Habits – the things we do and say automatically, without thinking – are a very big part of our lives.

They show up in our everyday activities (showering, driving, eating) … the way we talk (gestures, phrases, style) … even the way we think (self-talk, fears, judgments).

We develop habits because they make life simple. They automate our behaviour so we can accomplish things without much attention or effort.

Wouldn’t it be nice to “automate” some healthy habits of your own choosing? What if you consistently went to the gym, without even thinking about it? What if you always went to bed on time, just because?

Well, you can! Developing new healthy habits might be easier than you think. Here’s how:

1. First, pick a healthy habit to establish. (Let’s use exercise as an example.)

2. What would be the smallest action you could take to get started? (e.g. you could simply put on your running shoes.) Commit to doing this one small thing on a regular basis, ideally on a schedule.

3. Set up a reminder to help you remember your currently forming healthy habit. (e.g. put a note in your calendar, or place your running shoes somewhere where you will see them easily)

4. When you feel ready, gradually increase your level of commitment. Just be sure to make small changes over time; sudden or drastic changes rarely stick.

5. Share your commitment to your new healthy habits with someone. Accountability really helps.

6. Identify the personal values you are honouring with your action. (e.g. if you value health and self-care, recognize that exercise is supporting something that’s important to you.)

7. Notice how good you feel when you follow healthy habits; give yourself kudos for taking this positive step.

8. Stick with your new habit for at least 30 days. Before long, this behaviour will feel automatic and you won’t have to think about it anymore.

9. If you do slip, don’t beat yourself up and don’t give up – simply begin again the next day!