Habits are our comfort blankets

Habits a things and actions we perform without the need of conscious thought. When under stress we often resort to habits to get through the stress. 

Good habits can be learnt. Soldiers for example are taught battle drills throughout their basic training. These are then rehearsed over and over on during training exercises with their unit. In the event of coming under contact for real (a very high stress situation), the soldier is able to drop into his battle drills without freezing on the battlefield.

2 Contrary to common belief, change is something humans are quite good at, take the way teenager adapt to high powered computers, compared to the lack of technology of previous ages. For successful change to occur it is important you take some ownership of what you are about to do. This is fundamentally why a diet plan will fail more often than not. While the content of the diet may perfectly meet your needs, you are in essence just blindly following the recommendations of someone else without input.

What we can be resistant to however is having that change thrust upon us.

How long does it take to form a habit?

1 A recent study has shown that it takes 66 days for a habit to become truly habitual. To create a habit you need to repeat the same behaviour in the same situation. Keeping something the same about the setting where you perform the behaviour in is important, so that it can cue the behaviour . With context cue, for example after lunch, it doesn’t seem to matter if you eat lunch at different times in the day.

While missing one opportunity may not significantly impact the habit formation, people who are very inconsistent in the behaviour do not tend to succeed in making the new habit.

Perseverance is important, as it can take much longer than many people think to form good habits. If you want to form a habit, you should be clear in what you will do and in what situation and try to do this consistently. Over time it will start to happen more easily with less effort.

Can we really break habits?

New habits do not stop the old habits from existing; so they need to become stronger influences on behaviour.

Breaking habits is very difficult. The easiest way is to control your environment so that you do not encounter the cue which triggers your habit. It is difficult to break any habit even when you are motivated to do so. If you are less committed to breaking it then you will be not likely to succeed.

What should I change first?

One of my favourite habits is winning. To create this habit choose a habit that you would struggle to fail at to start. You can then gradually take on harder tasks as you get into the winning habit.

TRY THIS AT HOME!

If you want to lose weight, time how fast you eat a normal meal, chances are less than 10 minutes.

So now just slow down:

  1. Cut food smaller
  2. Put your knife and fork down between bits
  3. Have a conversation during the meal
  4. Sip from a glass of water between forkfuls
  5. Turn the TV off and enjoy the flavours and textures of your food

Try to get a meal to last 20 minutes or more. you should feel fuller sooner, eat less and grave less.

References:

  1. http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0908/09080401 
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC61464/