Healthy Habits for a Happy Home
As my kids are getting older and I am able to pursue my dreams more and more, I am realizing how much my habits and routines are helping to keep me regulated and my home happy. That said, it’s not always easy to create new routines or habits. I totally acknowledge that. So, I decided to compile a list of strategies that have helped me to create the routines and habits that now provide me so much peace and comfort.
Habit stacking a technique in which you tack on the desired habit to a habit you already normally do. So for instance, if I want to start whitening my teeth again, I would stack that onto something I already do, like brushing my teeth. After a while I will become used to the routine that after I brush my teeth before bed, I whiten.
Don’t Break the Chain
This is a technique that Jerry Seinfeld has used for decades. Basically you post a calendar somewhere visible and every time you complete the desired behavior, you give yourself an X or a checkmark on that day. Once several marks start to add up, it becomes a visual cue and an incentive to keep going and to not “break the chain.”
Memories keep space. So for instance, if you always have your morning coffee in that cozy nook you created and in your cozy chair, that area becomes associated with morning coffee. The same can be true for creating a new habit. For instance, if you want to start doing yoga, leave your yoga mat, blocks, etc. in a specific space and only do yoga in that space. Eventually that space will become linked in your mind with that habit and whenever you enter that space, it will serve as a reminder.
Just like holding space, memories also hold time. If you eat at the same time every day, for example, your body becomes used to eating at that time and gives you hunger cues when it knows it’s time to eat. I used this principle in starting the habit I hated the most - cleaning the bathroom. I named Thursday "bathroom cleaning day" and every Thursday I forced myself to clean the bathroom, even if I dreaded it. Now when Thursday rolls around, I know it’s time to clean the bathroom - it’s not even up for discussion.
It’s very important to create little rewards for yourself as you create new habits. Your mind craves comfort and will always revert back to typical behavior whenever possible. Giving yourself an immediate reward during or after you complete the desired action signals your brain that this new habit is a good thing. You start to crave the reward and so the behavior becomes easier. Quick example - I let myself listen to my favorite podcast while I clean the bathroom. This, plus the fresh, twinkly crapper make me feel satisfied and lead me to continue the habit week after week.
Curate Your Environment
When creating new habits, you want to make them as easy and thoughtless as possible. Because if your brain has even a split second to think about it, it might convince you otherwise. So stack the odds in your favor and curate your environment. For example, if you want to stop snacking, don't keep snacks in the house. Or, if you do, keep only snacks you have to cook - like popcorn. This little deterrence might just be the resistance your brain needs to think twice before re-engaging the bad habits that have become automatic.
The 66 Day Rule
Perhaps you’ve heard it takes 14 days to create a habit, or maybe 21... or 30? Well, the truth is, it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to create a habit! That said, it takes about 66 days for that habit to become second nature. So when I am trying to create a new habit, like running, I do it consistently for 66 days. If I miss a day, the clock starts over. You’ll know it has become second nature when after a while you miss a day and you start to feel off or even tense. It is proof that people really can change!