Forming a new habit is hard, but beneficial to your mental health.
Part of breaking bad habits is accepting that it’s time to change. Self reflection is about noticing the things we want to change about ourselves without being judgmental or harsh. Forming new healthy habits is beneficial to your mental health and well-being, which can help you to live a happier life! Change is hard and uncomfortable. We talked with our MyCocun family and outlined some of our favorite tips on how to conquer bad habits and form new ones.
Know Your Habits (Healthy and Unhealthy)
Begin to get familiar with your daily habits. Whether they’re good, bad or ugly, become aware of all habits. Once a habit is formed it becomes automatic which means it is harder to break. Look for patterns you want to change and, (without judgment!) start by identifying one thing to change and focus on that for a few weeks. At first it may seem overwhelming, so be kind to yourself and give yourself credit for wanting to take this step! You don’t have to change everything at the same time. Just focus on one thing you’d really like to improve upon.
Once you’re familiar with the habits you want to change (or start), take responsibility for them. This can be really uncomfortable! No one likes to admit the bad habits we have. Write them down in a planner, journal, or a post-it on your wall. Writing something down increases the likelihood that you will follow through with it. This will also serve as a point of reference and a way to make yourself accountable.
In the beginning this one is especially important. Set small goals, the smaller the better! For example, if you’d like to start exercising more, commit to moving or stretching for 5-10 minutes every other day. Rather than overwhelming yourself by trying to run a mile on your first day (no thank you). It’s so easy to get caught up in wanting to change that sometimes we bite off more than we can chew. It’s easier to gradually build on prior success to reach your ultimate goal. Remember the hardest part about forming a new habit is getting started!
Begin With the End in Mind
Visualize who you want to be and what you want your future to look like. Imagining the whole picture of what is to come can help you to start forming your plan and identify the steps you need to take to get there. If you’re a visual learner create a vision board if you are up for a simple and helpful craft. Being able to picture yourself accomplishing your new habit or goal will help you in succeeding. Telling yourself that you will accomplish your goal is just as important as visualizing it. Remember the little engine that could?
Generally when we want to accomplish things, we make a to-do list. But how often do we follow through with that to do list? Sometimes we even tend to add things to it we have already accomplished. Depression lowers our motivation and desire to accomplish even the easy things. So starting something new can be especially challenging or overwhelming. Break everything down by prioritizing what’s important and things that are urgent.
Here’s an example of how to prioritize a to-do list:
# 1 should be something you need or should do immediately
# 2 is something you should plan
# 3 is something you should delegate
# 4 is something you should eliminate. If something is important and urgent, that should be the first thing you should do.
Know the Benefits and The Pain
When you start something new, it is going to be hard at first but worth it in the end! Become familiar with the hardships you may encounter and try to have a plan on how to overcome them. Remind yourself the benefits of this new habit to help you through this time. Try your best to push past this and try again when you’re ready. You are capable of far more than you think.
Have a Buddy
Having someone with shared goals can help keep you accountable. Accountability gives you that extra push on days when you’re not motivated. A need for approval from someone you care about and sense of competition can also be a strong motivator to take action. Together you will be able to talk about how you are meeting your goal and what obstacles you have faced along the way.
Setting reminders can help you stay on track and will be a way for you to check your progress. You can do this by making a note on your calendar or on your phone. Check in every couple days at first to see how you are doing. This will allow you to track your progress and make changes to your approach if you’re not getting results.
View It As An Experiment
Everyone makes mistakes, it’s inevitable that you will slip up once or twice when starting something new. That’s okay! It’s completely normal. Making mistakes is part of the process, it’s how humans learn. If it’s a new way of thinking or a new habit you want to form, at some point you may fall off the rail. If you view something as a temporary experiment, it takes the pressure off because it allows you to make mistakes and learn.
Be Proud Of Yourself
Lastly, be proud of yourself for trying to better yourself! Celebrate your little victories. Our brains are more likely to form a new habit when there is some type of reward afterwards. Want to start working out in the morning? Make yourself a really good breakfast afterward that you can look forward to. Want to increase productivity? Take short breaks after you finish a task. Telling ourselves that we are proud of our accomplishments will build self confidence, which can help us learn to combat depressive and anxious thoughts.
Starting new habits is difficult and you should be proud of yourself for wanting to change (we certainly are!). Step one in starting something new is thinking about it. Most importantly, be honest with yourself and those around you about your journey. Family and friends are your support network and you don’t have to go through it alone. In the past you have overcome all of your worst and hardest days, which means this is something you can do too.