It’s that time of year again! The New Year has begun and most people have made (and already broken) their New Year’s resolutions. The truth is whether you want to lose weight, become more active, stop smoking, or stop leaving the toilet seat up you need to understand how to develop a habit and make it stick. This month we will be discussing the top New Year’s resolutions and how to make it work for you. First, we need to discuss habits and why they are so important.
Humans are creatures of habit. We love routines and repeating the same things every day. That is likely why you need a New Year’s resolution in the first place! You made a bad habit and stuck to it! Day after day like clockwork you stuck to your bad habit. Now it’s time to do a 180 degree turn and begin going in the right direction! According to experts, habits take around 21 days to stick, but this varies from person to person and some people take up to 66 days! Your willpower alone will not overcome years of accommodating this bad habit. You need to set yourself up for success! Follow the 3 R’s and make this year different:
Set up reminders to help you remember your new behavior. Make your reminders very visible so that it’s easy to remember. Use alarms on your phone, relate the new habit to something you are already doing (ex- put your floss next to your toothbrush), or leave yourself a note on your nightstand.
Choose something that is easy to start. If you have never exercised before, don’t plan on running a marathon in 3 months. Set a goal to exercise a few days a week, get used to the new routine, and build up to your ultimate goal.
Just like house training a puppy or potty training a toddler, developing a new habit needs to have a reward attached. We are hardwired to repeat things that feel good to us, so reward yourself when you reach major steps toward developing your new habit. Just remember-don’t reward yourself with a Big Mac if you are trying to lose weight! Make sure your reward is appropriate.
Changing your behavior is not an easy task. It may take a while to develop the perfect reminder, routine, and reward system that works for you and your resolution. Stick with it and set yourself up to succeed!
Your Family Pharmacist,
Samuel Warnell, Pharm. D.
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