Habits are repetitive actions we take, often without thinking about them. Driving to work every day on our usual route is a habit that serves us. But, some of our daily habits, such as sitting on the couch after dinner and watching TV, may need to be improved. Often our brain runs on autopilot, and we don’t stop to ask ourselves whether our habits are beneficial. This is especially true regarding our health. Is your usual meal of meat and potatoes good for your health, or should you try something healthier?

The first step is being mindful of how you are spending your day. Maybe you drive through Starbucks on the way to work for a latte, get fast food for lunch, and put in a frozen pizza for dinner to feed the family quickly after work. You’re tired after work, so you sit in the recliner after dinner to relax. You look at your phone while lying in bed, trying to get sleepy. All of these habits have consequences. You may not think of them as habits, but they are. They are things that you do without really thinking about them.

If you are trying to lose weight, get in better shape, or feel less stressed, it helps to look at how you spend your day. Make a list of everything you do for a week. Then, at the end of that week, look at your list with an objective eye. Where can you make some positive changes? If you’re always too tired to exercise after work, can you get up 30 minutes earlier in the morning to exercise? If you are eating unhealthy meals because you don’t have time to find a healthy recipe after work, can you meal prep on the weekends to make it easier to eat healthier during the week? Can you limit your TV and screen time to leave more time for self-care, such as meditating, taking a hot bath, or reading for pleasure? Can you turn off all screens an hour before bedtime to allow yourself to wind down?

Changing habits that aren’t serving you is the key to making positive changes in your life and health. The good news is that changing a bad habit to a good habit only takes 2-3 months on average. But changing habits can be difficult. Most people find it easier to start by changing one thing at a time. So pick something to improve on this month. Write your healthy goal in your journal and on your calendar so it stays top of mind. Don’t worry if you slip up; start over the next day. Slowly but surely, you will find that the new habit that seemed so difficult is now part of your daily routine.

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