How To Create Healthy Habits

Posted by Marissa Fuqua, Contributing Writer, on Jan 04, 2024

How To Create Healthy Habits

Habits: we've all got them, and many of them, we may want to change. But how do we do that? What's it take to create new, healthy habits? Read on for some practical tips.

Understanding Habits

The first step to change is understanding the animal—habit—itself.  And a great way to understand the nature of habits is to do some research.

To better understand how to create healthy habits, I recommend reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. He discusses a system called “the loop,” which breaks habits into three actions: a cue, a routine, and a reward.  This is the process for creating new habits; to change old ones, he tweaks the process slightly. This book is a great resource that can help you create healthy habits.

A myth we must acknowledge is the length of time needed to create a solid habit.  Many have heard it takes just 21 days to form a new habit, but it just isn’t true. According to a groundbreaking-but-overlooked study at the University College London, you should give yourself at least 66 days to make a habit stick. In the study, participants reached the “automatic” point of completing an action without thinking, on average, at 66 days.

When you are trying to create healthy habits, don’t set yourself up for failure with unrealistic expectations, and don’t try to change your whole life in one swoop. Building or changing habits is tough because we crave instant gratification. We also tend to bite off more than we can chew, go too fast too soon, and get overwhelmed too quickly.

Creating Healthy Habits

Whatever old habits you are trying to break or new habits you are trying to create, here are some strategies that can help you on your journey.

Take it slow.

Oftentimes, habits are actions, but actions start in our mind. If you don’t feel ready for change, you won’t. Focusing on the cognitive aspect allows you to gather information, think about your options, and consider the benefits of new or different habits. You can map out how you might set yourself up for the greatest success.

Develop your why.

The "why I am doing this" will make creating or changing a habit stick when times get tough, willpower is low, or your schedule is cramped. For instance, if you want to read more, think deeper than "I want to read five books to improve my vocabulary." Think, and possibly write down, how improving your vocabulary improves your confidence in social situations, which can lead to meeting new friends. Or improving your vocabulary might mean you will be better at crosswords or a better communicator at your job.

Set SMART goals.

What goals might you achieve by forming new habits? Set up mini-victories and celebrate each one.

A great model for goals you’ve probably heard of is a SMART goal: Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Achievable, Relevant/Realistic, and Time-bound. Use this to develop exactly how you will attack establishing a new habit or changing an old one.

Check out this great resource on setting SMART goals to help you create healthy habits.

Write down your game plan and place it somewhere visible.

Write down your game plan for achieving your goals and creating healthy habits. This will help you stay focused and be held accountable. After writing your plan, place it on the refrigerator, in your car, or on the bathroom mirror so you can see your path to change.

Don’t quit.

If you miss a day or step of your game plan, it won’t affect the habit-formation process as long as you hop back on the train. We are not perfect, so don’t fret about occasional stumbles—your habit building can still proceed without a hitch.

Use technology that can help you.

Sticking with a habit for months on end is tough, but technology can lighten the load. Look for helpful apps that are designed to help with habits. Additional mindfulness apps allow you a moment of reflection and are great at reinforcing habits.

Set alarms on your phone/computer. Tell Siri, “Set a reminder at 4 PM to eat some nuts.” Use GPS to alert you the next time you pass a gym. There are so many ways technology can benefit us when forming new habits.

Don’t go it alone.

Cultivate discipline with accountability. Find a group of friends to support and join you in forming a new habit. Or create consequences for your own actions such as:

Every time I skip ______________ this month, I will pay $50 to my wife/husband/friend who will donate my money to a cause.

Every time I do ____________ when I shouldn’t, I will let my three-year old do my makeup before work.

Find the joy.

A new habit can’t be something you hate. If it is, then you probably won’t stick with it for long. Pick a habit that isn’t miserable and you’re more likely to follow through on it.

At the same time, there are lots of success stories of people who went from hating exercise to loving how it feels. This is where your why comes in. To motivate yourself, consider combining a habit you dislike with something you love. For example, if you are trying to form a new daily habit of cleaning your home, only allow yourself to listen to your favorite podcast while cleaning.

Start today!

You’ll need more brain power initially until your habits become your routine. With each passing day, you are successfully working towards creating healthy habits as you overcome any self-limiting beliefs and build momentum.

Interested in building your spiritual habits? Download our Chase Oaks App, a spiritual fitness tool to help you grow in faith, hope, and love.

Share This:

Recent Stories

Swipe to Discover more

3 Ways To Keep Learning About Black History

Feb 25, 2024

Black History Month celebrates the heritage and achievements of black Americans, past and present. But why and how can we keep learning, once February is over?

Remembering the Dream: Honoring MLK, Jr.

Feb 23, 2024

Several Chase Oakers share their reflections on the impact and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s iconic "I Have a Dream" speech.

Five Things You Can Do For Lent This Year

Feb 11, 2024

What's the history of Lent? How is it observed? It's not just a way to pass time before Easter. It's a great opportunity to take some steps toward personal transformation.

Creative Ways that Everyone Can Celebrate Love

Feb 09, 2024

Valentine’s Day: love it, hate it, skip it? Whatever your view, love is for everyone at any age or life stage. We’ve got some fresh ideas for how everyone can celebrate love this week and beyond.

Where To Celebrate Lunar New Year 2024 in DFW

Feb 05, 2024

Happy Lunar New Year 2024! We've listed just a few of the many places you can celebrate the Year of the Dragon in DFW.

Four Reasons Why We Should Celebrate Black History Month

Jan 30, 2024

Black History Month is a celebration of the lives and achievements of African Americans who have made a difference in our world.

The Local Good Pantry: Nourishing Communities, Creating Hope

Jan 26, 2024

The newly opened Local Good Pantry offers hope to the surrounding community by addressing hunger and food insecurity with dignity.

12 Bible Verses for When You're Feeling Anxious

Jan 21, 2024

Feeling anxious? You're not alone. Be encouraged by these 12 Bible verses and the reassuring perspective they provide.

Finding Freedom and Forgiveness After Abuse: Rowena's Story (Part 2)

Jan 11, 2024

In confronting the cycle of abuse in her life, one woman found hope, healing, and something else: the freeing power of forgiveness.

Finding Freedom and Forgiveness After Abuse: Rowena's Story (Part 1)

Jan 10, 2024

Seeking to end years of domestic abuse, one woman found healing from an unexpected source.