Press Play Button Below, Synchronize Reading & Listening "Habits Podcast" *An Audio Blog*
Routines or as we say habits ought to be a part of everyone’s lifestyle. They become such a part of your daily schedule that they become who you are. Habits allow you to build environments to do everything with high efficiency. They can be extremely useful and it is perhaps impossible to run our lives without them. It is so because they are to a large extent the basis of your success or even your downfall.
What is a habit? How is it formed?
A habit is something you do repeatedly without consciously thinking about it. It shapes your life far more than you realize. Our brains are a very powerful tool. It is constantly scanning for things and patterns in our lives which it can then turn into a habit. They are said to create neurological cravings where there is a release of “pleasure” chemicals in the brain as a form of reward for performing the behavior.
How do habits work?
A habit loop is formed as your brain crosses three stages. To understand how habits work through the loop is essential as it makes it easier to take control of them.
A cue or trigger can be a location, a time of day, certain people or even an emotional state. The pattern will unfold automatically every time the habit is activated by the trigger
The trigger is incorporated in your daily life. It could be a routine of watching television, smoking a cigarette, eating chocolate, biting your nails etc.
The pleasure chemicals are released in the brain because of the performance of the routine. There is a certain satisfaction that you feel and because of these rewards, the habit loop is reinforced.
Understanding the need for habits
Habits play a role of paramount importance in simplifying our lives. We as humans make a lot of small to big decisions in our daily life and all our choices and decisions require some amount of mental energy. We get susceptible to fatigue since this energy is finite during the day. That is where habits come in and play an important role because you do not have to choose or train your mind all over again to perform actions— you just do it.
Habits are encoded in the structures of our brain that helps us save us a lot of effort because we do not have to relearn everything we do. This automation of your actions leaves ample more energy at your disposal that can be used to focus on other tasks. They reduce the amount of sensory stimuli we need to process. They help to create routine, order and efficiency.
Are habits productive or harmful?
Unfortunately, our subconscious mind does not distinguish between good and bad habits. It simply plays by a rule where anything that is repeated over time has the potential to become a habit.
Our actions determine our outcomes. We tend to associate habits with bad doings such as consuming alcohol or drugs, smoking, eating unhealthy food etc. However, people also form good habits such as exercising, talking politely, being selfless and kind etc. Healthy habits may be hard to develop as compared to bad habits for the only reason that the resistance power required is more. But if you are keen to make sacrifices to better your health, the effect can be far-reaching, irrespective of your age, sex, or physical ability.
Bad habits have the opposite effect and can lock us into rigid or negative patterns of behavior. They can be damaging to our health and overall wellbeing.
It is up to you to decide what actions or routines you would like to have and how you want to use the habit loop to your advantage. The key to creating a positive change in yourself is to turn your desired actions into habits.
Quick tips on building habits
- Be intentional
If your aim is to change yourself for a better life, be intentional in building your habits. Force some routines in your life, like waking up early, consciously avoiding junk food etc. and within no time your body will automatically give up the craving for it.
- Build just a few patterns at once
A usual reason for failure in habit building is attempting to build too many habits at once. Remember, start with one goal at a time. Your brain needs time to process and regularize a routine and the resistance power works better if your focus is on one thing.
- Celebrate victories
The brain forms patterns and forces you to repeat for its ultimate rewards. So when you inculcate a habit and manage to accomplish it, celebrate your victory. For many, deciding the reward much in advance pushes them to work hard towards their goal, for example, treating yourself to some delicacies, or an international trip etc.
Habits tend to grow stronger and stronger over a period of time and become more automatic. Hence, we as human beings need to take control of this subconscious process of forming a habit and consciously choose which actions, thoughts and behaviors will become habits.
Another way to get rid of negative habits and moving towards a healthier, happier life is by seeing a therapist or a psychologist. A medical professional can help you treat your problems and boost happiness by understanding the root cause of the pattern and then modifying dysfunctional emotions, thoughts and behaviors.
Living in Wellbeing is one such platform where you can seek cognitive behavioral therapy that will help change the way you think, act and live your life. Their team of health therapists help with rewiring your brain to change unhelpful habits into effective ones. They focus on a private and goal-oriented communication style which they call motivational interviewing to help their patients commit to making life-saving behavioral changes. Get in touch with them today over a call or email and let them help you live a life in a healthy and happy way!