Our brains are always forming habits. Whether you want to or not, habit formation is simply the creation of a path in your brain that helps you to automatically do one thing effortlessly. Once you learn how to walk, you don’t have to think about it. Instead, you can think about your destination. A keystone habit is a daily practice that can improve your life. By putting good habits in place, you can do them automatically and focus on your goals. Keystone habits include behaviors such as
- daily exercise
- keeping a food journal
- getting up early, or at the same time each day
- setting a regular bedtime
- daily meditation or spiritual practice
Good keystone habits can be remarkably effective indicators of success. For example, people who make their bed are more likely to be homeowners. Even more important, strong keystone habits make hard choices easier. If one of your keystone habits is to drink water or iced tea instead of soda or beer, you can greatly reduce your risk of gum and liver disease. Challenging choices disappear with strong keystone habits in place.
Habits Form Regardless of Effort
If you have to stay up late one night and need a nap the next day, it’s likely you won’t be able to sleep the next night. A daily nap can become a habit in a short time. If your schedule allows, this isn’t a problem, but for many of us a daily nap simply isn’t possible, so a bad or unsustainable habit must be broken. Again, it’s critical to remember that habits are automatic behaviors. If you learn to floss and brush your teeth before bed early in your life, you always find time for it in adulthood. In fact, if you’re in a situation where you can’t floss and brush, you may have a hard time falling asleep. Habits are formed around triggers. Turning off the alarm is a trigger. Next, your habit takes over. You can either get up (healthy habit) or hit the snooze button (unhealthy habit.) Your day will either be better or worse for how you respond to your triggers. For example, you may feel tired or bored each day around three. To spice up your day, you head to the candy machine or to the M&M jar on the desk of a friendly co-worker. A dose of sugar may perk you up, but this daily habit becomes automatic and leads to weight gain and may cause tooth decay. How do you stop your daily candy bar habit? By changing the response to your triggers.
Triggers can include
- the place: your workspace
- the time: 3 pm
- other people: the person who keeps candy on their desk
- an emotion or feeling: boredom
- the preceding behavior: yawn and stretch because you’re sleepy
By managing your response to these triggers, you can break the candy habit and replace it with a better choice. For example, you might go fill up your beverage cup with cold water instead of soda and take a short walk around the office to boost your energy. You might choose to keep interesting articles in a folder on your computer to read when you need a brain break at 3 pm. Either of these choices can ultimately help you manage your weight and lower your dental bills. Habits are automatic behaviors you build through conscious or unconscious repetition. If your life is out of control, take a hard look at your basic habits. Do you struggle to keep your boss happy because you don’t get up on time? Strive to gain control of that part of your life by setting a new trigger, such as setting the alarm on your phone and putting the phone across the room.
Now you have to get up to turn it off, and once you’re up, you might as well get moving. By making productive, healthy options easier to achieve, you can make them habitual. Your brain is working to make your life easier, but you will need to realize what the triggers of your unhealthy habits are so you can create a better response. Call us at 833-846-5669.