Can you imagine a day where you don’t have to think about getting more exercise, eating healthier, taking time away from your phone, or being more mindful? The essence of a habit is that you do it without thinking. It’s no coincidence that many of the most successful people in the world have credited part of their success to specific routines built upon a careful foundation of habits. Whether you realize it or not, your daily behavior is composed of habits, including how you get ready in the morning, how you clean, how you shop, how you park, etc. Sometimes these routines seem inescapable, but they’re actually a lot easier to change than most people think. Click through to see simple things you can start doing right now to break and make a habit.
Many people have heard that it takes 60 days to break a habit, which can seem too daunting to attempt. But Susan Weinschenk Ph.D., who actually used to promote that theory, says that it can be much easier—as short as two weeks even.
Habits are meant to make us more efficient
Most of the time, habits are created unconsciously and carried out automatically. Our brains evolved this kind of autopilot so that we can focus on various other things.
But they can also trap you into inefficiency
Habits like scrolling on your phone, smoking, pressing the snooze button, etc. are often not the kinds that improve your health or success, but they feel the hardest to break.
The biggest reason resolutions aren’t met
We often think that wanting to do something and knowing why it's important is enough to actually do it regularly, but experts at MBG agree that conscious repetition is the only way to make a new behavior stick.
How habits work
According to Charles Duhigg, author of 'The Power of Habit,' routines are made up of a "habit loop" consisting of a cue, a behavior, and a reward. Understanding and interrupting that loop is how you make or break a habit.
The neuroscience of repetition
Clinical psychologist Nicole Lippman-Barile, Ph.D. told MBG that when you engage in a behavior, certain neurons start firing together, and "the more that they fire together, they wire together." Repetition builds and strengthens neural pathways, creating a mental shortcut.
Habits are relaxation for your mind
Habits greatly reduce decision-making fatigue and stress, and they relax your mental state as your mind passes through a familiar framework.
Habits can regulate your hormones
A 2019 study on adolescents found that consistent meal and bedtimes led to greater emotional self-regulation and lower levels of epinephrine, a fight-or-flight hormone released with stress.
A regular rhythm of life has endless benefits
Integrative neurologist Ilene Ruhoy, M.D., Ph.D. says habits are important because our brains are circadian organs that, with a consistent rhythm across sleep, meals, and exercise, show improved focus, cognition, and energy.