Author: Lucy New

(Jewish Boston Teens) We all aspire to develop certain habits: wake up at 7 a.m. every morning, drink one gallon of water a day, work out at the gym twice a week…the list goes on. Nevertheless, solidifying these habits is often an uphill battle. Why is that? Research proves that it could take between two months and nearly a year to develop a habit. It is no easy feat to develop the healthy habits we aim for, yet this difficulty is no reason not to try.

Having a better understanding of the psychological process of habit development will help you in your endeavors. Humans develop habits through the cue-routine-reward loop. This three-step process is initiated by the cue, which is the thing that triggers your behavior. These cues can be as simple as seeing a specific time on the clock or hearing a certain song on the radio. This cue will result in the second step of this process: the routine. This routine is the same thing as the habit itself. Finally, your routine will result in the final step of the trifecta: the reward. This reward reinforces the habit by creating a positive affinity with the behavior. One might be rewarded by feeling happy with themselves, feeling more energized, etc.

One way to establish healthy habits in our lives is to create cues. You can establish healthy routines to pair with these cues; the rewards will naturally come. If your end goal is to drink one gallon of water a day, try setting hourly reminders on your phone to drink a glass of water. Although this system might feel forced at first, you will begin to get in the habit of drinking a glass of water every hour. The time on the clock will become your cue, and the routine of drinking a glass of water will follow. You will be rewarded with all the benefits of drinking water: energy, body regulation, etc.

Developing healthy habits can improve our wellness. Since habits are frequent parts of our lives, maintaining habits that better our well-being will uplift the quality of our lives. For instance, instead of being in the habit of leaving your bed unmade in the morning, simply making your bed will have an abundance of benefits. You will feel good about doing something productive right as you wake up, keeping a tidy physical space is overall beneficial for your mental space and it statistically makes people feel happy if their bed is made.

Make a list of five habits that you want to incorporate in your daily, weekly, monthly or annual routine. Out of these five, pick one that you will start focusing on today. It does not need to be anything major. Pick something that will make you feel good and overall happy; set cues for yourself to trigger this habit. As I noted, the rewards will naturally transpire.

Good luck!

This article was originally posted on Jewish Boston Teens.

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