March Challenge: Form a Healthy Habit
This time of year, a lot of people are taking stock of their health habits, as a way to get healthy after Mardi Gras, to observe lent, or to get ready for finals. It’s easy to make health goals that focus on eliminating bad habits, like giving up a certain food or vice. Cutting out bad habits is a great way to get healthier, but positive habits can be just as important.
This month, try adding in a small, healthy habit. This should be something you do repeatedly, but should also be a manageable goal. Here are a few
examples: get up 15 minutes earlier to avoid morning stress, bring a healthy lunch to work, or stretch during the commercial breaks while you watch TV.
Positive goals can be more motivating than negative goals, and it’s often easier to stick to goals that have an active component. However, if a major bad habit like smoking is getting in the way of your health goals, focus there first.
One study found that it takes about 9 weeks, on average, for a habit to become “automatic”. Good news- the article also found that small slip-ups didn’t set participants back in the long run. For example, if your goal is to bring healthy snacks with you to work, one day of forgetting doesn’t mean you’ve missed your goal.
Need more motivation? Try an app like Lift, which helps you define your goals and track your progress. Every time you practice your healthy habit, you check it off in the app. Then, the app shows your progress, and even shares it with your friends for extra accountability.
Lynnie Moore is a Master’s Candidate at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine who blogs about fitness, wellness, and events at Reily.