less cup of coffee?
Why don’t resolutions or new habits stick?
Simply put, most people don’t follow through on their decisions is often due to attempting to do too much too soon. This actually sets yourself up for failure.
What is “Quitter’s Day?”
Did you know that research conducted by Strava using over 800 million user-logged activities in 2019 predicts the day most people are likely to give up on their New Year’s Resolution is January 19?
Secondly, Charles Duhigg, the author of The Power of Habit, and an expert on behavioural psychology suggests that most people fail to adopt new habits because they do not understand the structure of habits.
In a post on Quora about habits, the writer explains the Structure of Habits.
He says that we can break all habits down into three basic components:
- The Cue or Trigger: This is the part of the habit loop where you are triggered to take some sort of action through a cue in your internal or external environment.
- The Action: Good or bad, this is the part of the habit loop where you actually take action on the habit you want to adopt or drop.
- The Reward: This is the part of the habit loop where your brain receives a reward for taking the desired activity
Andrew Ferebee explains that most people fail to adequately reward themselves for taking action on a beneficial habit.
I couldn’t have said it better, so I’d like to quote the writer again:
“[Habits] need a little bit of help to get started.
For example, studies have shown that consuming a small amount of chocolate post-workout releases similar chemicals and neurotransmitters to those that will eventually be released by the workout itself.
Finding a motivating reward can be applied to any habit if you are creative enough:
- Eat dark chocolate after your workout.
- Buy a time based coffee maker that has a fresh cup brewed when you wake up.
- Reward yourself with 15 minutes of gaming after an intense 90 minute work session.
If you are struggling to make a new habit stick, then you probably are not aware or consciouly applying the habit loop.”
Well, that’s it for me. I’m off to buy some chocolate and hit the road for a run. Who is with me?