How To Create Healthy Habits
Creating healthy habits takes both discipline and practice, especially if you have found yourself falling into ineffective behavior patterns. Fortunately, changing a habit just might be easier than you think.
If you are ready and willing to make lasting change, then you will be able to change your habits and enjoy a healthy lifestyle.
First, you will need to identify your unhealthy habits before you can begin to change them. One helpful way to do this is to keep a journal of your regular activities and habits.
A lot of the time, unhealthy actions have trigger points that you can identify. If you know what causes you to behave in a certain way, you can more easily avoid resorting to those patterns that are leading to poor health and the inability to live your best life.
After you have identified any unhealthy habits, it is time to try some pattern interrupters. A pattern interrupt, speaking in terms of a technique, comes from Neuro Linguistic Programming and is a way of changing a person’s mental, emotional, or behavioral state or strategy.
Instead of allowing yourself to run on autopilot so that your brain is doing whatever it wants to do and your body is following suit, you now have the ability to pause, slow down and make a different choice. You have the power to change your habits.
Here are some examples of old patterns you may fall into that do not serve you.
1) You find yourself heading to the break-room at work for unhealthy snacks to soothe your stress
2) Zoning out on the couch after work with a bag of chips
3) Diving head first into a pint of ice cream when you have an argument with your partner
How can you break free from the conditioned responses you’ve been operating from for so long?
1) Create awareness. You can’t change something if you’re not aware of the fact that it’s happening.
2) Observe the pattern while it is happening so you can pinpoint the exact moment where you sabotage. This is very important because this is the time where you need to establish a new behavior.
3) Practice the new behavior over and over until it becomes a new habit.
Here's an example:
Every day at 3pm you head to the break-room at work for unhealthy snacks. You have identified it is due to stress. You now want to interrupt this pattern by choosing something else to help manage your stress. Instead, you may opt to sit quietly in a room and meditate or practice breathing exercises or you may choose to leave the office and go for a walk. Every day at 3pm you now take a break to practice this new behavior.
"Author Steven Covey says it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Some people say it takes 40 days. The point is that consistency and repetition are necessary for you to create a new pattern and learn to do things differently than you have in the past".
Practice patience while changing behaviors. If you resort back to an old behavior, be gentle toward yourself. The goal here is to recognize the behavior before you do it. Then practice the new behavior at that exact moment. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Being able to identify ineffective behavior patterns and addressing them through a physical change in your neurons by interrupting them with positive change instead is a way to physically rewire your brain so that you are no longer a slave to your impulses.
And that is how you begin to create healthy new habits!
To your health & happiness,