Anyone who's ever tried to quit smoking or to start eating more vegetables knows how hard making or breaking habits can be. Learning how to form new routines and healthy new behaviors can be difficult, but not impossible. You can use a few psychological tricks to make the process a little easier and help you start making healthy behaviors a part of your regular routine.
Create New Cues and Rewards
At the heart of every habit is a trigger that causes you to engage in the behavior followed by a reward. For example, you might become accustomed to having a sugary snack at 3 p.m. every day. Normally, your reward at this point would be a boost of energy from the sugar. But, you can create new cues and rewards to create the new habit. For example, when 3 p.m. rolls around, you can go for a walk instead of having your usual sugary snack, and over time, your reward will be the good feelings you get from the exercise.
Make Small Changes
If you have never exercised before, you can't expect to begin running everyday. Focus on small changes instead. At first, you may just start by walking around your block a couple times a week. Then, you may add to the distance or walk more days during the week. You create new habits by making incremental changes.
By tracking your progress, you can become accustomed to the behavior and even feel accountable for it. Use whatever method works best for you. Some track progress in a journal, while others use a visual reminder, such as a bracelet worn on the wrist.
Changing habits isn't easy. However, using these tricks that appeal to the psychology behind the behavior can help you find success.
Check out our resource guide for more tips on healthy living and making healthy habits.