Every day we do things that affect our health that we hardly even think about. Some of them are good like munching on carrots while cooking dinner. But others may not be helping us reach our goals, like grabbing cookies after dinner. They’re habits.
These are behaviors that we’ve developed around a set of circumstances like the time of the day or our location. Once we’ve got them, they’re hard to break. That can be bad if they’re not useful, but great if they’re beneficial.
If you can replace the habits that aren’t helping with ones that are, you can make long lasting changes that will become a part of your normal routine. Habits usually develop without much effort but intentionally changing or creating them can take a bit of work.
- Become aware of your unhealthy habits. Think about things that have become a part of your routine that aren’t helping you reach your goals.
- Set your goals. You need to know what you want to accomplish so you can determine what changes you want to make.
- Think about how your current habits developed. What are the circumstances foster the behavior? What could you do differently?
- Choose some new habits that you would like to develop. What changes will you need to make?
- Reconsider your routines. When do you get up? When do you go to work? When do you eat supper? What small changes could you make to help you reach your goals?
Don’t try to do too much at once. Just making one or two changes at a time can make a big difference. Sometimes it’s simple things like putting fruits and vegetables easily accessible toward the front of the refrigerator. If you spend too much time sitting during the day, try standing up during phone calls or stretching at the top of the hour.
If you’re having a hard time making a new habit stick, take a look at why. What happens that gets in the way? Can you make some changes to make it easier?
Some good habit examples:
- Keep sunscreen on your bureau so it’s easier to put on in the morning.
- Walk up the stairs if it’s less than three flights.
- Go to the produce aisle first when you go grocery shopping and load up on fresh foods.
- Keep your gym clothes together so it’s easy to get them on when you want to work out.
- Set your annual exam and mammogram around a special date so you’ll remember to make the appointments.
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