Daily Practice

4 Foolproof Tips for Forming Healthy Habits

We always want to create — and more importantly, stick to — new healthy habits. But I’m pretty sure we can all agree on one thing: that’s way easier said than done.

By definition, a habit is not formed overnight. It takes time!

So, how can we finally create and stick to habits?

Habits, unsurprisingly, have been an area of interest to psychologists. They have determined that when you break down habit formation, it usually consists of repetition, making daily choices, using cues, and routines.

Now, how long does it take somebody to successfully implement these things to really form a habit? Well, one study found that among its participants, it took 66 days on average to really solidify their new healthy habit.

Based on the psychology behind forming habits, here are some actionable tips you can use to forming a new healthy habit:

Choose a “cue”: 

In studies regarding habits, people chose a cue to associate their habit with. The cue should be something you do daily. Think: eating a specific meal, brushing your teeth in the morning, getting into bed, or finishing the workday. Every time you do the cue, you implement the new behavior. Here are some examples of cues and possible habits, just so you get the idea.

  • After eating breakfast, take a few minutes to do some gratitude journaling.
  • After finishing dinner, go for a walk.
  • When you finish the workday, meditate.

You don’t have to use a cue, but according to research, this can help you remember to stick to the routine.

Start small:

It’s hard enough to form a habit, so don’t make it even harder by being too ambitious with your goal. For example, if you want to get in the habit of meditating every day after work to destress, start small. Instead of telling yourself, you need to meditate for 15 minutes daily, start with 3 minutes. This will be much easier for you to accomplish, which will make it more likely for you to actually do it.

Sometimes the hardest part of doing something is simply starting it, and if you’re dreading doing it because it’s going to take too long or it’s going to be too challenging, you’ll likely avoid it. So start small. Once you’ve mastered that, you can increase your goal.

Focus on the end goal or reward:

Why are you trying to make this new behavior a habit? Instead of thinking about how much work it’s going to be to change your ways, focus on the end goal. What’s your “reward” that you’re seeking? Maybe it’s better health, better mental health, less stress, being more in shape, becoming more spiritual...whatever it is, keep that “why” in mind.

You can also reward yourself as you make progress along the way. Give yourself a pat on the back for taking positive steps, and acknowledge the fact that you’re trying your best.

Have accountability buddies:

If you tell somebody else about your goal regarding your new habit, you’re more likely to stick with it. In fact, a study that was conduct found that telling somebody about a goal actually makes them 65% more likely to achieve it! It’s even better if that person can check in on you and your progress.

Furthermore, you can find someone else who is looking to implement the same habit, and you both can keep each other on track, or you can even do the activity together. For example, if your goal is to go on a walk every evening, see if you can enlist a family member, roommate, or neighbor to do it with you. Then, you’ll be less likely to bail, and you can push each other.

As we established, forming a new healthy habit isn’t easy! Be kind to yourself along the way, and be patient. Just try your best, and don’t give up. You got this.

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