Healthy habits: How to get them

Published: 07/25/17

Healthy habits

What’s a habit? It’s just a behavior you do all the time on auto-pilot, on a regular schedule — every day, every week, etc.  Getting out of bed in the morning and going to bed at night are habits that everyone has! Other habits you might have are brushing your teeth, opening your mail, watching TV, or logging-in to Facebook.

You know that practicing healthy behaviors like eating well, exercising, managing stress, and keeping up with recommended health screenings can help you stay well.  Did you know that turning healthy behaviors into lifelong habits is a skill you can learn?

If you’d like to make some strong new healthy habits, following these steps can help you acquire the skill:

  • Take baby steps. Commit to doing something so tiny that it’s ridiculously easy to do. How tiny? One behavioral health researcher has suggested that, if you want to make a habit of flossing your teeth (for example), you start by flossing just one tooth – the rest will follow automatically if you do it every day! Or, if you want to increase the amount of exercise you do, make a tiny commitment like walking three minutes or doing one sit-up every day.
  • Habits need triggers so link your new behavior to something you already do all the time. For example, commit to taking a walk every day right after dinner, or buckling your seatbelt before you start the car, or making a grocery list before you go to the store and going to the produce section first, as soon as you get there.
  • Use technology. Phone apps (like this one!) and reminders, websites, and exercise trackers (like FitBit). The possibilities are almost endless.
  • Commit to doing your new behavior every time. It’s just easier that way. If your new behavior is truly tiny, it shouldn’t be too hard!
  • Know what motivates you: Do you want to increase the amount of exercise you do because it will make you stronger? Slimmer? Give you more energy? Help you take control of your health? Remember why you want to do your new habit when you’re tempted to skip it.
  • Find a habit-building buddy and encourage each other.

Making healthy habits is one of the best things you can do to take control of your life and health. Learn the skill and go for it!