Habits for a Healthy Lifestyle
When medical professionals talk about treating the whole person, they’re looking at the physical, emotional, mental and behavioral aspects to their patients’ lives.
When making a significant change to your lifestyle you have to pay attention to your whole self. That’s because making a change is hard, especially when you’re trying to alter the daily habits that have been ingrained in your way of living for decades. 80% of your efforts to lose weight or maintain your weight loss will be focused on the mental, emotional, and behavioral aspects of change. To be successful you need to be READY TO CHANGE and WILLING to create new habits and behaviors.
How do we change habits?
First you need to understand that your brain doesn’t like to break a habit. Habits are formed through repetitive action that literally creates neural pathways in our brains. The more we repeat the action, the stronger those neural pathways become. Most habits develop in response to a trigger which results in an immediate award that we aren’t often aware of.
To change a habit, you have to consciously recognize that trigger and transform your habitual response to a new and healthier response. Let’s say you have a busy day at work only to be followed by a stressful evening at home. Your kids don’t want to do their homework, they don’t like what you’ve fixed for dinner, they don’t want to go to bed on time. That stress becomes your TRIGGER! When the house quiets down after everyone is in bed, you automatically reach for something to eat without thinking about it. You’re not hungry, but the taste distracts you and you wind up eating much more than you anticipated. After the distraction passes, you feel guilty, frustrated, and out of control!
Repetition Creates MASTERY
You can make a successful change by consciously recognizing these stress triggers, like realizing your desire to reach for that bag of potato chips. Change your response by turning away from the chips, take a deep breath or relax with a cup of tea. You’ll feel good about your choices and feeling good is a much better reward than feeling guilty.
The more you create those feelings of success, the more neural pathways you create for this new and healthier habit. The stronger these new habits become the more you’re paving the way for your new healthy lifestyle. Start today!
Fact: The psychologist Rick Hanson, in an interview with the Huffington Post on the principle, proposes attempting to appreciate, practice, and really embed happy experiences in the mind, so as to get the brain to wire for more emotionally positive reactions. This isn’t new age nonsense, either; numerous studies have shown that, likely for evolutionary reasons, the brain reacts far more strongly to negative experiences than to positive ones, and experience training may be a way of undoing this innate “negativity bias”.
Awareness Challenge this week: Be aware what triggers your patterns of unhealthy habits and start creating a new healthy action! Take a walk, deep breathing techniques, or making some hot tea. Your habits today will affect your future. Start by making a few simple changes to your daily habits.
Tune in next time; we will cover how to overcome challenging situations.
In the meantime, if you’d like to know more about changing your unhealthy behaviors, reach out to us for our professional guidance and support. Give us a call!
Create healthy habits, not restrictions.
Blog Photo Credit: https://communityofsolutions.org/2016/the-eight-dimensions-of-wellness/
Cover Photo Credit: http://wbab.suffolk.lib.ny.us/healthy-habits/