Boulevard Events share their top tips for building healthy habits
I believe this is one of the most valuable pieces of advice I can give, particularly in the current climate. Invest your time into building healthy habits.
There are four stages to building a habit and most of us have plenty of experience in the first three. Stage one; unconscious non-compliance, we aren’t doing it and we don’t know we should be, also known as blissful ignorance. Stage two; conscious non-compliance, we aren’t doing it, but we know we should be. This is us every time we ever said to a work colleague “I really need to exercise more!” The third is conscious compliance, we are doing it, but we need to focus consciously on the behaviour. This is the stage where we have all failed without realising we were on the brink of success, also known as stage four. The fourth and final stage of habit forming is unconscious compliance, we are doing it and we don’t even have to try.
Many of us have reached stage four with habits like smoking, watching TV in bed or checking our phones 4,312 times a day, but we haven’t with drinking lemon water in the morning, or meditating or reading before bed. I’m not calling people out for their vices, we all have them, but if we had a better understanding of the process, we’d be way more successful in forming new health behaviours. There’s no agreed consensus on how long it takes to build a habit, studies have reported varied results, but basically it depends on the habit and it depends on the person. The thing to remember is, if we keep going it gets easier.
If there is one thing many of us have more of right now, it’s that precious commodity we always complain is missing, time. We have a real opportunity to use it to create healthy habits, that will not only give us purpose and help us find happiness during lockdown, but will carry over when things go back to normal. All we need to do is choose the behaviour and follow the process. Without realising it, we have all fallen at the final hurdle whilst building a healthy habit, on more than one occasion. This might be the time to make those positive changes.
The biggest tip I can give anyone when it comes to forming a new habit is to make it manageable. Sometimes we try to implement too many things at once and it can be overwhelming. We need to make it as easy as possible to maintain discipline. If the goal is to start eating more healthily, then the new habit isn’t to ‘eat more healthily,’ because this involves lots of behaviours, new shopping lists, new recipes and cooking techniques, research into healthy diets, even meal prep.
The goal of eating a healthier diet starts with one small change, a good place to start is to eat more colourful foods. This way all you need to remember is to pick up as many colours as possible from the vegetable isle and eat them before your next shop. Once that’s part of the routine you can move onto reducing refined sugar or alcohol intake or removing processed foods. If we try to do them all at the same time, we use more brainpower thinking about all the new habits, which makes it more difficult to be disciplined. If we take one step at a time and make each step manageable, over time we can make huge changes.