To introduce the concept of a habit to you, I ask you to locate your mobile phone. Where is it now? Are you using it to read this article? Is it by your side, or out in front of you?
It’s been estimated that those, like myself (born in the 90’s), check their phones 150 times a day. With the popularity of social media only expanding, it’s surprised this figure isn’t higher. Additionally, 87% of Americans say their phone never leaves their side, whilst 90% even sleep with their phones! So, rest assured, if you can’t stand to part from your phone even whilst unconscious, you aren’t alone.
It is this precise behaviour of reaching for our phones that becomes automatic, outside of our conscious awareness. If you’ve ever lost your phone for a day – you’ll understand how it can feel slightly unnerving. When these habitual behaviours become disrupted, we go from being unaware of them – to incredibly agitated. However, reaching for our phones is just one example, as up to half of our everyday actions are done unthinkingly.
Habits guide our decisions from the moment we wake up, to the moment our head hits the pillow. Whether it’s what we eat for breakfast in the morning, to how long we stare at our phones before we go to sleep. As human begins we simply are not aware of how routine, guided by the habits we ourselves once formed, can dictate our lives.
So, can the power and strength of our current habits be the reason they are so hard to break, and why healthy habits are so hard to form? Have you ever tried a new exercise regime or diet, become elated with the results, only to find you slip straight back into your old routine a couple of months later? Or a slightly cruder example, have you ever known a celebrity who’s lost a lot of weight, bought out a fitness DVD, but gained the weight back in the months following? Many may believe it was just a ploy to earn money, but the truth is, it happens to all of us.
For a healthy behaviour that doesn’t pose an immediate reward, such as exercise or dieting, it’s not surprising that our enthusiasm begins to wane. Research emphasises how quickly participants tend to lapse back into their habitual routine, once the incentive to carry out this healthy behaviour is gone.
However, as powerful as habits may be, it is possible to both disrupt unhealthy habits and create healthy new ones! Research into habit formation is constantly evolving: with a recent emphasis on not only changing your mindset, but how changing something in your environment may make breaking the habit 10x easier!
Stay tuned and subscribe for easy and innovative ways to transform the unhealthy habits you’ve unknowingly formed, into the healthy routine and mindset you’ve always wanted!