5 Tips To Create Positive Habits That Stick
Our thoughts create momentum, so one thought leads to another and another...and another! Which is amazing when we are excited and inspired but not so great when we are feeling anxious, scared or depressed. This keeps us restrained in a negative thought space and is why some of us can feel so overpowered by our minds. When we are in this headspace it becomes incredibly difficult to maintain healthy habits that we know are good for our mind and body.
If our thoughts aren’t monitored and are left to run wild about all the things we have to worry about, negative self talk or even just mindless chatter, it takes away energy and space for good thoughts, productivity and positive emotions.
Take time to notice your thoughts, be nice to yourself and work towards retraining your brain! As hard as it might seem, it is actually possible to make changes to your mindset, changes that could help you feel more self confident, worry less and lift you out of a dark headspace. There’s always a place for medication, therapy, alternative therapies when it comes to mental health but never under estimate the power of your thoughts. The negative thoughts want you to underestimate your ability to control them, that way they win! We have control, even when it doesn’t feel like it - but it takes time, practice and a lot of inner work to get to that space. Please don’t give up!
Literally everything we do, think and feel starts in our brains. Our brains are still a mystery to scientists and most likely always will be, but we do know that they are made of neural pathways and structures that are changeable - a concept called neuroplasticity.
Our brains are always evolving by rewriting and rewiring, our thoughts and emotions play a huge part in this. If we repeat thoughts and behaviours frequently, strong connections are formed, known as a neural pathway. So each time we act, think or feel, the connection strengthens and our brain finds it easier to travel this pathway. This is how we create our habits (good and bad!) which eventually form our character and personality.
One of the reasons why so many of us struggle to change, form new habits or grow, is because all of our pathways were formed when we were younger and most of us don’t challenge them as we get older (that comfort zone is too, well… comfy!) This again is why resolutions almost always fail, or we struggle to achieve our goals - the majority of us don’t give our brains enough of a chance to really learn a neuropathway (i.e. a new habit / behaviour).
Here are a few tips to give your brain some love and help it to build positive neuropathways!
TAKE BABYSTEPS. Small daily practices WILL create change. You don’t have to go crazy and uphaul your whole routine, this will just overwhelm your mind and body which will then create more resistance to change! Start slow with a few habits you want to bring into your daily life and make an effort to do them consistently.
PLANT POSITIVE THOUGHTS IN YOUR MIND. This is probably the hardest behaviour to learn, but definitely the one which will make the most impact on your life. Become aware of your thoughts and try to shift the negative thoughts to positive ones. You won’t always manage it but even the process of questioning a thought you’d usually let stay in your mind helps. This is where affirmations come in - stick positive quotes, mantras, intentions and inspiration every where you can see them. This isn’t a fad, it actually works to shift your perspective!
DO THINGS THAT MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD. Even when you don’t FEEL like it! This is key! Don’t wait to feel in the mood to go on that walk and get fresh air, or to have a conversation with a good friend you’ve been ignoring due to lack of energy. Do the things that you know make you feel good to build momentum and good energy. Don’t wait for motivation - it’s fleeting.
USE A HABIT TRACKER. Tracking your progress helps you to monitor your journey, and habit trackers are great for this. They are the perfect tool to make ourselves aware of the things we do on a daily basis that we want to change, plus the things we don’t do on a daily basis that we want to start actioning! If you don’t have a habit tracker template, you can check out ours here or just draw something out in your journal - whatever works for you! Just make sure you’re honest when filling it out so you can get a realistic view of what’s going on and the changes you’re making.
REVIEW YOUR HABITS. Make a list of the top 10 things you do on a daily basis. This doesn't include actions like going to work or college, it’s the things you do in between and during your daily routine. For example, do you read every day? Watch TV? Pick your skin? Scroll on social media for an hour every day before you get out of bed (or IN bed?!). Then next to this list, mark out of 10 how much this habit is helping or hurting your mental, and physical wellness. 1 means it’s probably not that beneficial for you and 10 means it’s a good thing! At the end, add up your rating out of 100 and be honest with yourself about the habits that might not be so good for you, that you could replace with better ones. Don’t expect to be able to “delete” this habit or eliminate it straight away. This is where most of us go wrong, and get frustrated when we fail after a day or two. Remember it’s a super strong neural pathway in your brain! It will take some time to acknowledge the habit, understand why you do it and override it. Trust this process, try to replace the habit with something that is better for you for just a week and see how things change!
Nobody else can decide for you which habits to let go of, or which ones to make a regular part of your routine. That part is up to you! Just rememeber, if your thoughts and negative habits are left unmonitored, they can lead to anxiety, depression and general feelings of being stuck, unhappy and uninspired.
Remember that you are special, important and needed in this world - these three things alone are enough reason for you to put in the time to create positive change in YOUR world.