I've been reading a lot on habits recently. I've never been one for routines and habits, rather going with the flow instead. I started reading into the subject to try and formulate ways for myself and others to get into good movement habits. A lot of pain and stiffness can be attributed to our daily habits and lack of certain habits. But now I'm sprouting habits for myself, left right and centre!
"If you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you'll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you're done."
Habits are really just shortcuts. They become things we do without having to think about it. When we get up, we brush our teeth. Now I know when I was a child I really didn't like doing this. So how did it become a habit?
To help form a habit it needs to be enjoyable. In the teeth brushing habit, the toothpaste tastes good. That flavour does absolutely nothing for your teeth, but it is to make the habit more pleasurable to help you do it over and over. Apply this to a movement habit and if you make it enjoyable you are more likely to repeat the pattern.
You also make it easy for yourself. So you know when you go to the bathroom that the toothbrush and toothpaste are going to be there. If it was harder for you, and say, you had to travel a mile to a special 'teeth brushing centre', you most likely wouldn't do it very often. The reward to effort ratio would be too low. So again, make movement habits easy. This could mean when you wake up, don't get out of bed to move, have a stretch and roll about in bed.
If you flip this and think about any bad habits, they are usually easy, and with immediate reward. So to break the habit we need to make it harder to do. Think about watching TV. It's so easy. Most people's living rooms are set up to be facing the TV. All you need to do is sit down and pick up the remote! You then get the instant gratification of relaxation and usually switching the mind off. Imagine if you had to get your TV out of a cupboard each time. You would more than likely think twice about watching it.
Most good habits usually have little immediate reward, but more long term gains, and most bad habits have high immediate reward, and more long term detriment. I know that piece of cake is and damn good immediate reward! If you think about exercise, the benefits are in the future. When we begin an exercise routine there it isn't usually high in gratification. So we need to find ways to reward ourselves immediately after. I know a lot of people, who on the way back from the gym stop off for some fast food. That's the brain trying to reward the good behaviour, but often with one of the bad habits with instant gratification.
There is so so more much to habits that I could go on for days, giving specific tips and lots of science, but that's for another time. In fact I am going to be developing a program to help people get into good movement habits, so this is just a few little thoughts for you.
Completely unrelated to movement habits though, I am going to share with you a way I'm going to break one of my bad habits. I will often be on the internet until midnight. It's too easy; just pick up my phone and voila, lots of dopamine released in my body from notifications and various other things. This is not a good habit for a peaceful sleep. So my solution is this little device below:
Plugging my router into this means I can set the times I have the internet on. I'm starting off small, so it's going off at 10pm, which is scary enough. But I know I won't go to the effort of unplugging the device and turning my router on, unless it's some emergency situation which I can't think of. Another benefit is I will receive 8 hours a day less of wi-fi signals. There is a lot of research coming out suggesting how bad these actually are for us, so whilst I sleep I'll no longer be subjected to these. Once that's all just part of my routine I'm sure I'll start feeling the benefits, which then means switching it off at 8pm will be less daunting.
Have a think about your habits, good and bad. If you would like any further details just get in contact.