On Habits


Habits (good or bad) are important part of our everyday life. Habits are formed by our repeated action. “We do most of our routine activities out of habit. When you practice making healthy choices over and over, they become habits” writes Dr Amit Sood of Mayo Clinic.

If you want to make positive changes in your life, try building on a lesson many of us learned in 2020: Hold yourself accountable.

Tara Parker-Pope, The New York Times

The New York Times, Well Column founding editor Tara Parker-Pope writes in a recent column ‘how to create a healthy habit‘ and suggests “when we’re being watched (even by ourselves) by a person or an app that sends us reminders, we make better choices”. The following helpful accountability plan from Tara Parker-Pope:

  • Create accountability plan: With an accountability plan, one is more likely to succeed with some help.
  • Find accountability buddy: While the presence of an accountability buddy adds some gentle peer pressure, the key is to focus on the behavior, not success or failure. “An accountability partner is there to support you, to problem-solve and to celebrate even the small victories,” according to Dr. Tim Church, a well-known exercise and obesity expert and chief medical officer.
  • Use an app: An app is a great way to add accountability to your day. Meditation apps like Headspace and Calm will send daily reminders and track your progress. Apple iWatch activity App helps track how much you move, exercise, and stand from day to day.
  • Set reminders: Once a health goal is set, hold yourself accountable by creating calendar reminders to help you achieve it.
  • Declare it on social media: Telling your friends, or posting on social media (twitter, Facebook, Instagram) platforms is reportedly help find a like-minded friend who will want to join your journey and offer words of support.

“We do better when someone’s watching. Even when we’re the ones doing the watching!”

Gretchen Rubin, author of “Better Than Before”

Developing a desire good habit(s) or breaking detrimental habits(s) requires sustain efforts. The New York Times business writer Charles Duhigg writes in his bestseller The Power of Habit explains the science behind how habits are formed and how habits can be broken.

In the ScienceAlert, Signe Dean highlights some case examples and science behind How Long It Really Takes to Break a Habit.

Duration To Build a Habit

According to a 2009 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, habit building varies from person to person and may take up to two months. The Science Alert writes:

“Researchers from University College London examined the new habits of 96 people over the space of 12 weeks, and found that the average time it takes for a new habit to stick is actually 66 days; furthermore, individual times varied from 18 to a whopping 254 days.”

Similar to developing a habit, quitting a detrimental habit also takes similar time frame. ‘To successfully break a habit, you need to think of your strongest motivation, which will drive you along’ writes the ScienceAlert.

“Longtime habits are literally entrenched at the neural level, so they are powerful determinants of behavior. The good news is that people are nearly always capable of doing something else when they’re made aware of the habit and are sufficiently motivated to change.”

Elliot Berkma, neuroscientist (Source: ScienceAlert)
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