Studies show that about 50% of people’s daily activities are habit-driven. (Source: Helping You Engineer Your Future http://www.helpingyouengineeryourfuture.com/habits-work-smarter.htm) That’s almost half our day! It’s so easy to get stuck in our day-to-day habits. We try a routine, find what works, and stick to it—be it a specific route to work, a time to get up, or a go-to snack from the fridge. Whether you’re looking to break a bad habit or just want to shake up your daily routine for the better, below are five tips for creating healthy habits.
1. Begin with small goals
Aim to start with short exercises such as parking further from the store entrance, taking the stairs, or planning brief, short walks. Keeping the goal small at first increases the likelihood that you will repeat the action.
2. Schedule the time. Make sure to plan a time each day for your new healthy habits. If your health goals include walking every day, ensure that it is planned and made into a priority. Ideally, this should occur at the same time every day to help build a habit out of it.
3. Connect the action to an existing habit. You can plan your walks following dinner or immediately before brushing your teeth. Make the connection between the current daily activity and the new activity you want to add to the day.
4. Find a friend to come along with you. Keeping an activity going and turning it into a habit can become a lot easier if you have a friend come along with you. Going for a walk can seem like less of a chore and become more enjoyable if you have a friend come with you to share the experience with. It can turn a dreaded activity into a social event that you like doing.
5. Find the consequence of not repeating the activity. If you suffer a direct and obvious consequence from not engaging in a healthy activity, it can help force you into repeating the healthy activity. Far off penalties don’t always motivate us in the same way as more immediate penalties. These consequences can be the disappointment of a friend or being charged for an exercise class you missed. Anything you place a value on that you may lose can become a cost of not doing the activity.
Interested in more wellness counseling? Call 407-644-7671 to schedule an appointment with a JFS counselor today! Medicare, Medicaid and almost all commercial insurances are accepted. In addition, we’re one of the few remaining agencies in Central Florida that operates on a sliding fee scale (as low as $55 per session) for those who do not have insurance or have an insurance we do not accept.
Ashlyn Douglass-Barnes, LCSW is the Clinical Director and a licensed clinical social worker at JFS Orlando. Ashlyn has worked in a variety of settings including outpatient community based mental health, inpatient/admission psychiatric hospital, substance abuse/DUI, dialysis/medical, and in home/office outpatient therapy.