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The 3-Step Guide to Mental Well-being by Shattering Old Habits

Do you find yourself stuck in old habits that no longer serve your mental health? It's a common struggle, but the good news is that change is within your grasp.

Imagine Norman, a fictional client of mine, a resilient individual determined to enhance his mental well-being. Norman, like many, faced the challenge of procrastinating physical activity, a habit that often left him feeling lethargic and unmotivated. In our sessions, Norman and I explored a three-step process that focuses on making new habits easy, showing up consistently, and rewarding positive behaviour. Through dedication and a commitment to change, Norman implemented these strategies into his daily life, breaking the chains of procrastination and improving his mental well-being.

Step 1: Make the New Habit Easy - Start Small and Optimize Your Space

Start Small

The first key to successful habit change is identifying the habit you want to change. Be specific about the behaviour you want to alter. Once you've pinpointed what habit you want to break, start small with the new habit. Begin with manageable changes that you can easily incorporate into your routine. Success with small steps not only builds confidence but also creates a positive momentum that propels you forward.

See also my other blog post on the two=minute rule.

Transform your space

Changing your environment is another crucial aspect of making new habits stick. Modify your surroundings to eliminate cues associated with the old habit and make it easier to perform the new one.

Practical Example: Breaking the Snacking Habit

Imagine you've identified the habit of mindless snacking as a roadblock to your mental well-being. Your usual routine involves sitting on the couch, watching TV, and reaching for a bag of chips. Now, it's time to change your environment. Start by relocating those tempting snacks to an inconvenient spot, perhaps the back of a high shelf or even in a different room. Simultaneously, create a designated snacking area with healthier alternatives, like a bowl of fresh fruit or a selection of nuts, making it easier to opt for nutritious choices.

Step 2: Show Up Consistently – The "Never Miss Twice" Strategy

Don’t miss Twice

In the pursuit of transforming habits, consistency is key. A valuable strategy to ensure you stay on track is the "Never Miss Twice" approach. This method places emphasis on the crucial rule of never skipping a habit two times in a row. Even on those days when you might not feel up to the task or circumstances prevent you from engaging in your usual habit, the solution is simple: adapt. Opt for a simplified version or a shorter duration of the habit. By consistently showing up, even in a modified way, you not only maintain the habit but also safeguard it from breaking down.

Practical Example: Daily Exercise Routine

Consider a scenario where your goal is to incorporate a daily exercise routine into your life. There may be days when time is tight or your energy levels are low, making your usual workout seem daunting. Instead of letting those days derail your progress, apply the "Never Miss Twice" strategy. On a busy day, opt for a condensed workout or focus on a specific set of exercises. By doing so, you're not only keeping the momentum alive but also reinforcing the commitment to your exercise habit. It's a powerful method to adapt to the ebb and flow of life while maintaining the consistency necessary for lasting habit change.

Step 3: Reward Yourself for Positive Behaviour

Rewards play a significant role in habit formation. Whenever you successfully avoid the old habit or consistently perform the new one, treat yourself. Rewards reinforce positive behaviour and create a positive association with the habit. Whether it's a small treat, a moment of relaxation, or a favorite activity, make sure the reward is meaningful to you.

Practical Example: Overcoming Procrastination

Let's say you've identified procrastination as a habit hindering your productivity and mental well-being. Breaking this habit requires consistent effort and positive reinforcement. Create a reward system that aligns with your goals. For instance, if you manage to complete a task without procrastinating it, treat yourself to a short break to do something you enjoy, like reading a few pages of your favorite book, watching a short video on YouTube or taking a brief walk outside. The key is to make the reward immediate and satisfying, reinforcing the connection between positive behaviour and a pleasurable outcome. The new pleasurable outcome should be in line with the person that you would like to be. So if you are trying to improve your snacking habits do not chose as a rewarding strategy snacking.

Remember, your journey towards positive habit change is unique to you. These strategies serve as a foundation, but don't hesitate to tailor them to your specific circumstances. Embracing change is a powerful step towards unlocking your best self and nurturing your mental well-being. Start small, stay consistent, and celebrate the victories along the way. Your path to a healthier mindset begins with the decision to take that first step.

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