What Are Habits? And Aren’t they Bad?
Although some bad habits do exist (tobacco, drug use, gambling, etc.) not all habits are bad. In fact, according to a study by Debbie L Stoewen, titled Dimensions of Wellness:
Change Your Habits, Change Your Life, up to 40% of our daily routine is controlled by habitual behavior.
A habit is simply defined as a behavior that occurs frequently. They occur without much thought or awareness.
You walk through the door of your house after a day of work, take your jacket and shoes off and set them by the door. Your keys get placed on a hook above the table that you place your wallet. Without thought, these objects are placed in a spot where you can easily find them.
You wake up the next morning go to your table, grab your wallet and keys, put your shoes and jacket on, and walk out the door.
It’s all done without much thought, and if you think it's not really a habit, just think about what happens when everything is not in its place. Stress, Panic, Frustration. Not good if you are trying to control stress or panic.
Without positive habits, many of the tasks that we would do in a day, would take time out of an already hectic schedule. The more habitual and deliberate we become in our lives, the more we are able to be productive.
Wellness isn’t just about emotional stability or controlling stress. It’s an all-encompassing lifestyle.
If just one thing affects our normal routine, it throws everything out of balance for our personal wellness program. By not being able to find the keys in time, it causes us to be a little late to work. As such, this could affect our financial wellness.
If we have to spend an extra 15 minutes at work, then maybe we miss out on going to the Gym, or if we make it to the Gym, now there isn’t enough time to cook that more nutritious dinner…
You get the idea. Our habits define us and help us automate functions so that we can focus on other things to help us develop.
If I have bad habits can I get new better habits?
Yes. It takes work though. It’s easier to order in then it is to cook at home; However, the nutritional benefits of cooking at home are far better. To overcome the habit, you have to create a new one, and habits are formed by a process:
Perhaps you realize that if you could just leave 10 minutes earlier for work, you could get to work a little earlier and get your space set up, leaving you more focused and organized through the day.
In order to leave 10 minutes earlier you need to get up 15 minutes earlier than you normally would. So this either means you need to sleep less (not recommended) or go to sleep 30 minutes earlier. Why not 10 minutes?
Because it’s going to take time to create this new habit and you need to train yourself for this new behavior.
The added time allows your brain to adjust to this new bedtime and retrain itself that it is bedtime. You decide that Friday night is not the best night to implement your plan, so decide Sunday night is the time when you are going to take action…
Instead of going to bed at your typical 11PM tonight you decided to binge one less episode of 90 Day Fiancé. It’s 10:30 PM. Your Alarm typically set for 7:00 AM is now set for 6:45 AM.
You fall asleep and wake up at 7:00 AM. What happened? Nothing, your body is used to the 7:00 AM wake up. You just have to try again. Eventually, through repetition, your body will wake up at 6:45AM, and then all you have to do is maintain…
This is the difficult part. A habit created today is not as powerful as a habit created 20 years ago. That’s why it is so hard for people to quit smoking. You have to be diligent in this process and maintain that 6:45 wake up until your mind overwrites its own bad habits.
Good habits create a lifestyle change necessary to do the things that you want to do in this world. They allow us to automate certain functions of our day so that we have one less decision that we have to make.
You don’t have to create 1000 new habits today. Wellness isn’t about affecting dramatic lifestyle changes, it's about keeping what works, and getting rid of what doesn’t.