How To Develop a New Healthy Habit
Tips for Creating New Healthy Habits
We often believe that establishing a new healthy habit is an act of will. We think that if only we’re strong enough, we can force ourselves to make some new activity a regular part of our lives. Thankfully this isn’t true. Sticking to a new healthy habit isn’t a matter of having a strong will or being super motivated; it’s about establishing a new pattern in your life.
You can set yourself up for success with your new healthy habits by following a few simple rules.
Pair your new healthy habit with an existing habit
One good way to establish a new habit is by pairing it with something you already do. For example, if you want to remember to take a new supplement, you might do it right after you brush your teeth in the morning. Or if you want to start doing some stretches every day, you might do it as soon as you get out of bed in the morning. Stacking your new habit with a habit you already have will make you more likely to stick with the new habit.
You’re more likely to succeed with your new habit if you start small. For example, if you want to eat better, you might include an apple in your lunch every day. Or, if you want to add more steps into your daily routine, you might park farther away from your office door or take the steps instead of the elevator. Beginning with a small thing will make you more likely to stick to your new habit with the aim of building on your success when you’re ready.
Another good way to establish a new healthy habit is by doing it every day. For example, if you want to add more movement into your daily routine, you could take a walk at lunch time. Or if you’d like to decrease your phone time, you could buy an alarm clock rather than using your phone to wake up in the morning. This way, you keep your phone out of the bedroom so that you aren’t tempted to peek at the screen before you go to bed or first thing in the morning. Although it can take a while to embed a new routine, your chances of making it permanent are greater if you do it every day.
Make it easy
Starting a new habit isn’t easy, so start with something manageable. For example, if you want to drink more water, get yourself a water bottle that you can keep near you all day so that you’ve always got water at hand. If you’re trying to stretch each morning, keep an exercise mat on the floor so that you don’t have to find it and unroll it to get started. Making it easy for yourself to start a new habit, will make it easier for you to continue with it.
Enlist a buddy
One good way to create a new routine is to enlist a friend or family member to do it with you. For example, if you want to try a new eating plan, it helps if some (or all) members of your family do it with you. If you want to move more, ask a friend, colleague, or neighbor to walk with you every day. If you don’t have anyone to do the activity with you, ask a friend to check in with you about the new habit the next time you talk. Having someone connect with you about your goal will help you stick with it. Being accountable to other people helps you stay accountable to yourself.
When you are keeping to your new habit, give yourself a reward every now and then. A little celebration will help keep you motivated — and you deserve it! Try to make the reward something healthy too. For example, once you’ve accomplished a month of walking every day, buy yourself some new walking socks or download an audiobook or podcast you’ve been looking forward to hearing for your next walk. Or call your best friend and share your success with them. A healthy reward system will help keep you on track with your new healthy habit.
Banish negative thinking
Approaching new healthy habits with a success or failure mindset often leads to failure. One missed opportunity can cause us to admonish ourselves for not being committed or sufficiently strong-willed. This negative feedback loop may cause you to give up trying. Rather than berating yourself when you don’t complete your goal for the day, remember that there’s always another chance. Commit to trying again at your next opportunity.
Bring balance into your life by allowing yourself to take a 70/30 approach to your new healthy habits. Commit to your new habit 70% of the time and give yourself permission to relax your goals 30% of the time — if you want to. In this way, you take the pressure off yourself to be perfect. This is helpful during times when sticking with your goals may be difficult such as healthy eating around the holidays. If you know that you will get back to your habit as soon as you can, you’ll be less likely to give up on your goals completely. Get back on track when possible, and don’t worry about the occasional slip up.
Reach for a helping hand
A natural health consultation with Dr. Kristine Devillier can help get you started on your path to better health. Dr. Devillier is a board-certified naturopath and master herbalist. She brings more than 20 years’ experience and a wealth of knowledge about natural health to each consultation — providing practical, easy-to-follow advice on everything from sleep to diet to exercise. Dr. Devillier creates a custom-made plan for your life no matter how busy you are and how many obstacles you think you may have.
If you want to improve your health using a combination of traditional and alternative techniques, give us a call on 337-332-2705 or reach us online for more information. We offer natural health consultations in Breaux Bridge, Lafayette, and the entire Acadiana area.