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Making your Habit a Habit

In our latest blog post, Paula shares some helpful thoughts on habits.

In my counselling work with young people a theme that often comes up is habits. This includes looking at what habits and routines a young person has that is maybe not so good for their wellbeing. Things such as spending too much time on social media, or not getting outdoors enough. In our sessions, we also reflect on what routines and habits the young person is doing that really helps their happiness and health.

Whenever you decide to start something new that you hope will help improve your wellbeing, such as trying to change your eating habits, reading more instead of looking at your phone, or doing more movement and exercise, how do you go about doing it?

Do you tend to dive right in and go all in, changing everything at once? For example, if you wanted to eat less sweet treats would you simply just stop eating them and hope for the best? If you wanted to move more would you tackle this by signing up for a marathon or booking yourself into exercises every day for the next month?

One of the first things to remember when you are trying to make changes for your wellbeing is that making new habits takes time and effort. However, the good news is that if you go about this in ways that are well-planned and that take into account the various obstacles you may come against then your new habit is much more likely to stick than if you do no planning at all.

Here are some helpful ways to make your changes into a habit…

  1. Keep in mind that a habit is something you do most of the time. If we are too rigid about it, we are more likely to give up the first time something happens to stop taking part in our new routine. For example, if you are trying to exercise more but you find yourself short of time on a day you have a workout scheduled, just try your best to attend your next workout.
  • Plan ahead! If you want to read more and look less at your phone, what do you need in place to do this? Do you need to set time limits on your apps? Do you need to go as far as removing certain apps from your phone? You know – those apps that are designed to hook us in during every waking hour!
  • Set achievable goals. If you want to eat healthier, take an honest look at how much you’re currently doing this and try to e.g. substitute chocolate for fruit three times a week. Then build it up from there. If you know you need to drink more water, work out roughly how much you currently drink and build it up in small amounts.

Hopefully these tips will help you to form some new habits to help you with your wellbeing. Once you establish a new way of being, a new routine, you’ll soon start to feel the benefits. If you feel a new routine is starting to fall by the wayside, take some time to work out why this is. Is life busier than usual? Have you lost some motivation?

Just remember though that you managed to make a change before and you can do so again with some thought and planning.