“And once you understand that habits can change, you have the freedom and the responsibility to remake them.”- Charles Duhigg.
As human beings, why do we develop habits at all? Be it good or bad.
Smoking vs. non-smoking.
Abusing vs. non-abusing.
Brushing twice a day vs. not brushing at all.
It is a fact that humans are social beings, and we tend to develop certain habits which influence us easily. Most of us are habitual to things that negatively affect our physical and mental health. Why? Because they seem effortless and unchallenging.
Any routine that diminishes your cognitive abilities and physical fitness is definitely categorized under “bad habits.”
Forming good habits impacts your life in a meaningful and positive way. It needs commitment and willingness to develop these habits over time. Although behavioral change is crucial for negative patterns, it is also essential to focus on building good ones.
What Are Good Habits?
Good habits are positive behaviors that you practice constantly every day. They are meant to improve your well-being and your relationships with society. Generally, habits are actions that you do either consciously or subconsciously. In contrast, good habits are something that you do while calculating the consequences of that action.
Some might be habits that you do at home – actions you perform in the morning while getting ready for work or things you do before going to sleep, like using your phone, playing a game, etc. All these routines happen automatically, almost without thinking.
Yes, these are your subconscious behaviors – that develop into reflexes over time, but you can have control over them. These repetitive behaviors are supported by some automatic thought patterns.
How To Develop Good Habits?
Developing good habits should be simple, right? Not always. Why? Because we get comfortable doing the same old things every day. We often stick to a daily pattern without considering its consequences and effects. So, we never really ask the question of changing them. (1)
If one can observe, not all of our habits are good or healthy. We have the habit of watching television and snacking on chips and drinking alcohol, all at the same time. We are in the habit of smoking or overeating to relieve stress or to take out our frustrations on others. All these habits are worth changing. Don’t you think? But the big question is – where do we begin?
6 Easy Ways To Build Good Habits:
1) Recognize the habit:
Since we are engaged in numerous activities in our day-to-day life, we are no longer conscious of our practices. The very first thing is to become aware. Incorporate awareness in your life.
If you already have a physical or mental condition and are getting worse now, observe what you do every day. Perhaps the diet, smoking habit, or sedentary lifestyle could elevate your problem.
2) Decide a change and commit to it:
We all say it is time for a change – I should exercise more, stop smoking or eat healthily. But how many of us genuinely stick to it? Most of us procrastinate on every little thing.
Unfortunately, procrastinating will only make it harder to change a habit. The longer you wait for the efforts to put in, the worse your situation will get, especially something that concerns health. A conscious commitment and attention are needed to get the wheels moving in the direction you want.
3) Identify your triggers:
Knowing your triggers is key here. Without being aware of them will eventually set up failure for you. We often need some kind of support in the moments of our emotional disturbance. We then reach to drugs, alcohol, overeating, and other bad habits.
Finding a healthy alternative is important. Everyone goes through their fair share of bad days, but we need not resort to unhealthy or bad habits to deal with the stress.
4) Practice visualization or affirmations:
These are great ways to incorporate new habits into your life. Visualizing a positive outlook on life can heavily motivate you to be a better person each day.
Affirmations program your subconscious mind to develop new habits. Combined, they allow you to feel and see yourself carry out the good behaviors making it easier to create a healthy routine. Building good habits are more straightforward when employing both visualization and affirmations.
5) Get support from family and friends:
Let your close ones know what you are trying to achieve. When they come to realize that you are serious about changing your habits, not only they will help you get away from your temptations, but also encourage you with moral support. Encouragement is all we need to help achieve our goals faster.
6) Reward yourself in healthier ways:
Why do we develop bad habits in the first place? It is clear that some things make us feel good, even if it is for a short while. That feeling is meant to reduce the levels of stress, sadness, etc.
You might over-eat and feel good while doing it, but then you may feel too bad about yourself that you ate so much. The same goes for drinking and smoking.
During the act, you may feel relaxed and easy, however, too much of both will make you feel guilty and create an urge to quit. All of this can be avoided when you reward yourself after doing something well. It could be anything like watching a movie, reading a book, meeting up with your friends, or going to your favorite concert.
The amazing thing about good habits is that once you start doing them repeatedly, they eventually become automatic. Anything that you do for a long time with consistency will become a habit by itself and then you no longer have to put effort into it.
10 Good Habits To Improve Physical And Mental Health
Certainly, habits are necessary to sustain our well-being. Habits that put meaning into our lives, getting us closer to living a happy and successful life. While there is a lot of attention on breaking bad habits, the same amount of attention should be given to cultivating good habits in our daily routine.
1) Wake up early in the morning:
In this day and age, most of us have become habitual to sleep late at night. We may watch late-night movies, chat with friends, or simply scroll through social media. All of this contributes to waking up late during the day, thereby lowering your productivity.
Waking up early helps you calculate your activities throughout the day, and improves your day-to-day productivity. It also encourages you to develop better habits and plan your schedule to maintain health and work. (2)
2) Habit of healthy eating:
While we spend most of our time eating junk food that serves our taste buds, it is crucial to observe how it affects our physical and mental health. Eating food that doesn’t provide you with enough nutrition but just carbohydrates and fats can make you feel lazy, lethargic, and unmotivated to even get up from your bed.
Follow up on a healthy diet that keeps you active and energetic all day long. Notice the amount of good you eat on a daily basis and gradually become more aware of what and how you eat. When it becomes a habit, you will see significant changes in your mood, physique, and mental health.
3) Get off your couch, move around:
Sitting on your couch relentlessly every day doesn’t only make you unproductive but also affects your health big time. Conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and hypertension have been known to cause due to sedentary lifestyle.
Walk around now and then, even if you are working. Except for the conditions mentioned earlier, sitting for long periods also negatively impacts your musculoskeletal structure. Employ the habit of being physically active to maintain healthy body weight, better mental health, and overall a good quality of life.
4) Mind your speech:
We all feel frustrated and angry, but how many of us are really aware of the feelings that arise? We get mad and say things that we regret later. A huge number of conflicts happen due to communication errors. It is not that we are wrong, but most of the time, emotions get the best of us, making us do things that are not good for us or others.
One of the good habits we should consider is speaking kindly and maturely. Humans have a natural tendency to be empathic, but sometimes we do not seem to realize how meaningful relationships are. You can’t undo what you said to other people. The only thing you can really do is be kind at every moment of your life. That’s how you protect and value your relationship with other people.
5) Be Mindful of what you do:
Mindful living is one of the most important things to employ in our lives. It is all about the present, the now. When was the last time you were conscious about what you ate or looked up at the sky while out for a walk? You eat your food every day, but are you paying attention to the nutrition values that your body needs?
You have eaten your meals millions of times, but have you ever chewed your food with great attention as though it’s your first time? Doing all these things indicates that you are living your life with great profoundness, which means paying attention to everything you do. That’s what life is all about. Is it not?
6) Avoid or quit alcohol and tobacco:
Alcohol and cigarettes are known to cause millions of deaths every month. They make you addicted and it is often hard to quit if you are already a heavy drinker or smoker.
Limit or minimize the amount of alcohol you intake each day and gradually put an end to it, or you can even drink occasionally, which is not so much of a problem. The same goes for cigarettes, but there is no going back in this case. (3)
7) Correct your posture:
Most of us tend to sit casually and recklessly while working, playing games, or watching television. Doing this every day becomes an unconscious habit that leads to back and neck pain and other health-related problems.
Be aware when you sit, either on a chair or on the floor. If you notice that you are slouching and not sitting correctly, change your posture. Initially, your back might hurt when you try to sit upright. That’s because you were rarely using your back muscles. To be healthy and sound, make sure to create a habit of sitting correctly (and sleeping).
8) Build patience:
Patience is essential to achieving what you desire. We often act impulsively when dealing with challenging situations, thereby losing various opportunities. A moment of impatience can create a disaster for your whole life. We all have encountered impatience. But do we have the kind of energy to build patience?
Absolutely yes! Patience is a virtue that every human should possess and cultivate. It makes us more resilient, emphatic, and understanding. It helps us take a step back and analyze the situation when we feel overwhelmed. It takes us on a path to living a more happy and peaceful life.
9) Stay hydrated:
Keeping yourself hydrated is crucial to dealing with various health issues. Being hydrated doesn’t only mean drinking tons of water but eating fruits and vegetables with high water content.
Water is essential to avoid headaches, fatigue, and loss of energy. So, make sure to drink sufficient water and eat high water content food.
10) Talk less, listen more:
Listening is an art by itself. Many of us love to talk and often believe that others need to hear. The thing that goes unnoticed is when we do the talking; we are typically not listening to what others have to say, which means there is not a whole of understanding and learning.
When you listen rather than just mumbling, you appreciate others’ feelings and opinions, making them feel valued. You focus on responding which is more important than reacting on a superficial level.
To conclude, good habits are more about learning and appreciating things in life. One of the huge benefits of adopting healthy habits is that we get to do them forever. By focusing on good habits, you will ensure long-lasting happiness and health.