Building healthy habits can be a challenging process. We all have habits, and some of them are better for us than others. While there are many different recommendations out there on how many days it …
Building healthy habits can be a challenging process. We all have habits, and some of them are better for us than others. While there are many different recommendations out there on how many days it takes to form a habit, we can all agree that it takes a long time. We can speed up the process by not only taking action day after day, but by also cultivating awareness around what we think about the habit and how it makes us feel.
Let’s say your goal is to move your body and exercise more frequently. This is a very common situation many of us have been in, and you may even be feeling this desire right now. If you start prioritizing exercise every day, you’ll find that as each day passes that you stick to your goal, it gets easier and easier to get started.
This is a normal process, as the neural pathway for exercise is becoming stronger and stronger with each workout.
Even though the new neural pathway is getting stronger, it still takes a long time for our new habit to become our default over the original one, which in this case is not exercising.
We can speed up the development of our new habit by reinforcing the action through an awareness-cultivating exercise, such as journaling.
Journaling about and reflecting on how we feel before exercise, how we feel after, and the main differences we experience can help us recognize that building our new, healthy habit makes us feel really good. When we take a moment to slow down and truly think or write about our experience, it makes it more likely we will choose that experience again in the future.
One of the main reasons why I personally advise writing your reflections down is that you can go back and see how they have changed or stayed the same over time. This will help you recognize patterns in how you feel. Some common benefits of journaling include improved mental health, more confidence, and better chances of achieving your goals.
Having a record of your thoughts will make it even more likely to continue building your new habit.
Taking direct action toward our goals is very important. If your goal is to exercise more, you won’t be able to journal your way to achieving that goal without actually moving your body.
Supplementing that direct action with another action, such as journaling, can shorten the amount of time it takes to build the habit, and can make the experience much more enjoyable along the way.
If you’re looking to move more this time of year, I’m hosting a 4-week Move More Challenge beginning Monday, November 27th. Let’s end the year strong and move more together! The link to sign up will be in next week’s article.
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