Establishing new habits can be a struggle if you have trouble sticking to them. It can also pose some hurdles if you are too focused on your current routine. But it’s not impossible to make even the most difficult changes; in fact, it’s a lot simpler than it seems. Take a look at some of these methods for integrating new habits into your daily life.
1. Leave Notes and Alarms for Yourself
A lot of the time, the hardest part of building new habits is remembering to do them. You probably already have a routine or schedule that you’ll want to subconsciously prioritize over anything else. Sticking to this schedule may indeed be more important — but that doesn’t mean that your healthy habit goals aren’t. A good way to integrate new habits is to set up phone reminders so you can focus elsewhere.
This is a perfect method for keeping on track with time-sensitive medications like birth control. You can also use alarms to remind yourself of important self-care tasks, doctor’s appointments, and exercise sessions. It’s important to prioritize these everyday health tasks, because they are just as important as appointments. If phone alarms don’t work, you can also take physical action by setting up a visible schedule or Post-It board.
2. Build Them Into Your Routine
Another way to start new habits is to fit them into your already established routine. For example, if you need to take more vitamins, put their bottles alongside your morning medications. Then it will require minimal effort on your part to take one of those as well. If you want more exercise, place a bicycle or running equipment by the front door so their usage becomes habitual. The goal here is to slip in anything new you want to do in a creatively convenient way.
Sometimes all it takes to habituate something is a daily encounter so you can remember and engage with it. A common method of this is to take a noticeable object and place it somewhere strange, in an odd position. Maybe you need to wear certain boots to work, so you place them upside-down in front of the door. When you leave, you’ll immediately notice their unusual placement and remember why you did it.
3. Listen to Your Body and Mind
Once these habits are built into your routine, you’re set to continue with them! But eventually, you might get bored or tired; it’s important to take note of this feeling. This is the point where, if you don’t, you can potentially burn yourself out with all you’re trying to do. Don’t be afraid to change things around. It’s better to do them differently than not at all.
This doesn’t mean forgetting about those habits, just implementing them in different ways. If perhaps you do find yourself ignoring alarms then using physical reminders can take the resulting stress away. The key to tackling these new habits is not by seeing them as enemies, but by treating them as friends. Listen to your mind — how do you feel you can most comfortably let them in?
4. Hold Yourself Accountable
Maybe, even with all of your efforts, you can’t seem to get anywhere by yourself. This is okay because self-discipline is difficult and just one of many involved principles of habit-building. A good way to develop discipline without putting undesirable pressure on yourself is by finding external methods of accountability practice. Options for doing so include getting an accountability partner or any kind of accountability application or program.
An accountability partner is somebody close to you whom you trust and respect. Together, you can create rules about the new habits you want to establish. Typically this involves them checking in with you each day to make sure you followed through with your responsibilities. The slight pressure of that person depending on you can do wonders for ensuring that you complete the task.
5. Start Small
Perhaps now you’re much more comfortable with the idea of new healthy habits and ready to jump in! But wait — if you try to make too many changes at once, the pressure can be overwhelming, even from yourself. The best way to introduce these things is by starting small and moving slowly. Just focus on one habit to add to your routine until it is fully integrated, and then tackle the next.
If even then you have trouble with doing this, consider breaking the new habit down further. Say you want to eat more vegetables but always gravitate towards chips for a quick midday snack. You can start by building a habit of buying more when you grocery shop (even if you don’t eat them!). Once you’re used to that, you can set aside a few minutes to prepare them in convenient portions for snacking.
These ideas and tips can apply to any habit (of almost any difficulty) that you want to build. Pile them up and your progress will grow quickly. Nobody wants to let their accountability partner down, even if only notifying them that you indeed bought more vegetables. In the end, these habits will become second nature, and building them will be much easier.