By Kathy Hunter - Prinicpal Educator at Hunter Study Solutions
on Sunday, 27 December 2015
  • Learning
  • Health

So 2016 is looming and you may be thinking about changes you want to make, whether it be to lose weight, exercise more or take up a new hobby. The list can be endless. BUT New Years resolutions are attempts to change habits.

So what are habits?

Habits involve an ordered sequence of actions or thoughts that are triggered by a particular cue, situation or event. They are learned over a period of time by being repeated over and over again. Habits are persistent, fixed and are performed almost automatically.

Why do we need habits?

Habits make us more efficient. They allow us to sail through our day on ‘autopilot’ so that we don’t have to think about every tiny action needed to get through the day. Imagine how overwhelmed your brain would be if you had to think about every single action you do each day.

To form a habit you need to

  1. Explore a new behaviour or thought
  2. Practise that new behaviour or thought
  3. Imprint it into your brain and monitor the results

Habits are stored as chunks of behaviours or brain activity. When you are forming a habit you repeat thoughts or perform actions over and over again until they cause the brain cells to fire together and then form wiring like a circuit which works automatically.

We know that old habits are not broken they are only masked by new behaviours or thoughts. To change an old habit takes persistence and motivation.

It is a myth that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. One study on habit formation found it takes 20-254 days (average 84 days) for a habit to become automatic.

So when thinking about your 2016 New Years Resolutions consider

How ready are you to change this habit?

  • Not ready- sounds good but I haven’t put any thought into why, what, how or when I am going to change my habit. 
  • Getting ready- I have thought about these questions but am not yet ready to commit to making change or need to find support to help me. 
  • Ready to start- I am clear in what I want to achieve and have “If/Then” strategies. E.g. If I get hungry while watching TV then I will eat a piece of fruit. I have organised my support network to help with motivation. 
  • Already changing- I have started to change my behaviour or thoughts but realise that I’ll easily fall back into old habits but I will calmly and mindfully pick up and start again with the new habit. Don’t forget to use your support network to help you stay focused. 
  • Maintaining your new habit- I know I have to keep trying until the new habit is automatic. I am able to maintain my habit with less support but I can support others on their journey.

 

Here’s to new healthy habits in 2016.

 

Kathy Hunter - Prinicpal Educator at Hunter Study Solutions