Sometimes our beliefs about ourselves, our bad habits are like mental prisons. Would you like to exercise regularly, lose weight, stop smoking, eat better or sleep better …? Well, all this is possible provided you have the right ally at your side: good habits! They are the ones who will support your efforts and lead you to success.
A habit is behavior repeated so many times that it ends up becoming an automatic action, which seems to happen almost unconsciously or without any apparent external stimulus. In order to integrate healthy and positive habits into your daily life, you must try to transform the small actions consciously carried out into automatic actions.
What is a habit?
It is an action which by dint of being repeated becomes automatic, takes place with ease and without any particular effort of attention. It is no longer necessary to “want” to do something and it allows to bypass the usual decision process, like “yes-no … will I really do it?” “.
Now you are probably starting to understand why it is not so easy to acquire new/good habits. So how is it possible to transform controlled acts into automatic actions?
In this article, we offer a 5-step plan for acquiring good habits. Our advice will help you strengthen a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
ADOPT GOOD HABITS IN 5 STEPS
1. SET A GOAL
The first step in developing healthy lifestyles is to decide which ones you want to keep. To do this, you need to define your goals.
According to a study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, the definition of objectives is an essential technique that will make it possible to generate effective behavioral changes. ( 1 ) For researchers, it is important to set goals to maximize change.
Take enough time to clearly define what you want to achieve, what your needs are, how to get closer to yourself and what you really are… Once you have a clear vision, you can take the step next, ie define an action plan.
2. MAKE A PLAN
Once you have defined your goals, you need a concrete plan with realistic steps. What (small) actions are you going to implement and repeat over the long term, day after day, to get closer to your goal?
A study published in the British Journal of General Practice suggests that even small changes in your daily life can lead to significant changes in your behavior.
Here are some examples of behavioral adaptations from everyday life that you too could transform into habits:
- Start the day consciously, enjoy the moment. If you are already stressed in the morning, it will affect your mood and may affect your entire day. By allowing enough time in the morning to start quietly, think about what you are going to do or even meditate, you are preparing for a successful day.
- Enjoy a healthy breakfast. First, take the time to sit down rather than eating on the go. Not everyone has a big appetite in the morning, so remember to adapt your breakfast to your body’s needs. This first meal of the day should be rich in protein and contain good fat to give you enough energy and be attacking.
- Remember to drink a glass of water before leaving the house.
- Try taking a short walk during your lunch break.
- Plan a snack in the late afternoon. At this time of day, many people experience a drop in energy and/or a huge craving. Preparing a balanced homemade snack is a great idea!
- Prepare your own dinner. When you cook, you consume fewer calories and most of all you have complete control over the nutrients – the fuel – that you give to your body.
- Plan your workouts in advance. By training every day at the same time, you will create an automatism. Also, remember to take your sports gear with you if you are not dining at home.
- Read before going to bed. Reading helps your body and mind to let go and will help you fall asleep. This will put you in condition for a good night’s sleep.
- Make sure you sleep at least 7 hours a night. During the week, try to go to bed and get up at regular times.
3. BE CONSISTENT AND REGULAR
Studies show that repeating a single action helps turn it into a habit. But the context also makes it possible to strengthen the mechanism to facilitate its automatic execution. ( 3 )
In other words, if you always perform the same actions after certain events, your brain will automatically get used to this sequence.
For example, if you eat fruit instead of a chocolate bar every day after lunch, it will become a habit and over time you will not even miss this super sweet and caloric bar. This means that your brain will be programmed to eat apples or other fruits and will no longer demand chocolate and sugar at all costs!
Where to start? For example, to start your morning routine well, try meditation, or drink a glass of water after waking up or give yourself a quiet moment without a cell phone in the morning.
How long does it take you to internalize a habit? Studies show that it takes around two months for behavioral changes to take place and for the automation to take hold. The key to success is, therefore, consistency and regularity! The actions that you have repeated constantly for about two months will then become second nature.
4. DON’T LET CHESS STOP YOU
Of course, it is not always easy to reach a goal, and there can be failures. There will be days when you don’t follow your plan to the letter, when you skip your workout, give in to cravings and also when you don’t get enough sleep.
British researchers have shown that even if occasionally we do not perform certain actions that we had planned to do, it does not deeply disrupt the process of making a habit. ( 4 ) If the habit is well established, the automatic action will reappear.
Obviously you should not abuse it, because the less you maintain your good habits, the more it will be difficult to repeat them. So you can occasionally twist your plan from time to time, but don’t lose sight of your goal and get back on track as soon as possible!
But remember that the best is the enemy of the good. Take care that habits do not become obsessed and do not spoil your daily life. Make an effort to get into good habits, but don’t overdo it either! Plan a moment of rest and relaxation each week, just for you. Perhaps you should also take time to work on positive thinking or meditation. Be grateful to your body for everything it does for you every day. Pamper him!
What if you go for a walk in nature, do yoga, get a massage or read a good book on your sofa? Use this time to refresh your body and mind.
YOU ARE CLOSE TO THE GOAL
Even small changes can dramatically transform your daily life. Follow the 5 steps suggested in this article to adopt new healthy habits. You will also notice that you will get rid of bad habits on your own. So think positive to stay motivated, and you will soon see your goals come true!