Dr. Movsesyan Therapy Services: Creating and Keeping Good Habits
Habits are tendencies that occur regularly and are hard to break. These habits can either be good for you or can be ones you need to change to help make your life better. Thinking, feeling, and acting in certain ways throughout our lives help build some of these habits, which means: habits are not only a behavioral aspect but are linked to our memory system as well. Because of this, habits are definitely hard to change, but still possible. Creating and keeping good habits can be the start to breaking some of those bad habits.
A single individual can have many different habits and because of this, it can be hard to tell which habit is a good one and which is not. Some habits are not even recognizable to us because we are so accustomed to doing things in certain ways. For example, what is the first thing you do when you get home from work? Is there a specific place you drop off your keys? If so, this is something you do without necessarily thinking about it. It is part of your routine and has become a habit. Is this a good or bad habit? No. It's just a neutral habit and doesn't hold significance when it comes to your life. Now, before you get home every day, do you first stop by a fast food drive through? This too is a habit, but this habit is one that can negatively impact your life in regards to your physical well being and your overall health. Can this habit be broken? Of course.
Identifying the cause of the habit:
Before you can start to change something, you need to realize why it is happening in the first place. If you identify the cause of the habit, it can bring you a step closer to breaking it. By keeping yourself aware of the cause, you can work towards creating a better habit to replace it, which eventually, can break the bad habit. For example, do you go to the drive through every day after work because you are hungry and need a quick fix? This can be changed by the amount/type of lunch you have while you are at work. You can pack something that will keep you fuller longer. Are you going to the drive through because you have a long commute and you need to eat something? Grab some healthier snacks with you and either pack them into your lunch or keep them in your car so you can have the snacks instead and not be temped to stop by a drive through. Identify the cause and work towards breaking the habit.
Changing the small things first:
Sometimes changing small habits first can help you get ready to tackle bigger, more problematic habits that your therapist can also help you with. Breaking or replacing a bad habit with a good one can have a major impact in the way you feel about yourself. You can get a sense of accomplishment, or feel more productive, or just be in an overall better mood. When you feel these types of emotions, they can make you want to change other parts of your life as well. Maybe you are an avid smoker and want to break the habit of smoking. But, you've tried before and it is just too hard to do. You can start with other habits in your life that might need to be changed. Setting an example for yourself can help you out. Maybe you want to quit smoking and start exercising and being more active. Although these are great goals, sometimes putting too much on yourself can be stressful and the stress of it can make you drop both goals. Instead, start with the smaller option and work your way up. Maybe you've been trying to be more active by going to the gym after work. Maybe it hasn't been working out too well for you because by the time you get off work, you are stuck in rush hour traffic, and you just feel too tired or groggy to go and work out. You've skipped one day. The next day you leave work a little later and think you definitely don't have time for the gym. You've skipped two days in a row. This method does not work for you. Maybe you can try switching the time of your workout. Try going before work. Try going during your lunch break if you have a long enough break. If neither of these work, maybe you can exercise at home. If you are the type of person that can't exercise alone because you get side-tracked, then grab a friend, a family member, or a neighbor you might be close with and go running around the block. Think of different ways to help you achieve your goal. Break the bad habit of constantly skipping your gym session and start a new habit. You will find that you will feel much better about yourself after you've completed your work out. And, if this workout becomes a habit and is completed every day or every other day, then you will feel more accomplished. This sense of pride can help you want to do better. By wanting to do better, you can start to tackle your next bad habit, which might have been the smoking.
Use reminders and make things easier on yourself:
Let's stick to the workout example. Say you had found yourself skipping your workouts in the morning because you kept running late to work. Remind yourself the night before that you are going to work out in the morning and make things easier on yourself. Put an alarm on your phone to wake up earlier than you have been. Maybe you need to pack some things for your gym bag? Pack them the night before and put the gym bag next to the door so you can grab it and head out. Simple things like this can help you get closer to breaking a bad habit.
Not every bad habit can be broken easily. You need to remind yourself that you are human and as long as you are actually trying, then you should not be down on yourself. Let's go back to the drive through scenario. Say you had been packing your snacks to munch on them during your commute for a few weeks now, but forgot to pack them one night. You find yourself stopping at the drive through the next day to get some food. This is ok. As long as you pack your snacks the same night to avoid going to the drive through the following day too, then you will be fine. It's important to be harsh on yourself but it is also important to be forgiving and patient.
Say you had decided to start small and cut back on the amount of cigarettes you had per day. Maybe you used to smoke 6-7 times a day and you have recently been able to do 3-4 times a day for a week straight. That is something to be proud of. It is a big step towards breaking the habit of smoking. Reward yourself with something that will motivate you to try and cut down a little more by the next week.
If for some reason you can't break a habit yourself, there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking help. This form of help can be from a family member, from a friend, or for more severe cases, from a professional, like a therapist.
Dr. Movsesyan Therapy Services:
Dr. Movsesyan is a psychologist in Los Angeles who can help you break your habits, especially if they have a negative impact on your mood, your day, the way you function, or the way you live your life. Please feel free to contact Dr. Movsesyan if you have any questions about habits, how to break them, or how to create good ones. You can make an appointment with the doctor by clicking here.
Dr. Movsesyan Therapy Services
1201 S Victory Blvd #206
Burbank, CA 91502