2020 was a tough year, due to the coronavirus and its impact on our day-to-day lives. As a result, many people are eager to make the most of 2021 and have a long list of new year’s resolutions they are eager to achieve.
In this post, our Fareham chiropractor shares a few tips for creating habits that will help you achieve your resolutions.
Why Habits Make Change Easy To Achieve
There is a simple physiological reason which explains why forming habits makes it easier to achieve change. Whenever you perform a behaviour repeatedly, the brain will form new neuronal connections to support that behaviour.
These connections are formed so the brain can perform repeated behaviours more easily and with less energy expenditure. The brain’s capacity to ‘reshape’ itself in this way is called neuroplasticity.
The more you repeat the behaviour, the stronger the connections associated with it become, eventually creating a strong habit. Once you have a habit in place, the associated action can be performed without a second thought.
It’s important to note that the brain doesn’t care if a habit is good, like exercising, or bad, like binging on chocolate biscuits every day after work. Fortunately, once you learn how habits are formed it’s fairly simple to trick the brain into creating good habits which help you achieve your New Year’s resolutions.
How To Create Habits For Your New Year’s Resolutions
Define clear goals which are achieved with specific behaviours
The Homewood Chiropractic Clinic blog has included several articles on the benefits of making SMART goals over the years. A SMART goal is a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (Read more about SMART goals).
Having these types of goals makes it easier to understand which behaviours you need to create to complete your resolution.
Let’s take the common New Year’s goal of “Getting fit”. The SMART version of this goal could be something like: “Become capable of riding my bike for 40 kilometres at moderate intensity by June. Reach this point by riding every morning, 5 times a week. Start with a 10 km daily ride and increasing my average weekly distance by at least 10% each week”.
When you have a SMART goal, you know exactly what needs to be done. You will need to ride your bike at least 10 km per day, 5 times a week (50 km total per week). The next week, you would need to ride at least 55 km in total and so on. Because you have a specific behaviour planned, it is easier to turn it into a habit.
If you need some help with goal setting, visit our Fareham chiropractor clinic. We’ll help you identify some goals which are appropriate for your current health and fitness levels.
Practice the behaviour for thirty days
Once you have a list of behaviours that need to become a part of your life, you can start turning them into habits. There is a simple rule you can follow when creating habits and that is: ‘To create a new habit, practice a behaviour for 30 days’.
This is usually enough time for your brain (and body) to get used to the behaviour and to expect it to occur regularly.
Take riding your bike as an example. If you get on the bike almost every day, your brain will improve neural pathways relating to balance, pedalling, and certain muscle groups. It will also get used to being outside more often and will come to enjoy the bursts of endorphins it receives during exercise.
Your body will also begin to improve and the performance of your lungs, legs, and joints will become enhanced. This will make it easier to continue the habit and can lead to psychological changes which make repeating the behaviour easier.
Habit stacking is a concept developed by author James Clear. Essentially, it means stacking a number of small habits together to form a daily routine. When stacked this way, the habits transform into a single action instead of a group of separate tasks.
Let’s say you have a new year’s resolution to go running in the local park more often. To use habit stacking, you would look for other small habits which support your running habit. That might include:
- Placing your running shoes in front of the front door
- Setting out your running gear next to your bed the night before
- Going to bed at a specific time using an alarm
- Jumping out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off
- Stretching as soon as you wake
- Drinking a glass of water then heading out the door
These small habits all combine to make running a natural part of your day that you no longer think about. As you perform one habit, it naturally leads into the next, removing any impediments or distractions.
Focus on consistency more than anything else
When you first start building a habit, it can be quite a shock to the system. If you are a couch potato, suddenly getting up at 6am for a run can be a shock to the system. This is why so many people struggle to maintain their new year’s resolutions more than a week or two.
The solution to this problem is to focus on consistency before anything else. If you are going to run at 6 am each day, make your primary goal getting up, putting your shoes on, and getting out the door. Don’t worry about achieving a personal best time, weighing yourself, or running long distances until running is a natural part of your day.
Once running is something that you do without a second though, start pushing yourself a little more every few days.
Get some social support
It is much easier to establish new habits if you have other people involved. They will help remember to perform the habit in the first place and add some accountability to the entire process.
Having social support can also make your journey more fun as you will have someone to laugh with, discuss problems with, and obtain encouragement from. Ask a friend or family member if they would be interested in working out with you, improving their diet or achieving whatever other new year’s resolution you have in mind.
How Visiting Our Fareham Chiropractic Clinic Can Help You
If you are looking to improve your health this coming year a visit to our chiropractic clinic may help you. Our chiropractors at Homewood Chiropractic are experienced in providing our patients with advice for improving their health and wellbeing.
Our team can provide chiropractic treatments which address back pain, limited mobility, muscle strains, and other medical conditions which may be interfering with your goals.
They can also help you develop a workout plan, diet plan, and other lifestyle changes that are appropriate and which will help you achieve your goals.
To learn more, give the Homewood Chiropractic Clinic a call 01329 280 283.