We all have tried to start new healthy habits such as exercising more and many of us have trouble sticking to it. We start off well and then run out of steam. Here is one strategy for making it stick.
First start out small. Don’t plan on suddenly working out for an hour a day, five days a week if you haven’t been working out at all in the past few years. Think small and build your way up. If you want to start running 5 miles a day three days a week, think about starting this new healthy habit by walking a quarter mile a day, but make sure you start doing it on a regular basis.
Smart Way to Start New Healthy Habits
Next, use what is called Habit Stacking. The best success of initiating a new habit is by using time and place cues. This means that if we mentally associate a habit with a particular time and place, we are more likely to do the habit. If we start associating a new habit with a certain time and place, we will be triggered to perform the habit when we are in that time and location.
Secondly, we all have certain things we do habitually everyday. I wake up every morning and get out of bed. I make coffee every morning, and I brush my teeth every morning. If you want to start a new habit, attach it, or stack it, onto one of these habits. For example, I’ve started a new habit where every morning after I get out of bed, I immediately hit the floor and do sit-ups and push ups. This is a small healthy habit that will gradually lead to bigger healthy habits. My goal is to begin working out every morning before work. I stacked the new habit to an existing habit (getting out of bed). I started small with only a couple of exercises–sit ups and push ups.
Lately, I notice that if something happens to disrupt this new healthy habit routine, I feel weird that I didn’t do it, and feel compelled to do it right then. This is the formation of a habit. It involves a cue (getting out of bed), the habit itself (exercise), and a reward (feeling good that I did something healthy).
If you want to start a new healthy habit, try this technique
For more information about creating and keeping healthy habits, contact me.
Gary Watson is a Solution Focused Therapist in Grand Rapids Michigan. He provides counseling for couples, counseling for teenagers, and adults. He provides counseling for anxiety, depression, stress, college and work stress, and relationship problems. For more information, please visit the website at www.turnaboutcounseling.com.