Five easy strategies on how to establish a healthy habit.
We all have good intentions. We plan to eat healthy, exercise, floss more, drink less, etc. But sometimes life just gets in the way! Whether you’re trying to make a healthy habit stick or would just like to break a bad one, we have good news for you. It can be done. It just needs to be done in the right way.
Take a Step Back
Before you can establish a healthy habit, it is wise to take a step back and observe your behavior. Speaking to News in Health, Dr. Lisa Marsch, an expert in behavior change at Dartmouth College said, “The first step to changing your behavior is to create awareness around what you do regularly. Look for patterns in your behavior and what triggers the unhealthy habits you want to change.”
Say your goal is to exercise more during the week. Think about what has been stopping you from going. Is it the time of day? The location of the gym? Write down all the barriers that have been stopping you. Now start making a plan to remove the barriers one by one.
Make a Plan
Don’t worry – you don’t need to come up with a 20-step program! Though for a habit to stick, it is important to make a plan. If your goal is to exercise more, take a look at your week and determine the times of day that work best for you. Set a schedule and stick to it. If physically going to the gym was stopping you, perhaps an at-home program will work for you. Whatever your barriers are, find ways to overcome them.
Consistency is Key
We’re sad to say that establishing a healthy habit doesn’t happen overnight (we wish!). Consistency is important. When you first set out to do something, you will need to consciously make an effort. For example, if your goal is to eat better try setting a meal plan for the week. Sunday could become your meal prep day. In the beginning, it will feel like you have to make a lot of effort but eventually, it will just become part of your routine. Over time, the habit will start feeling more automatic.
Divide and Concur
Sometimes our problem with establishing a healthy habit is that we try to do too much at once. In our effort to be healthier we decide we need a complete overhaul. Some people can do it and if you’re one of those people, more power to you! Though for most of us, tackling one or two goals at a time is more realistic.
Take one goal, make a plan, and work towards it until its part of your routine. Then move to the next. Biting off little chucks is easier than trying to tackle the entire thing.
Think Long Term
We are used to instant gratification, which can encourage unhealthy habits. When you find yourself backtracking on a healthy habit, try and think about the long term. Eating a healthy diet, exercising, and positive thinking all have substantial longterm benefits on your overall health and wellbeing.
Remember, change is a process and it takes time. Even the smallest change towards a healthier lifestyle has big benefits.