If You Want to Create Healthier Habits, Do This.
Do you ever feel like life is testing your self-control?
If life has been extra stressful lately, maintaining self-control may be challenging.
In this post, I talked about habit discontinuity, which is the idea that when life gets disrupted, you’re actually presented with an opportunity to insert beneficial habits and behaviors. Life changes give YOU an opportunity to change.
But there’s a flip side.
Since autopilot mode is turned off during the disruption (e.g., moving into a new house, starting a new job, etc.), you have to use a lot more brain power and self-control to create new habits.
It can be challenging, but once you learn how to tune into your two minds (yes, I said two!), you’ll have a greater chance of making changes that result in long-term habits.
Start Making Healthy Choices
These healthy behaviors you’re trying to implement aren’t automatic yet, so they might require some extra self-control (for now).
If you transitioned to working from home during the pandemic, do you find that you want to snack more frequently now that your “office” is next to the pantry?
Or has it been too easy to shut your computer for the day and just stay on the couch rather than hitting the gym or grabbing resistance bands for a home workout?
The reason that happens is that, as humans, we have two “minds.”
The first one operates on some old hardware (think, caveman ancestors)—it prefers instant reward and makes impulsive decisions, such as closing your laptop and hanging out on the couch for the entire evening.
Your other mind is somewhat “newer” and houses our self-control and willpower—it cares a bit more about our long-term goals.
These two systems often compete with each other.
For example, snacking gives you instant gratification, so it can be difficult to stop because stopping (or not snacking at all) requires self-control.
Increase Awareness Around Your Habits
The first step to more self-control is to increase awareness of your current habits.
Bring awareness to when you give in to impulses.
Consider what thoughts, feelings, or situations trigger this impulse.
Do you get triggered by stress, anger, or when a particular colleague emails you? (Dang it, Karen!)
You don’t even have to actually work on really changing anything just yet. Simply practicing awareness and gathering data on your impulses and habitual behaviors is helpful (the goal is to keep trying to catch yourself in the act earlier and earlier).
The next step is to try to call up your 21st-century mind.
You can tap into this by considering your true hunger cues.
Do you really need that handful of cereal from the pantry? Or is it just filling a void made by some negative emotions via that Karen email?
Or maybe it really has been a while since your last meal, and you’re due for a snack (and that handful of cereal likely won’t do the trick).
The more you do this, the easier it will get.
You can literally train your brain to choose one mind over the other, and your neural “self-control” connections will grow stronger, with practice, over time.
Put an End to Self-Sabotage
You will most likely find this challenging at first, but eventually, it will become a habit.
And we’re all about creating healthy habits here at KJO Coaching!
If you want more support with increasing your self-control, developing healthy habits, and improving your mindset, our team of incredible coaches (all certified in health behavior change, specifically!) are here to help.
You can learn more about the KJO Coaching team here.
And you can get a head start on making positive changes with our FREE 5-day self-sabotage workshop!
This workshop will teach you the “why” behind your cravings, all-or-nothing thinking, and other psychological barriers that keep getting in the way of your health and fitness goals.
Click here for access!
Check out my original post here.
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