The Good, The Bad, The Ugly …

Gower Acupuncture with Tim Wright

healthy vs unhealthy concept

…habits. Habits are a funny thing. They’re just actions repeated over time. Do them enough and they become

automatic. Some are good, some are bad, some are plain ugly. Generally, a great time to change habits is when some-thing in your environment changes. That’s why New Year always seems like such a good time to commit to better life choices. Equally though any change can help initiate a new habit – a holiday, change in job, change in season.
If you want to make changes, the techniques you employ to get there will differ depending on whether you want to make positives changes or quit negative behaviours.

The Good Habits

Whenever you want to make a change for the better it can feel overwhelming. How on earth are you going to get fitter. How are you going to master a new language, how are you going to meet more new friends? The key here is to break the bigger picture down into tiny first steps and make them the goal. As the cliché goes the journey of 1000 miles starts with one step.
Want to get fit? Just promise yourself that you’ll drive to the gym every day. Nothing more. You don’t need to enter the gym or do a workout – just drive there. If you feel like working out then you can work out, other-wise just drive home. If you do this enough, you’ll more than likely start to work out just because you’re there. Want to walk more? Just set yourself the task of putting on your walking shoes and stepping out the door. Nothing more. If you want to step straight back in that’s fine. But over time you’ll probably think “well I may as well go for a walk”. The point of setting these tiny first steps is to break the inertia of apathy and the feeling of overwhelm.

The Bad Habits
I’m defining “bad” as habits that have a negative impact on you but aren’t physically addictive, such as  nicotine, opioids etc. Want to eat less or drink less?  Telling yourself you’re not going to eat chocolate anymore or drink anymore can seem overwhelming. The deprivation can seem too much. So how about, like any skilled politician, using the technique of kicking the can down the road. When you really feel like eating that chocolate biscuit, set a timer for 10 minutes and promise yourself the biscuit in 10 minutes time. Over time push this time back, with the promise that you can always have the biscuit x minutes later. What you’ll probably notice is that the cravings diminish. Psychologists have found that quite often you relish the craving more than the actual consumption anyway.

The Ugly Habits
Heavily addictive substances need a host of techniques and therapies and are extremely difficult to quit. Typical opioid withdrawal rehabilitation can have success rates as low as 20%. In cases of ugly habits one of the best things to change is your environment. Studies have shown that people who resist temptation the best simply don’t expose themselves to temptation in the first place. So above all, make sure you’re well away from the environment that’s conducive to your ugly habit. If you’re trying to give up drinking don’t buy alcohol when you go to the shops and don’t go into the pub.

Above all Have a reason for changing. A really important reason for change and each time you struggle to apply a new habit remind yourself of this reason.

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