New Year, New Habits!

June 25, 2024

Positive Pairings & Break Negatives

My favorite method for developing a new habit is pairing them! Sometimes called habit stacking, it's about connecting something you already do consistently with the new habit you want to adopt. 

For example, if you need to take medicine twice a day, you can pair it with brushing your teeth. If you brush your teeth twice a day without fail, keep your medicine next to your toothbrush as a reminder. Want to wear sunscreen more regularly? Pair it with putting on makeup if that's something you do every day. Lunch breaks can also serve as reminders for new habits, like taking midday medication or doing a short yoga session.

But sometimes, there are negative pairings we need to break. For instance, the evening TV-snacking routine. If you're trying to stop late-night snacking, consider changing your evening routine. Maybe try reading, playing a board game, doing yoga, or another activity instead of watching TV to disrupt that habit loop.

The Power of Routine and Scheduling

Tip number two is all about routines, something our brains love. Just like kids thrive on routine, so do our adult brains. When starting a new habit, having a dedicated time and place for it in your day or week can be a game-changer.

Start by honestly assessing your weekly schedule to figure out where this new habit can fit realistically. Let's say it's working out—when would you most likely succeed? Mornings before work? During a lunch break? Right after work? Maybe on weekends?

An example is setting aside time for reading before bed, just 10 minutes earlier than usual to get some reading done. Meal prepping is another great habit that needs dedicated time—maybe Sundays for grocery shopping and prepping meals for the week.

These examples illustrate how scheduling or creating a routine can be incredibly helpful in establishing and maintaining new habits. So, find those time slots and protect them to make your new habit a regular part of your life.

Easy Habits for Long-Term Commitment

Third tip is about making your habits as easy as possible. If a goal or habit feels too difficult, it's less likely to stick. So, let's start with food habits. If you're aiming to eat healthier, think about ways to make healthy food more accessible. Consider getting food delivered or buying pre-cut veggies and fruits if that makes it easier for you.

If time is the issue, schedule a specific time for food prep during your week. Maybe Sunday afternoon becomes your food prep time. Alternatively, sign up for meal services that offer healthier options if that suits your lifestyle better.

Also, think about the convenience factor. Choosing a gym or yoga studio closer to home or work makes it more likely for you to stick to your workout routine. Being realistic about what's feasible within your daily life will set you up for success.

Another simple trick is to keep a water bottle with you. If you tend to forget it, having multiple bottles—one at work and one at home—can ensure you always have access to water.

Remember, the key is to make your goals doable. If your aim is daily exercise, it doesn't have to be a specific routine or intensity. Five minutes of stretching counts just as much as a long run. Starting small allows you to build the habit and gradually increase intensity or duration as you get comfortable. So, make your habits easily achievable within your current lifestyle. Starting small and making things more convenient sets you up for success in the long run.

Disclaimer: This blog provides general information and discussions about health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that have read on this blog or in any linked materials. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before starting new diet, supplement, medication, exercise, or other health plan. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or emergency services immediately. The opinions and views expressed on this blog and website belong that only of the author of that blog article and not any organizations they may represent.
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