Tips for changing habits

Updated: Oct 5, 2018

Creating new habits may be easier than trying to break an old habit. Substituting a new action in place of the habit you want to stop may help. Adding a new habit to a routine that you already do without thinking (a habit in other words) may also help you stick with it long enough for the new action to become part of your daily routine.


Habits are the daily routines that we don't even think about. It saves energy and stress for the brain to have routine patterns to our lives. The more decisions we have to make about little things or big things, the less energy we may have left to focus on work or for making important decisions.


Getting overly tired physically or mentally can slow down our reaction time for routine needs or emergencies. Taking a break for a walk or to stretch out can help recover our mental energy. Taking a 20 to 30 minute nap may also benefit mental energy. Longer naps can leave a person more groggy as a deeper sleep stage is reached. Planning ahead with a menu and daily schedule can help reduce the number of decisions that are needed.


Planning routine actions in advance can help by having already made the decisions about the actions before being in a rush to get to work or school on time. Having an outfit clean and ready the night before an early day; lunch ready to go in the refrigerator; and a quick morning routine for getting dressed, having breakfast, and getting out the door, can leave you relaxed and on time for the early appointment.


New habits can be easier to stick with when you add the new behavior to a current routine - need to take a medication or vitamin daily? Try leaving the bottle next to your toothbrush and always take it in the morning after brushing your teeth. Substituting a new action for a habit that you want to stop may make it easier to change the routine than focusing only on stopping an old habit - want to quit smoking? Substitute going for a very short walk instead.

  • More information about changing old habits or making new ones is available here: The 3 R's of Habit Change: How to Start New Habits that Really Stick, jamesclear.com.

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