Your behavior depends largely upon the habits you cultivate- knowingly or unknowingly. Healthy habits naturally translate into a healthy life and a positive outlook. Your brain loves the novelty of learning things, wiring and rewiring those little circuits, and developing new habits fits the bill! It’s a new experience that influences your lives and helps to bring a routine into it. Habits actually reflect in your behavior towards others.
Different people strive to form different habits and there are no set rules for the time frame taken to build one. It varies from person to person and depends on their persistence and desire to achieve it. It also depends on the difficulty, simpler habits like drinking a glass of water as soon as you wake up, are easier to form, than difficult tasks like exercising for an hour every day.
Ultimately, it boils down to finding inspiration to be consistent and persevere till you achieve those healthy habits and healthy life!
What are habits?
They are actions that you perform in response to contextual cues which are triggered automatically when a person is exposed to those cues. Repeating these actions consistently over some time makes it effortless once a habit is ingrained. For example, closing the doors to your house when you go out. Such actions come automatically to you because of repetition. Hence, being exposed to a cue and consciously responding repeatedly with positive intentions helps in converting it into automatic habits. Once a habit is formed, the motivation seems to wane, losing its sheen, but it has been found that it is not difficult to maintain a habit, once formed.
The truth behind the 21-day rule
In the 1950’s Maxwell Maltz, a plastic surgeon wrote in his book, Psycho Cybernetics about how he noticed his patients taking a minimum of 21 days to get used to changes to their body after surgery. He diligently studied these findings and came up with this conclusion. With the boom of modern-day self-help teachings, the “minimum” part had been conveniently omitted, which led to the belief that it took only 21 days to form a habit. The reality however is that it takes an average of 66 days to form one, according to research. Don’t be disheartened! Being aware of this information allows room for mistakes and mess-ups, and gives you a heads-up that this journey is going to be a long, albeit rewarding one.
How do you form these healthy habits?
Let’s take you down that path. There are 3 phases to making habits–
- Initiation phase (cue/trigger) – this involves selecting your target habit and the context or cue. The trigger acts as a reminder and sets forth a cascade of activities – like morning/ bedtime routines. The triggers can range from places to people, just something to trigger the action.
- Learning phase (routine) – this is where you execute the action and repeat them when faced with a cue. Repetition leads to automaticity and your persistence and determination is put to the test!
- Stability phase (reward) – Here, the desired habit has been formed. The key here is perseverance, even if you falter, pick yourself up and complete it. Reward yourself for striving religiously and maintaining it. Positive reinforcements work wonders to your mind which seeks validation.
Tips and tricks that can help you along this healthy life journey
- Set simple tasks when you’re starting. Begin with small targets that are achievable, realistic, and can be implemented easily. During these unprecedented times when working at home has become the norm, think over a few activities that can help you ease into the office culture once you’re called back. For example, you could work in formal clothes while at home! Make a solid plan and be persistent.
- Be aware that it may take some time. Set small milestones and reward yourself when you reach them. Don’t get demotivated and give up if you find it difficult. Instead, reflect on what went wrong, change plans if required, and track your progress. Having a good support system like family and friends eases the job.
Healthy habits convert into a healthy life and consciously working towards building a few practical habits is definitely a rewarding experience!