Unhealthy habits are repeated patterns of behavior, and over time become involuntary and unconscious. Because of this they are very difficult to overcome.
If some of your bad habits are preventing you from leading a healthy life, you may need to develop some strategies to make the needed changes.
Gayle Reichler in her book: Active Wellness speaks on the connection between your feelings, thoughts and behaviors in her anatomy of a habit:
A habit become the end result of a chain reaction. First you have an event in your life that produces emotions that you need to cope with. It does not have to be a bad event, it can be just about anything that triggers different emotions, feeling and behaviors. Examples:
Celebrating a special occasion
Just watching TV or on the web
Success at your job
Disagreement with the boss
Being late for an appointment
Arguing with your spouse
Just sitting in your mom’s kitchen
All of these events cause different thoughts, feelings and behaviors in everyone.
Some events cause good feelings, while others cause bad ones. What you have to figure out are the ones that make you behave badly! Such as eating too much because you are in your mom’s kitchen!
How do we begin to get rid of the bad and develop some good habits?
1. Self-Talk: This one is very important. You need to develop positive self-talk statements that say: “I know that I would love to have a piece of fresh pastry that my mom just baked, but I can resist it.” Positive Self talk in general can bring about not only a more positive you- but a more confident you. But you need to practice it- analyze your thoughts and change them to more positive ones.
2. Recognizing your feelings: Your feelings about your bad habits are important. What are you thinking about yourself? There are two types of feelings: Emotional feelings and Physical Feelings.
Here are a few examples of both:
capable confident excited
guilty weary depressed
Feelings in general have a lot of energy and make you do things you do not like to do- like eat too much! Getting in touch with your feelings and beginning a journal that includes both self-talk and your feelings when you are heading toward some bad behavior may help you to stop and think before you do!
Therefore, awareness is the first step toward developing new behaviors to replace the old ones. Keeping a habit journal can help with this. Tracking your bad habits and then replacing them with some good habits.
Here are a few of my good habits:
Exercising daily habit ( I cannot structure a good 3 of 4 day a week of exercise plan. I have found If I do not do it every day- it does not become a good habit)
Increasing my knowledge habit: This habit is what I am doing right now. It usually stops me from doing a lot of other things- that may be bad for my health! Like eating or watching too much TV. So find a good habit that you can do all the time.
Here are a few tips on how to change:
1. Motivate yourself: Use some self-talk techniques to keep you positive and focused on your goals.
2. Become aware of your bad habits by keeping a journal and writing some goals related to your renewed habits
3. Increase your knowledge on success stories related to how others have changed
4. Patience: Have patience with yourself. It took a long time to develop a bad habit, it will take just as long to develop a good one.
Here are some Active Wellness Affirmations by Gayle Reichler:
I am doing the best I can
I deserve time to focus on myself
I am smart
I am a good person who is positive and willing to make changes
Taken in part from: Reichler, G. ( 1998) Active Wellness. New York, NY. Time Life