A habit is an action which, by dint of being repeated, becomes automatic, is carried out with ease and without any particular effort of attention.
Struggling to stick to your workout plan, cook your own meals regularly, or spend your evenings reading instead of watching Netflix? So that means you haven’t yet been able to develop a certain behavior through habit formation.
The key to adopting good habits, is to try to gradually transform the small actions carried out consciously into automatic actions.
Now you are probably beginning 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 you a 5-step plan to adopt good habits over the long term. Our advice will help you reinforce a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
ADOPT GOOD HABITS IN 5 STEPS
- SET A GOAL
The first step in adopting healthy lifestyle habits is determining which ones you want to maintain. To do this, you need to define your goals.
According to a study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, goal setting is an essential technique for generating effective behavioral change.
Take enough time to really think about what you want to accomplish, what your needs are, how to get closer to yourself and who you really are. Once you have a clear vision, you can move on. next step, that is defining an action plan.
- MAKE A PLAN
Once you’ve set your goals, you need a concrete plan with realistic milestones. What (small) actions are you going to implement and repeat over time, day after day, to get closer to your goal?
A study in the British Journal of General Practice suggests that even small changes in your daily life can lead to big changes in your behavior.
Here are some examples of behavioral adaptations from everyday life that you too could turn into long-term habits.
Start the day consciously, enjoy the present moment. If you are already stressed in the morning, it will influence your mood and may affect your whole day.
By setting aside enough time in the morning to start quietly, think about what you are going to do, or even meditate, you set yourself up for a successful day.
Enjoy a healthy breakfast. First of all, take the time to sit down rather than eat on the go.
Not everyone has a big appetite in the morning, so consider tailoring your breakfast to your body’s needs.
This first meal of the day should be high in protein and contain good fats to give you enough energy and power.
Remember to drink a glass of water before starting the day.
Try to do some exercise during your lunch break: a few movements to relax your neck and shoulders or a little bodyweight session to stay active on a daily basis.
Pack a healthy snack for late afternoon. At this time of day, many people experience low energy and/or huge food cravings.
Prepare your own dinner. When you cook, you consume fewer calories and most importantly you have complete control over the nutrients, the fuel, that you give your body.
Plan your workouts in advance. By training every day at the same time, you will create an automatism.
Read before going to bed. Reading helps your body and mind let go and will make it easier to fall asleep. This will set you up for a good night’s sleep.
Make sure you get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. On weekdays, try to go to bed and get up at regular times.
Learn how to manage your stress better. When things don’t go as planned, it’s tempting to give up certain habits. Find your little ritual to release tension.
- BE CONSISTENT AND REGULAR
Studies show that repeating a simple action helps turn it into a habit. But the context also makes it possible to reinforce the mechanism to facilitate its automatic execution.
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 do exercises every morning before having breakfast, it will quickly become something automatic.
This means that by regularly adopting this physical activity before your breakfast, your brain will be gradually programmed to play sports and you will no longer have to ask yourself the question.
A good way to get started is to choose habits that you would like to add to your morning routine, such as meditation, or something simple like drinking a glass of water after waking up or giving yourself some quiet time without a cell phone, the morning.
How long does it take you to internalize a habit? Studies show that it takes about two months for behavioral changes to occur and for automatisms to set in.
The key to success is therefore consistency and regularity! The actions that you have repeated constantly for about two months will then become like second nature.
- DON’T LET FAILURES STOP YOU
Of course, it is not always easy to achieve a goal, and there can be failures. There will be days when you don’t stick to your plan, skip your workout, give in to food cravings, and also don’t get enough sleep.
British researchers have shown that even if we occasionally do not perform certain actions that we had planned to do, this does not profoundly disrupt the process of habit formation. If the habit is well anchored, automaticity of the action will reappear.
Obviously you should not abuse these exceptions, because the less you maintain your good habits, the more difficult it will be to repeat them.
You can therefore make a few deviations from your plan from time to time, but do not lose sight of your objective and get back on track as soon as possible!
But remember that the best is the enemy of the good. Make sure the habits don’t become obsessive and add stress to your daily life. Make an effort to form good habits, but don’t overdo it either!
Plan a moment of rest and relaxation each week, just for you. Maybe you should also take some time to work on positive thinking or meditation. Be grateful to your body for all it allows you to do every day. Pamper it!
Why not do a little yoga session, read a good book on the couch or just relax? Use this time to rejuvenate your body and mind.
Even very small changes can transform your daily life in a radical way. Follow the 5 steps proposed 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⸱e, and you will soon see your goals come true!