Habits can be a funny thing. In many instances, we are not even aware of some the routine behaviors and actions we engage in. But habits can be difficult to change, and even more challenging to establish and maintain. Fortunately, there is good news: some tried and true tricks and shortcuts exist in starting and maintaining healthy habits. And here are five of them!
5 Important Tips for Developing and Maintaining Healthy Habits
The key to developing healthy habits and maintaining them is to create brain pathways that make these behaviors automatic. In this regard, research has identified a few strategies that are more likely to work than others. By considering the following tips, your ability to make bold changes and realize good habits will be much improved.
- Start Small When Pursuing a New Healthy Habit
According to the old adage, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Instead, bold changes in your life start by taking small, calculated steps toward your goals. This is certainly true when it comes to habits. Your ability to establish and maintain good habits depends on your level of motivation. And the bigger the change, the more motivation will be required. By starting small and gradually pursuing the changes you want, healthy habits become easier to realize.
- Habit Stacking – A Proven Way to Create Good Habits
Have you ever heard of habit stacking? Habit stacking is simply where you link a new healthy habit to an existing one. For example, doing sit-ups every morning right after you brush your teeth would be an example of habit stacking. Or meditating a few minutes while having your morning cup of coffee might be another example. By linking the good habits that you want to existing ones, they become easier to adopt. This is a great technique for making positive changes in your current habits.
- Pave the Way for Success – Reduce Potential Barriers
Often, we fail to adopt good habits because of specific obstacles in the way. Having to change into athletic wear, cooking a healthy dinner at home, and other activities may involve additional efforts. Understanding this, be creative in solutions to reduce these barriers toward healthy habits. For example, lay out your exercise clothes in the evening to make your morning jog easier. Or fid easy-to-cook healthy recipes ahead of time to make the task less cumbersome. The fewer obstacles in the way, the better your chances for making bold changes in your life.
- Consistency Is Key – Create a Daily Habit
Research has shown that daily habits are much more likely to be adopted and maintained when compared to intermittent ones. This makes sense given the fact we are trying to establish new neuropathways in our brains. Our limbic systems like routines. By performing the same activity every day, the chance healthy habits will “stick” is increased. Even if the activity is no necessarily intense, daily behaviors will create good habits much faster than non-daily ones.
- Don’t Forget to Reward Yourself – Positive Reinforcements Are Important
For some habits, the reward is naturally enjoyed simply by completing the task. For example, you receive positive feedback of minty fresh breath after brushing your teeth. But for other habits, the reward is often delayed, which makes adopting good habits more challenging. Dieting habits and losing weight are great examples. As a result, it is also important to build in some rewards for your efforts. In doing so, you will be encouraged to persevere in your efforts to adopt healthy habits.
How Long Do Healthy Habits Take to Form?
With the above tips for healthy habits, you will be well on your way to creating bold positive change in your life. The more you stick to these strategies, the faster good habits will develop. While research suggests that the average time period for new habits is somewhere around 16 to 17 weeks, this varies. Differences exist based on the intensity of the behavior, its level of difficulty, barriers in the way, and your consistency. But a commitment to good habits will eventually be realized if the above guides are used. And maintaining such behaviors will be much easier thereafter.