Today I want to talk about habits. There are the building blocks that essentially make up the foundation of what and who we are. The amount of exercise we do, what we eat, the way we think – these are all dependent on our habits. To optimise our health, we need to replace our negative habits with positive habits.

The stages of habits

There are 4 stages of habit according to the book Atomic Habits by James Clear:

Cue – this is the trigger that sparks the habit behaviour. It is a reminder (For example, the smell of pancakes).

Craving – this is the desire to change your internal state by seeking out a reward (we are having a bad day – we want the pleasure of eating a pancake).

Reponse – this is the act of carrying out the behaviour to satisfy the craving (eating a pancake)

Reward – this is the end goal of the habit. The cue is noticing that something will give us a reward, we crave the reward and we act in a way to get the reward (We have the reward of the taste of the pancake).

Creating and breaking habits

If we want to begin a positive habit, we need to ensure that all the stages are set up for us to succeed. For example, if we want to go to the gym early in the morning, we will be more successful if we place the cue to remind ourselves in our line of sight. This would mean packing our gym bag and leaving it by the door. Find an exercise routine that your enjoy in order to increase your craving or desire to do it and to ensure that you will respond to the desire. Lastly, plan to reward yourself after you complete the habit (maybe by having a warm bubble bath in the evening, or a nice cup of tea!).

On the flipside, if you want to break a bad habit, you need to make the stages of the habit more inaccessible. For example, if you want to stop eating chocolate, make sure that it is not in the house, or at least not in your line of vision. Work on making it undesirable – eat a fruit instead so that your craving for sweetness is diminished and so that you are fuller. Make it difficult to respond to the craving – put the chocolate in the fridge downstairs. Lastly, find ways to make the habit unsatisfying – remind yourself that when you eat the chocolate, you feel unwell and tired.

Be strong when it comes to habits

Creating and breaking habits is very hard. You are literally changing the patterns of the neurons in your brain when trying to recreate your habits. It is important to know that it is going to be hard – fight anyway. Get up and do what you don’t want to do in order to be the person that you know you can be. Then get up and do it again tomorrow.

The other important factor in breaking bad habits is to replace them with a reward that is just as satisfying as the habit. We will delve further into this topic next Tuesday!

Have a great day.

Lots of light and love xx

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