As we enter the second month of 2022, many of you may be starting to wane in your pursuit of creating good habits for the new year. Don't fret! Fleek Fit is here to help you out. Habits are connected to the brain's dopamine system. Dopamine is a chemical that, when released, makes us feel good. When we engage in an activity that releases dopamine, our brain remembers the transaction; what caused us to do the thing and how euphoric it felt to do it. When we feel stressed or anxious, our brains tell us to do the thing that releases the good chemicals. This is why habits become habits. However, it becomes up to us whether or not the habits are good or bad. Here are some ways to help turn those bad habits into good ones!
Know your triggers - Identifying the things that send the signals to your brain to engage in the bad habit is a good way to start changing it. For instance, if you're a smoker looking to quit, you may find that the sight of your ashtray makes you feel like stepping outside and taking a smoke break. By getting rid of the ashtray, you're reducing the likelihood that you'll remember to smoke. However, as with many habits, doing away with a visual reminder is just the tip of the iceberg.
Be intentional with your words and thoughts - When you're looking to break your bad habits, you may be inclined to say to yourself, "Okay, don't think about it, you don't want it." However, studies show that the more you think about what you're trying to avoid, the more you're drawn to it and the more likely you'll be to partake in it. Instead of saying what you don't want, start encouraging yourself to do the thing you do want. "Don't grab that cigarette" becomes "I'm going to chew gum instead."
Deal with the root of your stress - As mentioned earlier, stress is a major bad habit catalyst. Our brain's natural response to stress is to send signals to our bodies to do the things that release dopamine so we feel better. Figuring out what's causing the stress and then finding healthy ways to subvert it can help you get a handle on those bad habits. Meditation, writing, and taking naps throughout the day are great stress relievers.
4. Create a better reason for switching habits - The human brain is a powerful organ. It can be influenced, guided, re-trained over time, but it cannot be tricked. Your bad habit releases dopamine into your body, and your brain knows this. When you first attempt to switch to a good habit, your brain may not immediately take to it because it doesn't release as much dopamine at first as your bad one. This is why it's important to give yourself better incentive. Instead of saying, "I'm not going to do this because it's unhealthy," (you already know its unhealthy!) say, "I'm going to do this because it's healthier for my body and it'll make me feel better."
5. Get an accountability partner - Substituting bad habits for good ones can be a challenge in the beginning, and even throughout. Having a confidant that'll let you know when you're slipping into those habits again is a great way to stay on track. This can be a trusted family member, close friend, or better yet, a therapist who is equipped to give you the tools to keep you on track.
Good luck on breaking those bad habits!