Change Your Habits, Change Your Life
Checking emails late at night. Procrastinating on homework or house chores. Smoking. These are just a few of the bad habits many of us have. While the new year is often the most popular day to change bad habits, any time of the year can be the perfect time to better oneself thanks to positive psychology and behavioral changes.
According to Thomas Cothren of Fresh Start, many health experts believe that it takes about two to three months (roughly ten weeks) to break a habit; however, studies have found that using both psychological and behavioral changes can bring about life-changing results when it comes to altering bad habits.
How Psychological Changes and Behavioral Changes Coincide
When talking about human habits, psychological changes looks at the emotions and well-being of people. Having positive psychological changes means thinking about a person’s strengths and experiences but with rose-colored glasses.
Behavioral changes take a look at the way people interact with others and their surrounding environments. Behaviors are often ingrained in us and are the root of many bad habits. By choosing to reassess our behaviors, we can react better within own lives.
Ways to Change Habits Utilizing Psychological and Behavioral Changes
Ready to leave your bad habits behind? Below are some ways to use both psychology and behavior changes to reach a set of habit-changing goals.
One of the easiest ways to change a habit is to utilize a reward system. Researchers have found that dopamine, the “feel good” hormone is released throughout the body when someone is given some kind of incentive, reward or gift.
This might sound obvious but try to not choose a reward that can trigger the bad habit. For example, if someone’s vice is eating too many sweets and they want to break that habit, the reward shouldn’t be a sweet treat. Instead, use an incentive of a new article of clothing, or pamper oneself at a salon.
Consider Alternate Behaviors
Another way to break a bad habit is to try alternate behaviors. This way allows the brain to have some kind of satisfactory action without the downsides. This could be in the form of practicing a similar activity or doing something completely different.
People that smoke often reach for a cigarette when they’re stressed. An alternate behavior that is quite different might be going for a walk or run instead. Another example that has similar actions is when someone is craving candy but then they’ll tell themselves to eat a piece of fruit instead. The sweetness is still there but without the artificial sugar.
Stay Positive and Allow Slipups
The last way to change bad habits is to be kind to yourself and allow for mistakes to happen. Negative reinforcement such as criticizing yourself will only make the brain not want to change. Changing a habit is hard but slipups need to happen so people can learn and grow from their mistakes.
Changing to a good habit can take several weeks, if not months! Changing the psychology of a person or the way they think is something that takes time and shouldn’t be rushed.