With our country in Lockdown, now is the perfect time to adopt a healthy habit! 💪🏽
What is a habit?
► Habits are actions that are automatically triggered in response to certain cues.
► Eg. Automatically putting your seatbelt on (habit) when you get into the car (cue).
► Repetition of this seatbelt action leads to the action being activated automatically when you get into the car. Therefore you don’t need to consciously pay attention or feel motivated to put your seatbelt on, you just do it. Minimal brain power is required for the task, because it has become automatic.
What happens in my brain when I create a habit?
When you first decide on a goal, the prefrontal cortex (which deals with decision-making) is activated.
But the basal ganglia in the midbrain needs to get fired up before the action becomes second nature. This is the area of our brain that handles taking on new, goal-driven behaviours and integrating them to become automatic.
Research on Habit Formation in Everyday Life
- One study by the University College of London had people choosing a single behaviour which would help their health (eg. Drink a bottle of water, run for 15 minutes) in response to a daily cue (eg. At breakfast). The aim was to embed the healthy habit into daily rituals to make the goal more achievable.
- The study found that it took 66 days on average for a behaviour to become second nature, but anywhere from 18 days to eight months.
- Interestingly, missing the odd day did not matter; gains were soon picked up after resuming the habit.
How can I get a new habit to stick?
- Pick a small goal that you will help your health
- Choose a simple daily action that will get you towards your goal
- Pick a time and place for your action
- Make sure it is somewhere you encounter every day of the week.
- Every time you encounter that time and place, do the action!
Be realistic with your expectations
Don’t judge yourself if you can’t master a habit in a few weeks! Stick at it, and within 10 weeks you should find the behaviour is more automatic.
I’m stuck – give me some ideas!
- Get up early – Tom Corley, an accountant/financial planner, surveyed 233 millionaires on their daily habits. Nearly 50% got out of bed at least three hours before their workday even started! 💡
- Stretch for 10 minutes after a shower, when your muscles are nice and warm 🕺🏻
- Squeeze in 2 more vegetable servings at lunch 🥦🥑
- Balance on one leg for a minute while you brush your teeth 🪥
- Think of 3 things you’re grateful for first thing in the morning 🙏
- Listen to a positive podcast whilst driving to work 😀
- Do 20 squats when you use the toilet 💪🏽
- Spend 5 minutes at the end of each day listening to and debriefing with your loved ones ❤️
- Join our Pilates classes – currently via Zoom until Level 2! 🕺🏻
We have an awesome book in the clinic, ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear, for anyone interested in kicking the bad habits and bringing in some good ones! Let us know how we can help you with your health today – Call 03) 443 1711