Healthy habit formation requires practice and routine. After approximately 21 days, engaging in a new behavior begins to feel natural. This means you could form a healthy habit in just three weeks.
Habit replacement is the most effective method for making lifestyle changes. Instead of just stopping an unhealthy habit or simply starting a healthy one, find behavior that needs improvement and replace it with something related. For example, the habit of snacking while watching TV can be replaced with basic hand-weight exercises or walking on a treadmill while watching TV.
There are three primary categories of lifestyle changes. They are:
- Psychological changes: This includes changes to your attitude, your mood and the way you manage stress. To make healthy psychological changes, you may find it useful to join a support group or keep a journal.
- Behavioral changes: While all lifestyle changes are technically behavior, this category refers to things like your sleeping habits, activity level and planning efforts.
- Dietary changes: Making healthy changes to your diet can help you lose weight, balance hormone levels and manage pain. These changes will include controlling portion sizes, drinking more water and following a nutritious diet.
The most effective way to make lasting changes in your life is to start small. This includes approaching each habit you have and evaluating the way it is impacting your lifestyle. Then make simple, realistic changes as needed.
Changing just one behavior at a time can lead to lasting changes in your life, and is much less intimidating than attempting to completely overhaul your current lifestyle.