In this era of “stay-at-home” and “shelter-in-place” recommendations to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), it can be very difficult to maintain the good habits established as part of our normal day-to-day routines. It can also be difficult to develop new good habits. Even worse, it can be easy to slip into activity patterns leading to bad habits!
While some bad habits, such as indulging in too much screen time or social media activity, lapses in personal hygiene/nutrition, or exchanging healthy activity for idleness and procrastination may be an inevitable side effect of our current situation, there are reasonable solutions available to help limit these maladaptive habits from taking over. Especially when it comes to our overall health and well-being, we have an opportunity before us to develop good routine – but it will take additional individual effort to be successful.
What are habits and how do they work?
Psychologists define a habit as “any regularly repeated behavior that requires little or no thought and is learned rather than innate.
A habit—which can be part of any activity, ranging from eating and sleeping to thinking and reacting.”1
These develop through a cycle of reinforcement and repetition. Reinforcement encourages the repetition of a behavior or response each time the stimulus that provoked the behavior recurs. The behavior becomes more automatic with each repetition.
Studies have also shown that, on average, consciously repeating specific behaviors take between 30 to 60 days before functional routines are formed.
The importance of good habits
- Almost half of the actions you perform each day are second nature.
- They are powerful because of neurological cravings.
- Habits works through the habit loop: 1: Cue, 2: Routine, 3: Reward.
- When a obsession emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making
- The automatization of your actions free up energy that can be used focus to other tasks.
- Take control over your routine: Your brain can’t tell the difference between bad and good habits.
Use the Golden Rule to produce the right changes: 1: Use the same cue 2: CHANGE THE ROUTINE! 3: Provide the same reward.