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Forming Helpful Habits

helpful habits

So you are looking to form a new habit? Aren’t we all? I think we all know that it’s easy to form a bad habit but really hard to form a good one. I know my bad habits are probably outweighing my good ones, so I’ve come up with a list of habits that might be good for us both to work on.

Some Good Habits to Form

  • Eating healthy - Eating healthy looks different for everyone. For me, when I’m trying to eat healthily, I usually try to cut out late-night snacking (which I love to do) and try to eat more balanced meals. I’m not a huge fan of trendy diets or calorie counting because it doesn’t seem very attainable or long-lasting to me. I find that when I listen to what my body needs, or doesn’t need, is when I feel the best and the most healthy. This habit will be easy to form if you do what makes you feel the best too!
  • Exercising - Exercising can be really fun, you just have to figure out what you like to do. If you hate running, as I do, don’t try and force yourself to run, because you are not going to be able to keep that habit. Try weight lifting at the gym or just taking a daily walk. Anything that gets your body moving is going to be better than not moving at all. Exercising doesn’t have to be such a chore.
  • Spending quality time with friends and family - This is a good and easy habit to form because it is usually fun to do! I listed this as a habit because I know I’ve fallen out of it before. When I start to get too busy I tend to shut people out and retreat into myself, and I’ve learned that this is very bad for me.
  • Staying up to date on the news - This is a habit that I have recently been trying to form because I feel like I am never up to date on what is going on in the world around me. I have always hated watching or reading the news, so this has been a really hard habit for me to form. I find that sometimes the news can be really depressing, but I think it's important to stay educated about what is going on around you. Try subscribing to a newsletter, listening to a daily podcast, or sitting down to watch the news every morning to form this habit.
  • Staying off of your phone - Staying off of my phone is another habit that is hard for me to form. I think most people nowadays have a little bit of trouble with being on their phone too much and I am definitely not excluded from that. I think this habit will be helpful to form because you can spend the time you would be on your phone forming a new, better habit for yourself!

How to Form those Good Habits

Now, I had to do a little research on this because I am definitely not an expert on habit-forming, but this is what I’ve come up with.

Start off small and simple. Be specific about what exactly you want to accomplish. For example, if you are wanting to start exercising—start by challenging yourself to do one exercise for one minute every day. Keeping the task simple is going to make it easier for you to adopt.

Devise a plan of action. Coming up with a plan for your habit is hopefully going to help give you the motivation to complete it. Something like tying your new habit to an already existing one might help you remember to do it every day. An example of this could be adding something beneficial to your morning routine like doing a short meditation while you sip on your morning coffee.

Reward yourself in the beginning. When you are first beginning to form your new habit, you should definitely reward yourself when you stick to it. This will build a positive base for the habit you are forming. Even if you are having trouble sticking to it every day, reward yourself on the days you do stick to it, so you are motivated to keep doing it.

How to Make that Habit Stick

The hardest part of habit-forming is making it stick, obviously. Here are some helpful tips to get you through the process.

  1. Stay consistent. Doing something every day is going to help your habit to stick in your mind. If you aren’t consistent then it will be easier for you to let yourself slack off on your new commitment. You can set a daily alarm or reminder on your phone to remind you.
  2. Have an accountability partner. Having a partner is going to help you stay motivated in your habit-forming. A little healthy competition is good for everyone during the habit-forming process. Motivating your partner is also going to help you stay motivated.
  3. Be positive. This is the most important tip in my opinion. If you do slip up at some point, you’re going to have to stay positive in order to get back on track. Don’t let yourself get discouraged if you make a mistake because that will make it much harder to get back into your new habit.

Habit-forming is difficult to start and maintain but if you are smart about it and motivated, it can be a really fun and rewarding task! Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from trying to form a new habit, and instead, reward yourself for the times you stick to it. Stay positive because you can do it!

Maggie is an editorial intern at Potential magazine and a senior English major at Birmingham Southern College. She enjoys reading and writing articles and blogs and is excited to share some of her college experiences with Potential readers.

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