Benefits of Healthy Habits and How to Build One | iAmEars: Safe place to speak your heart and get community support
In the last two weeks our therapists have answered 211 queries related to mental health.  
Blog Details

Debamita Banerjee

title

Benefits of Healthy Habits and How to Build One

We are made out of the actions we take every single day. Anything you practice repeatedly and consistently can turn into a habit, whether it's good or bad for you. A healthy habit causes a positive impact on your physical, mental, or psychological state of being. They're responsible for your overall well-being and often act as the primary determinant behind your achievements.    

Habits are predominantly formed through a 3-step procedure. Firstly, you might experience a trigger that puts your brain into an automatic mode to practice that activity. Next comes the routine, which is what we usually refer to when referring to the term habit. Lastly, there's the gratification you receive after completion. Hence, any task when implemented persistently can cause you to look forward to it.    

Benefits of Building a Habit  

Different habits come with their own upsides and downsides, but the hard work you put into building them can greatly impact your outlook on life and yourself.  

Here are some advantages you could enjoy by building healthy habits.    

Achieve Your Goals  

The things that you aspire for aren't accomplished in a day but cultivated over time. By working hard and building a habit of your choice, you get closer to achieving your goals. It helps you become the person you wish to be. When you put in regular effort into something, your chances of failure become very low. For example, if you've practiced a certain type of question every day before an important exam, you're much less likely to get it wrong. Hence, habits facilitate your success.    

Increases Efficiency  

When you get into the habit of doing something, you can execute the task without putting much thought into it. Muscle memory guides you through the process. This can help you save time and perform activities quickly. This way, even the most difficult jobs don't feel excessively challenging and your productivity becomes enhanced.    

Keeps You Motivated  

All of us have days where we feel low and do not have the determination to get through strenuous activities. It's why people often give up on things after the initial high fades out. But, once you go the extra mile and build a habit, tackling a particular hurdle can become second nature to you. Thus, it's easier to execute the required rather than scrounging for motivation from outside sources repeatedly.    

Builds Willpower  

When you conquer hardships to build healthy habits that serve long-term purposes, it helps you believe in yourself and your ability to overcome difficulties. It builds persistence and willpower that doesn't just help you perform important daily tasks without a fail but tackle life-changing issues. Showing the patience to build a habit leads to personality development and helps you build a stronger foundation.  

Boosts Your Energy  

More than 40% of the things you do in a day aren't active decisions, but simply habits. When you inculcate healthy habits such as a regular sleep schedule, mindful eating, exercising, etc, you naturally improve your energy levels and zeal for life. Also, making fundamental health choices a habit can help you save the time and energy you spend convincing yourself every day to follow a better routine.  

Ways to Build a Habit  

Whether it's a mundane chore or a life-changing alteration, building any kind of habit requires discipline and dedication. The best part though is that once assimilated, it's relatively much easier to maintain.    

Here are some strategies that you can use to pick up a habit of your choice quickly. People with different personalities find different approaches useful, so be open to trial and error to find something that matches your preferences.

Start Small  

Biting more than you can chew from the get-go can derail you from your journey. Start simple and small with whatever habit you choose to imbibe. Increase the intensity gradually so that your body and mind can take in the changes without breaking down.  

Set A Goal  

Set a specific goal such as performing a task or vocation daily for 2 weeks. Research suggests that setting specific goals increases your motivation and chances of success by a significant degree. This way you have a specific progress map drawn out for yourself to follow and stay accountable. Also, seeing yourself get closer to building a habit day by day pushes you to keep going.    

Stay Consistent  

In the beginning, the more consistent you are with your habit, the higher are its chances to actually stick on. Try to associate certain times of the day or places with the venture. For example, if you want to start journaling, then you could do it at 10 pm every day while you sit on your bed.  

By doing so, your body will form a ritual and automatically start leading you towards your task under these specific conditions.  

Create a Favourable Environment  

To achieve something, you need an environment that facilitates your success. Depending on the habit you decide to build, modify your lifestyle in a manner that supports your needs. In case you're trying to eat healthier, remove all unhealthy snacks from your pantry. This will help you battle your temptations as you won't have the ease to cheat on your current diet. A productive environment can go a long way while you try to adjust yourself to your new habit.  

Reward Yourself  

Research shows that rewarding yourself on reaching certain milestones while trying to build a habit acts as positive reinforcement for your brain. It encourages you to keep going as your mind Correlates better performance as a chance for gratification.  

Your rewards don't have to directly relate to the habit you've picked, they just need to make you happy. For example, if you've exercised 5 days a week, then take a warm relaxing bath on your rest day and light your favorite candle. The two activities are mutually exclusive but they have the desired effect on your psychology.  

Get a Partner  

It's much easier to accomplish something when you have a partner backing you up. Find a friend who wants to pick up the same habit as you and start your journey with them. You can check back regularly with each other and feel more driven. If it's an activity such as working out, then you can even do it together. They can also help you not slip off the tracks when the going gets tough. An added perk would be that doing something meaningful to both your lives will help you strengthen your bond.    

In case you can't find somebody in your life who wants to do this with you, there are plenty of online groups you can join.  

Increase Your Awareness  

Educate yourself about the pros and cons of the journey you've chosen. When you consume content that relates to the habit you want to build, it stays on your mind. You can track your progress more thoroughly and immerse yourself in the quest.  It also helps you tackle problems that you might face along the way.

It's Okay To Not Be Perfect  

You're going to have really tough days once in a while, that's how life gets. But, don't let it become a huge setback for you. Acknowledge that you cannot be perfect and focus on just trying your best. Don't lose hope if you can't work out for a complete hour someday or eat a brownie at a party, life would be too grey without some indulgence. Get back up the next day and follow your routine again. The idea behind building a habit is to produce meaningful results through repetitive efforts despite momentary lapses. 

Do It For Yourself  

Your motivation is going to run out soon if you're trying to build a habit to impress other people or replicate somebody else's endeavors. Do it only for your own good. Your habits should be best suited to your own needs and wants, instead of what's considered trendy in the media. Empty resolutions are no good when you're bringing about major lifestyle changes so keep your priorities clear from the start.

  

Overcoming your natural cues to build a habit can be stressful and alienating at times. Discussing your struggles and having people that cheer you on can go a long way while you try to become a better version of yourself. Visit iAmEars to find a community of supportive and empathetic individuals. You can vent out your feelings, thoughts, and problems on the forum while reading about the experiences of other individuals who've been through similar issues. You can learn from their stories and interact to support each other through tough times. The platform also provides you an opportunity to sign up for online counseling sessions with skilled psychiatrists and counselors to discuss any mental health concerns that you might have.    

Conclusion  

Building a habit might feel difficult in the initial phases but the temporary pain can lead to prolonged gratification. It's all about choosing between what you want now and what you want the most. The healthy habits you pick up will stay by you and enhance the quality of your life. Follow the 2-day rule, that is, do not go two days in a row without engaging in the habit of your choice. As time goes on it'll get easier and become a lifelong asset for you.  

Reference    

  1. The Effect of Goal Setting on Group Performance: A Meta-Analysis - https://tinyurl.com/2r88uy8e
  2. An exploratory study of the impact of perceived reward on habit formation: https://bmcpsychology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40359-018-0270-z