3 Simple Steps to Retrain our Habits for a Healthy Routine

Aug 27, 2021 | Uncategorized

Anyone would agree that establishing healthy and consistent routines can be a difficult task. Retraining our brain to embrace a new routine isn’t rocket science, but it does involve behavioral change. Many people become discouraged before the routine becomes habitual. A scientific study cited that it takes somewhere between 18 – 254 days for an effective behavioral change. The same study indicated the amount of time needed is dependent on the type of behavior modification being introduced. For example, brushing our teeth may be significantly easier to adopt than say performing 50 push-ups every morning.

 

The Science: The Brain is Highly Adaptive

 

The brain is a complex machine, involving intricate brain chemistry, and scientists say there is still much about the brain we don’t understand. What is known however is that the science of creating a habit is developed by repetition and is guided by a part of our brain called the basal ganglia. Experts refer to this process as “chunking”, whereby the brain becomes adaptive to routines and regularly performed sequences.  

One of the best examples of how quickly the brain can adapt to new routines is best seen during the pandemic. Many of us have retrained our brains to adjust to public masking protocols. You may have found yourself stuffing extra masks in your pockets or cars and washing hands more frequently than usual. If you find that this has come “routine” then this helps illustrate how the brain engages in behavior modification. 

What is happening is a that a specific neuronal pattern is activated and strengthens reactivity responses in the brain. In some cases, the reward or punishment involved plays a significant role in retraining the brain. The reason is that is releases a chemical called dopamine in the brain. There are other things that can nurture this reactivity in the brain to make us more successful in our attempts to build healthier routines and habits. 

3 Steps To Building Habits:

 

1.Find your WHY

It often starts out easy to begin a new habit with some level of excitement. However, sustaining that excitement becomes more difficult after it wears off. That’s why creating an emotional or energetic response surrounding the new habit can be so powerful.

2. Repetition

Building routines comes from establishing consistent, continuous behavioral patterns. Commit to a block of a time and find ways to break your action step down into many, smaller steps to make the vision clearer. 

3. Visualize 

Visualization is a powerful tool. This relates to not only visualising the activity, but also the end result. Some experts suggest that music is a powerful avenue to linking an activity with a chosen practice. For example, programming a morning song into your morning routine that gets you pumped up to get up and moving in the morning. 

Now more than ever, having a routine framework can be a powerful tool in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Remember to keep it simple, have a powerful WHY, and avoid keeping score. Just focus on the effort and being consistent. And celebrate all of the small steps of success along the way.

 

 

References: 

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brain-wise/201904/the-science-habits
  2. https://news.mit.edu/2018/distinctive-brain-pattern-helps-habits-form-0208
  3. https://www.usa.edu/blog/how-to-retrain-your-brain/

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