It’s a new year, and you may not only be fed up with the pandemic but with the bad habits you picked up during the pandemic. You – ok, and me! – need new habits. While there a billion trillion guides on how to build healthy habits, here’s a nice article from the New York Times to help get you going: How to Build Healthy Habits.
In a nutshell:
- Start small and stack/tie your new habit
- Do it daily
- Make it easy
- Reward yourself
Stacking or tying your new habit involves tying your new habit to your daily habits and routines. For example, if you drink several cups of coffee each day and you want a habit of eating more fruits and vegetables, then have a piece of fruit every time you go have a coffee. To make it easy, put the bowl of fruit next to the coffee machine. To reward yourself, have a small — small, not big! — piece of chocolate after completing the new habit. To do it daily, tie it to a routine or current habit you do daily or more.
Remember it takes time to build a new habit. According to the article, building a new habit can take “from 18 to 254 days. The median time was 66 days”. So give yourself some time. And start small and pace yourself.
A few more thoughts:
- If it starts getting boring, challenge yourself. Or vary your habit.
- If it starts getting hard, cut back, perhaps to the minimum amount (but not zero).
- Get a coach or cheerleader, even if it your spouse, your best friend, or even your kids. (Kids love to cheerlead if they get to make noise. :))
- Track that new habit. I like the journal below. Other people like putting Xs through a calendar. Whatever makes you proud of your accomplishments.
- At first, focus on the fact you are started. Don’t think about how far you are going. Think about that you are going at all.