Building and changing habits
Lifestyle • November 17, 2021 • 8min read
What Are Habits And How Does Your Brain Build Them?
Habits are actions and behavior that you start following after a certain period of repeating them. As James Clear stated in his book Atomic Habits “the process of habit formation begins from trial and error”. Every time you encounter a problem on your way you have to decide on what actions to take. And every time making right or wrong decisions you build habits based on your experiences.
If you happen to fail and encounter the same problem later, your brain will try to find different ways of approaches and different solutions for the problem. And if you succeed by making the right decisions for that certain situation, when encountering similar situations your brain will try to remember what was that right decision you made to get the reward.
However, you can think that at some point there are steps you take unconsciously, driven by habits, you may think that your life turns into an unstoppable circle of past-experience-proven habits. And you may think that at some point your brain will stop producing new habits and follow the automated actions.
But habits do exactly the opposite. While they help you take control of your everyday life challenges, they free up space in your brain for filling them with more creativity and redirect your attention to new occasions. James Clear explains how you can be driven to build new habits and maintain them. The simplest engine that keeps you moving and motivated is the eagerness to see it by getting the “reward”.
You must have had the experience of planning a healthy lifestyle, not staying up late, not overthinking, and living in the moment. But you have probably felt disappointment after a failure. To build a habit you must set a time and place for bringing these habits to life. You must try to draw some clarity to your behavior and plans. This will help you say no to circumstances that can bewilder you on your way to success.
If you felt that, you may also know that healthy and orderly habits make you feel unstressed and content with yourself. Eventually, you may have no idea where to start and what habits can work well for you, and what habits can contribute to your well-being, healthy aging, and longevity. The fundamentals of these are prevention and a healthy lifestyle. This article is about building habits that can bring you to excellence in any of your endeavors.
How Do Your Cravings Result In Your Health?
Have you ever wondered how your teeth grow, how you breathe, how and when you feel hungry? You noticed that as soon as you get the first information from your body your brain reacts with solutions on an unconscious level.
Once you have your habits “set”, subconsciously you know the “list” of beneficial consequences, and your brain “pushes” you towards certain solutions. However, sometimes your life quality may be damaged because of these unconscious decisions you made.
For insurance, you may suddenly feel a craving for food. And your action in the second is grabbing something from the fridge. You may not even realize was that effective or ineffective habit or a reaction to your impulses.
Sometimes you may need to sit and contemplate your experience-proven or even immune habits. On specific occasions, you may experience some patterns of your old and new habits. How can you have your influence on this?
Building habits can be challenging and hard. But you may agree that changing or improving them can be even harder. You need to concentrate all your psychological and physiological attention on directing them for your benefit rather than letting your unconscious habits direct your life.
James Clear suggests an effective formula called ‘pointing-and-calling” that can assist to raise awareness of your habits. You may agree that most of the time you fail just because of being unaware or distracted from your reactions. Once you do or intend to act according to a certain habit pattern you can try to directly point to that action’s effectiveness.
The simplest way to bring this to life is by writing down a list of the habits you follow on daily basis and thinking about how effective they look in a long-term perspective, how they save you time and energy, and how they assist you in your well-being.
Try to look at yourself from another person’s perspective when you want to eat more than normal, you sit bending on your book, you move less, and put yourself under stressful situations.
When exercising these tips you can find yourself concentrating on the outcomes of your habitual actions. And you can choose between supporting and dismissing certain habits. Sometimes we may make choices driven not by our needs but because of the environment that suggests certain solutions.
You can choose to buy fruits every time your hand goes for chocolate and buy foods rich in NMN. The case, if you want to grab a coffee is not because you needed that now is just because there is a good coffee machine nearby. The good news is that you have the power to take control of your environment.
You can adjust it for your healthier choices and performance. Hence, James Clear was right when he said “If you want to make a habit a big part of your life make the cue a big part of your environment”.
Seems like it’s much easier to make the right decisions when the right cue is just in front of you. Self-awarely and health-oriented habits can boost your lifestyle and even slow down aging.
Further in this article are some habit examples that can improve your health, help you follow a better lifestyle, and expand your lifespan.
An Active Body Will Never Rust
Sporting is one of the most important habits for you to maintain your healthy lifespan and unlax the process of living. Training postpones aging, stabilizes your heart rate and health, and lowers the risk of getting age-related chronic diseases. Scientists put a huge meaning in training but they also suggest a balanced training program. You should know that everything is good in the proper amount.
However, the desire for every day and consistent training can be an achievable goal, it can induce redundant health problems. So, try to make it a habit to focus on rest days and train, not for excess muscle gain, but for keeping your body active and muscles used.
How Can Diet Increase Longevity?
Another major factor is the accurate and suitable diet. When many dietitians may suggest high caloric food restrictions or hundreds of diet types, the most effective way of cleaning your body and metabolic pathways remains fasting. This is not to talk about malnutrition which can lead to an imbalance between the cellular need for nutrients and the body’s intake of them. You just need to take the food your body needs in a reasonable amount considering mindful eating.
Human existence actively depends on food- the fuel for cells’ functioning. And if you are getting all the necessary micronutrients with a decent amount of food you will never need extreme diets for your cells’ energy production. But also, try not to overeat.
Once you try to be cautious about eating and turning it into a habit don’t forget about staying away from eating before sleep.
Building Sleeping Habits
Many people have problems with sleep. In most cases that can be related to stress, circadian rhythm, or eating before sleep. The latter can be explained that your brain just cannot be turned off when your guts work on digesting. Your sleep can also be affected by the disorder in circadian rhythm. This is your inner clock that reacts to the morning light and evening dark. It is now obvious that sleep deprivation can affect your life expectancy.
Studies held in Los Angles by UCLA researchers suggest that even one night of not sufficient sleep can activate certain pathways that accelerate the aging process. Not getting enough sleep increases gene expression which in its turn leads to quick senescence. Getting enough sleep can also be on your habit list.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests the sleeping hygiene you can set up consists of:
- Setting a specific time when you must go to sleep for getting 7–8 hours of sleep,
- get up at the same time every day without omitting weekends,
- let your eyes rest in the darkness and limit bright light exposure while sleeping,
- try to be active before bedtime, a small, not excess exercise before sleeping can positively affect your sleep,
- use your bedroom for sleeping only,
- do not use electronic devices before sleeping,
- do not eat a heavy meal before bedtime,
- avoid consuming caffeine, and alcohol and reduce fluid intake before sleeping.
You can try to put these tips on your healthful habits list. Try to fill in the checkboxes and follow the results. These tiny checkboxes may change your life for the better if you build a habit of not ignoring them day by day.
Eventually, a remedy for a longer and healthier life is improved and self-awarely designed habits!