Developing Healthy Habits is Easier than you Think
Conquer Small Things
From morning exercises to making your bed, developing small positive habits serve as a keystone to help reinforce your success in developing all good habits-small and large.
Commune With A Cloud About Your Exercise Habits
There are several free habit-tracking apps on the market. Such as StickK, Habit Streak and Lift, which asks you to choose goals that you'd like to transform into habits (such as "Run," "Read," and "Sleep 8 Hours") while sending alerts to your phone, reminding you to perform these tasks and prompts you to report on your progress. It's a social too as well, allowing friends and even strangers to send encouragement and tips to reinforce accountability.
Implant Logic Into Your Routines
Do you remember you college logic class? Does modus ponens mean anything to you? It's the "if... then..." logic theorem. This age-old argument structure is now known to help hard-wire neural pathways and reinforce behaviors. For instance, creating a personal condition: "If I get a craving driving, then I will drink water," or "If I am tired at 2pm, then I will exercise for 15 minutes." According to one study, 91 percent of those who made a concrete commitment like this actually exercised, versus only 39 percent of non-planners. This is based on a behavioral system that includes: Cue, Action, Automate. Repeat. "When the programming starts to work subconsciously -- as it will, really -- your habit is born," says system enthusiasts.
Use An Instant Reward System
Studies have shown that individuals who reward themselves directly after the behavior they are trying to reinforce are more likely to stick with the behavior and directly correlate the reward with the behavior. There's a scientific reason for this-the biological chemical dopamine that makes people feel good increases more with a causal reward than one that is delayed. Try rewarding yourself by soliciting praise from social networks or just checking off your achievement to aid in self-satisfaction. It need not be a profound reward, just an instant one.
Don't Give Up
Habits have been known to form in 21 days, or more likely 66 days (9.5 weeks) based on a study led by Phillippa Lally, Ph.D., a psychologist at University College London. Some habits are much stickier like drinking a glass of water before lunch turned out to be an easier habit to develop than doing sit-ups every morning. Yet, developing new habits gets easier as you progress, beginning with easier ones and moving on to more difficult ones.
No Need To Be Perfect
If you make an exception here and there, sleep in one day, go meet an old friend another day, it's okay to break from your routine once in a while and not interfere with forming the habit-just be certain to return to your routine following the lapse. Simply pick up where you left off the day before, and you're back on track.