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[Wellness Wednesday] Creating New Habits to Improve Wellness

Welcome back to Wellness Wednesday! Can you believe we’ve been talking about Wellness for a year now? Where does the time go?

Over this past year, we’ve talked a lot about making small changes to improve our wellness. We’ve talked about how making one small change can benefit us, and at the beginning of the year we even talked about 20 small changes that could improve our wellness.

Today, I’d like to touch on creating (tiny) new habits to improve wellness.

When we first start thinking about improving our wellness, it can be overwhelming. We may feel we have too many things we want to change, or that we have too far to go. Our goals may seem too large and unattainable.

The key is to break those goals into smaller steps. Coming up with an action plan can help us focus on the process rather than the end result. This can remove some of the pressure and keep us from feeling overwhelmed.

Part of our action plan will most likely include forming new habits that help us incorporate behaviors that move us toward our wellness goals.

But how do we form those new habits? Creating new habits can be hard. Even more difficult is figuring out exactly how to develop the behaviors we desire into habits.

There are many opinions about how to form habits and how long it takes to establish them, and what works for one person might not work for another. Recently, though, I was introduced to a concept of habit formation that immediately made me think, “yes, this could definitely work!”

While working on one of my continuing education courses that I mentioned in my last post, I was introduced to B.J. Fogg, PhD. He is a psychiatrist at Stanford University, and he’s developed a program called Tiny Habits to help people change behaviors and form lasting habits.

In the past, the thought was that a great deal of motivation was required to form new habits. As we know, motivation can be unreliable. We can start out motivated, but motivation can wax and wane with the tides of life.

There’s good news though. Dr. Fogg says that we really only need motivation to do things that are hard to do. So what do we do? We make them simple.

I’ve talked before about how I’ve broken things down and focused on ‘one thing’ to do at a time, then doing several of  those ‘one things’ to complete my daily to-do list or achieve larger goals. Dr. Fogg takes it even further and shows us specifically what we need to do to develop those small behaviors into habits – those things we do that are so automatic we don’t have to think about them.

In a nutshell, if we can determine the specific small behaviors (or habits) that we want to develop, make it simple to do them, set up something that prompts us to do each behavior, and incorporate some sort of positive emotion around accomplishing them, we can be successful.

I can’t get into too much of the information about Tiny Habits without being guilty of copyright infringement, so I’d encourage you to get the information directly from the source.

As I said earlier, Dr. Fogg has designed an entire program aimed at changing habits and I’d encourage you to check out his website, www.tinyhabits.com. Here you can learn a little more about Tiny Habits, and you can even join a 5-day Tiny Habits session to learn more about how habits work.

The website says a new session starts each Monday, so if you’re interested, please check it out. I haven’t tried it out yet; as I said, I was introduced to him through one of my Continuing Ed classes. I just watched him in several videos, and he’s not only super-smart, he’s pretty entertaining.

Improving or maintaining our wellness often depends on our habits. Making it easier to create good ones can make all the difference.

Do you find it easy or hard to develop new habits? What have you found most helpful or most challenging with it? Please share!

Blessings,

~Terri

19 comments

  1. another great post Terri! I cannot believe it has been a year, I remember when you posted that you were going to start doing this………time sure does fly by!
    for me, i find it easy to start new habits but very difficult to follow through with………when i am having a bad day or week, i just do what i can to get through and habits are not even a concern. i have always wondered, what amazing things i could do if i were well!

    1. Thanks so much Wendi! I’ve been shocked how quickly this year has flown by…. I think your experience of being able to start new things but having a hard time following through is probably really common. As you said, when “life happens” all those new behaviors can go out the window quickly. I hope you’re doing well sweet friend. Hugs!

    1. Thanks for sharing Kathy! I’m going to head over to your blog today and see if I can find your posts. As I said, it was part of what was covered in my coaching course, and Dr. Fogg talked about his behavior change model and Tiny Habits program. I’m sure I’ll be using it!

  2. I’d heard about this but forgotten, thanks for the reminder. I’m not great at developing new habits, not for the long-term anyway which is really the point, or it’s not a habit – haha! I’m trying to get back in the writing habit so I’m doing Camp Nano again which has helped get into a daily writing habit in the past. Hopefully this time it will stick! Thanks again Terri! 💕

    1. Thanks for sharing Amanda! It can be hard to really make new behaviors into habits, can’t it? Dr. Foggs’s program seems to have “cracked the code” on how to make them permanent. I hope Camp Nano helps you get back into your daily writing habit. Have fun with it!

  3. Yes! It’s so much easier to break it down to little tasks. I’m learning my basic *musts* right now. No barefoot, no kneeling, stretch hourly (alert on phone)… I feel it when I don’t do these, so pretty easy to get into habit. Now I need to do the harder things that don’t get as much immediate results like dieting 😏 I did see his master class advertised on IG, & for free, sure! I also love apps, and if I’m not mistaken, there’s an app for this 😂

    1. Thanks for sharing Holly! I hope the habits you’re establishing now are going to help you feel better. Putting the stretching alert on your phone is a great idea! My Fitbit buzzes at 10 minutes before the hour if I haven’t gotten my hourly steps in during a particular hour, and it really does remind me to get up and move.😁 I checked the Google Play Store for the Tiny Habits app, and though there’s one called Tiny Habits, it doesn’t look like Dr. Fogg’s other Tiny Habits stuff. I did find several different habit trackers on there though. There’s an app for pretty much everything, isn’t there?😁 Hope you have a fabulous day!

  4. A wellness anniversary, that’s amazing! I can’t believe it’s been a year already though… where does the time go? I love reading your Wellness Wednesday posts, you always put in such thought & effort to make the content incredibly useful and thought-provoking.

    I’ll have to check out B.J.Fogg, I’m quite interested in checking out his Tiny Habits program. And with the session starting Monday that sounds like perfect timing, so thanks for the link! I do think there’s a lot of sense in breaking things down into small, manageable units, whether that’s tasks we need to do, or habits we want to break or construct. I think that positive emotion around accomplishing them part is really important, that helps with reinforcement and makes it feel more positive all around rather than negative, too challenging or off-putting to think about.

    I find some habits easier to start than others. I’m not great with change, but I do find developing new routines or habits is easier when other things in life are going in the right direction or when there are less other distractions. So, for instance, it can be more difficult to invest in a positive habit if you’re struggling with something particular stressful, have a lot of intensive work on or are otherwise dealing with a big life event. I know there are a few things I need to work on, so this is a timely reminder to set about making those changes happen.

    Fantastic post as always, Terri!
    Caz xx

    1. Thanks so much Caz! You bring up an outstanding point about it being difficult to invest in a positive habit when things are difficult or stressful. In fact, when someone is going through stressful times, most of the training I’ve received has said that it might not be the time to take on something new. When you’re already trying to juggle all these stressful situations, adding more to it might not be the answer.

      If you try the Tiny Habits session, I hope you’ll let me know what you think of it. I really enjoyed watching Dr. Fogg’s videos, and what he says just makes a lot of sense to me.

      I’m glad you enjoy the Wellness Wednesday posts. I really enjoy doing them; learning and sharing about different wellness topics is a lot of fun.😊

      Sending hugs your way!

  5. Fantastic post Terri and a great milestone! Isn’t it funny how starting out with a post or two on a topic soon grows beyond recognition! I find it very easy to form new habits…when it comes to chocolate!

    1. Thanks so much Marie! I can’t believe it’s been a year already…. Chocolate would be a pretty easy habit for me also.😂 Hope you’re doing well sweet friend! Sending hugs!

  6. Terri, in all honesty, your posts usually help me the most. I will check out the tiny habits of Fogg. I’m circling the drain right now. I need to take back some kind of control and maybe tiny habits are just what I need. Doing what I do, repeating, expecting a different outcome… isn’t that called crazy? That’d about sum up how I’m feeling! Ha! Remembering moving is stressful… we are in the thick of it, any normalcy is out the window! 🙄💜

    1. Oh Kim, I’m sorry you’re having a rough time right now. Moving is never easy, and I hope you’ll give yourself some grace as you work through this transition. I love the idea of the tiny habits, because with the limited energy and long to-do list that many of us have, learning to implement those tiny little changes might help us keep from feeling overwhelmed. Sending lots of love and hugs your way sweet friend!

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