ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Creating good habits in the place of bad ones takes patience, time, and dedication. Previously, WTEN’s Christina Arangio talked with HPA Livewell Licensed Mastered Social Worker, Kate Wells about how to break bad behaviors or habits.
As with breaking bad habits, the best way to make good habits is to start with small changes. It’s also important to not lose sight of small wins made along the way to a larger goal, Wells said.
Envisioning changes, like losing weight can do a lot to keep people on track. Future selves are based on past images or pictures of life, unless they are replaced with different images, according to Psychologist Dr. Marcia Reynolds.
Picturing enjoyment as engaging in a new habit or behavior can also inspire people to keep reaching for their goals. “See the new shape of your body, your experience of good health, your enjoyment with people you choose to spend time with, or the peace of mind you experience watching the sunset on another good day,” Dr. Reynolds said in a Psychology Today article.
Coming up with a keyword associated with the future picture helps to recall it and also helps when people need to refocus. “If you only focus on the difficulties in re-creating yourself, your brain will support you by giving you more reasons to forget your visions and goals,” said Dr. Reynolds.
Setbacks are bound to happen. When this happens, it can be easy to fall back into bad habits. Wells said people need to practice forgiving themselves and not let mishaps boil over into the next day. Every day is a new day, she said.
Patience is also key. Changing behaviors doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time. It can take the brain 26 days to a month to create a new habit, said Wells.
Keeping a journal can provide the brain with the constant evidence it needs that goals are worth the effort and are paying off. Take five minutes to write down steps taken to reach goals and appreciate the ones that are repeated, said Dr. Reynolds.