We're so used to doing some things that they no longer feel like a ‘habit’; they just feel like part of our daily lives. Showering, brushing our teeth and making a cup of tea are all habits – but they’re so ingrained that it might be hard to imagine not doing them.
Most of us try and build habits that make us healthier and happier, but that’s easier said than done. Forming a new habit is hard, but we want to make sure it doesn’t feel impossible. That’s why we’re here to support you to build habits that put you in charge of your health.
1. Start small
It’s a good idea to make a habit so easy that you just can’t say no. Try to change one or two habits at a time, rather than several. It’s harder to make lots of changes at once and it sets you up for failure – which can lead to a more general negative mindset.
The best way to change your habits is by starting small lifestyle changes that are easy to implement. As you begin to succeed, your confidence will improve – making it easier to tackle bigger changes.
You can make use of apps or a notebook to help you track your habits, which can be very motivating. There are even apps like Habitica which can help you turn your achieving your goals into a fun game rather than a chore.
2. Notice your thoughts
Thoughts are extremely powerful – they can even make you better when you’re sick. While they are very real and very powerful, they are just thoughts.
Even though thoughts can make you feel things, you can learn to not act on those feelings. The best way to do this is by practising mindfulness. As you become better at this, you’ll find it easier to stick to your habits. When you want to fall into your old patterns, you’ll notice that these temptations you might feel are just thoughts.
3. Find a partner
Humans are social creatures, so you might find an accountability partner or group can help you commit to a new habit. They can help you plan and strategise, praise you when you’ve done well and hold you accountable when you need it. They can be particularly effective if you have a competitive streak, and even better if you’re both competitive. Try and set up a regular check-in – it’s easier to stay motivated when you know you’re going to be checked up on soon!
4. Know your triggers
Willpower is all well and good, but it’s not easy. What’s much easier is to know what makes you break your habits, and why.
For example, if you know that when you’re tired, you’re more likely to reach for that bar of chocolate, you can try and keep good sleep hygiene. Or if you always drink a little more than you planned when with a particular friend, suggest going for a walk rather than going to the pub.
While all these tips might help, it’s up to you to ensure the habits stick. The key to building new habits is simply repetition. Doing something over and over again is so powerful, that it actually builds your brain cells. After enough repetition, it’ll no longer feel like an effort.