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How to Change & Create Habits

The keys to making new habits are to keep it simple and stay consistent.
Happy Woman Holding a Balloon

Well… how are those new year’s resolutions going? 😳
Whether you are nailing it or have already forgotten what your resolutions were, you can benefit from the evidence-based, psychology-supported methods for changing habits that you don’t want and for creating new habits that you do. 

What is a Habit?

A regular task or practice can be called a “habit” when it requires little conscious thought to begin. Some tasks will require more conscious thought (e.g. meditation) than others (e.g. brushing your teeth), but what makes these “habits” is that you don’t have to actively remember or convince yourself to do them.
They just… happen, as if by magic. But habits are not magic. They are very-much rooted in what we know about neurology and psychology.

How Habits Form

The easiest way to understand how habits form is to remember that your brain is lazy.
At any given point, your brain will try to take a shortcut. It does this because mental processes use an incredible amount of energy. On average, your brain accounts for about 20% of your energy consumption while representing only ~2% of your total mass. And it could easily use more than that, if not for your brain consistently finding ways to reduce energy expenditure by creating shortcuts.
These shortcuts often come in the form of habits. Any existing habit you have came about because you did it enough times to create neural pathways that make it easier for your brain and body to carry out the task using as little energy expenditure as possible. 
And any habits you create in the future will come about in the same way. So, knowing this, we can “hack” the system by inputting cues that will give us the end result we want.

How to Easily Create Your New Habits

If you take nothing else away from this newsletter, I’d encourage you to remember that the keys to making new habits are to keep it simple and stay consistent.
Like training a puppy, your brain really wants to learn and create these new neural pathways and it will do so with simple repetition.
So, if you want a meditation practice, do whatever it takes to meditate every day for 30 days. If at all possible, do it immediately following something that you already do (e.g. meditate right after you brush your teeth). This will strengthen the “cue” that your brain is using to create the new neural pathways.

Is your habit doomed if you miss a day? Absolutely not. Will it become a habit faster if you prioritize it in the same way you prioritize brushing your teeth? It will!

Every time you meditate or perform your new task, you are giving your brain data input telling it to make it easier for you to do that thing again whenever it gets that cue. All you have to do is give it enough data points to solidify the new neural pathways.
Creating new habits falls into the category of being very simple, but not easy. So be kind to yourself and be patient with your brain; it’s doing it’s best.

Schedule a Free Consultation

Nervous system, hormonal and emotional imbalances can make it a lot harder to create healthy habits. Chinese medicine can be a very useful lens through which to see where you might be stuck and why.

Chris Goddin, owner and acupuncture of Balance Wellness

Why choose Balance?

I have made it my mission to be an advocate for you, my patients, and determine what steps you need to take to improve your health and get to the root of your health issues. My background in Integrative Medicine gives me the opportunity to understand the various mechanisms that are causing your health issues and the tools we can use to fix them.

I feel extremely fortunate to have found this medicine and I look forward to the opportunity to share it with you!

—Chris Goddin, L.Ac.


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