A change in bad habits leads to a change in life. – Jenny Craig
The human body is nature’s best machine, constantly learning and adapting to its environment.
The things you do consistently on a daily basis – be it waking up and getting dressed to hustle for the day, going to the gym for a quality workout session, motivating yourself to attend a class, or something as simple as forcing yourself to get up, walk, and overcome chronic pain – eventually transform into healthy habits. What this simply means is that with a little dedication and hard work, nothing is impossible.
And I can say that confidently because I have experienced and verified this fact myself. Believe it or not, there was a time when I couldn’t even walk properly. Every step was a challenge. At first, I could only walk 4 steps before I was either too exhausted or in too much pain to continue. One day, while I was suffering from this pain, I realised that the only way I was going to change my life around and overcome my problems was by developing a positive habit. For this purpose, I attached positive emotions of freedom and achievement with walking and this got me practising 6 to 10 times a day!
However, it wasn’t easy. I needed to maintain my strength. I even increased my walking time to 20 minutes a day. This, believe it or not, was probably more challenging than learning to walk again as I struggled to associate a positive reward. Every time I succeeded, I celebrated. But along the way, there were many times when I made up excuses to not practice walking and it significantly affected my progress. For example, when it rained, I had the perfect excuse to not walk outside. As a result, I would then not walk for a month or so and would later have to start right at the beginning. It took several attempts but, after some time, walking became a good habit for me.
The purpose of sharing this story is to make you realise that it’s never too late to adopt good habits and let go of bad ones. In this blog post, I will help you understand habits and teach you how to reprogram your mind to develop healthy ones and make them stick.
The only thing that you need to understand about habits is that they start developing when we start associating positivity with them. This applies to both good and bad ones. Let’s take the example of a smoker. The seemingly pleasant and relaxing rush of nicotine that a person experiences with the first few cigarettes is enough to get them hooked. They perceive that rush as a positive experience and eventually become a habitual smoker. What they don’t realise in the process is how devastating smoking is to their health!
Now, let’s take an example of a positive habit. An overweight person who wants to get in shape and improve their overall health decides to join the gym. At first, the strain of exercise might seem overwhelming to them but if they associate a positive feeling with everything and start to notice their progress (experiencing weight loss, not feeling out of breath while going up a flight of stairs, etc.) and celebrate their success, they will definitely be able to make it a habit!
Hence, to conclude, when it comes to developing a good habit, you need to look for positive emotions that will motivate you to stick with them and reprogram your mind!
Tips to make new, healthy habits stick
It’s within our nature to find it challenging to feel good about adopting healthy habits. Going for a run, hitting the gym, altering your diet, taking time out to do some yoga or doing anything out of the ordinary for the sake of your health can all be difficult at first, especially if you are battling illness and pain. However, by keeping the following tips in mind, you can easily make your healthy habits stick:
Make weekly goals
While I was struggling to walk, the one thing I realised was that by developing a plan and setting goals, things got a whole lot easier and I managed to muster up the courage to overcome my pain. You should try it out too.
For example, let’s say you have just started to work out at the gym. You can set weekly goals, like doing at least 10 push-ups or running for half an hour on the treadmill every day for a week. Such goals will help you challenge yourself and gather the motivation to do what needs to be done, one step at a time.
Celebrate every success
When it comes to developing good habits, it’s highly crucial that you immediately celebrate your successes. This will aid in associating positive experiences/rewards with your activities. This celebration could be anything, provided that it isn’t harmful to your health! For example, after having a good morning run, you could treat yourself to a soothing bath. Or at the end of the week, after having reached all your goals, you could schedule a relaxing massage therapy – basically, anything that would keep you right on track and motivate you to repeat the healthy activities over and over again until they become healthy habits!
Remember: Consistency is key!
As an ending note, I would like to remind you that making good habits stick has a lot to do with how consistent you remain. Remember the action-reward technique of associating positive experiences with your activities and you will definitely be able to embrace a healthier and happier life. Best of luck!