Creating Good Habits

Everyone has habits, and much of the time they are simple things that are benign. Perhaps you take the same route to work every day or always take the stairs instead of the elevator. For others it might be hitting snooze on their alarm three times each morning or stopping for fast food on the way home from work. Over time, as these habits affect your life in one way or another, they begin to fall into the categories of “good” or “bad” habits.

What is a habit?

Habits are the small decisions that you make and the small actions that you take that make up a surprisingly large amount of your day. Researchers have calculated that 40% of your day is made up of habitual behaviours. These actions are started by a trigger or cue, and if the outcome is positive then you are more likely to repeat the same action the next time. Once you do these actions enough times, your brain starts to hardwire itself to do things this way each time it encounters that trigger. These are your habits.

What causes bad habits?

Bad habits are usually caused by two things… stress and boredom. People often complain that they eat more when they are bored, or drink more when they are stressed. Science suggests that people are more likely to fall into bad habits when they are experiencing these negative emotions because our brains are looking for something to stimulate a positive feeling.

Being mindful of your habits

The first step to creating good habits is to be aware of the habits you already have. Take a moment to recognize the reasons why you are doing the things you do rather than just running on autopilot. Are you reaching for that cookie because you are hungry, or is it just because you always have a cookie when you come home? Once you begin to recognize your habitual cues, you can begin to rewire your responses by doing something different. So perhaps instead of reaching for the cookie jar when you get home, you instead take that time to write in a gratitude journal, or go for a run, or water your plants.

Do you have bad habits that you struggle with?

The Therapy Centre has skilled Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychotherapists who effectively treat a variety of issues including anxiety, stress, low mood/depression and fears.

At The Therapy Centre we offer Telehealth services including secure phone sessions and videoconferencing, as well as in-person sessions.

Our offices are located at 2525 Old Bronte Road in Oakville and 849 Upper Wentworth Street in Hamilton-just minutes from the QEW and easily accessible from Peel Region, Halton Region, Halton Hills, Stoney Creek and Niagara Region.