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We are all creatures of habit. And it is these habits that make our lives so much easier; not having to think about every little thing that we do, every single day. Our brains have so much to deal with, that having habits puts our minds at rest by allowing them to drive in automatic mode.

The problem is, not all of our habits are good for us, so it does require some effort to shift away from bad habits and develop some good ones. While habits may be hard to change, there are a few things that we can do to develop healthier habits.

Here are 7 helpful tips to forming healthy habits

Start small

Begin with small, manageable changes rather than trying to change everything at once. This incremental approach is supported by the concept of “micro-habits,” which are tiny, easily achievable actions that can be built upon over time. For instance, start with a 5-minute daily walk before committing to a more rigorous exercise regimen, or cut out sugary drinks.

Set clear and achievable goals

Setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals can significantly enhance your motivation and progress. Decide what healthy lifestyle habit you want to develop, when you are going to do it, how often, who with and for how long. A goal that is too vague, is hard to achieve.

Develop a routine

Establishing a consistent daily routine helps ‘automate’ healthy behaviours, reducing the effort that our brains need to make decisions. Routines reduce the reliance on willpower, making it easier to stick to healthy habits.

Reward yourself

Reward yourself for meeting your goals, no matter how small. Positive reinforcement strengthens behaviour and increases the likelihood of its repetition. Simple rewards, like a coffee or a treat can keep you motivated to continue.

Track your progress

Monitoring your progress through journals, apps, or calendars can provide visual evidence of your achievements and keep you accountable. We sometimes forget how far we have progressed, so tracking can help you see your accomplishments.

Make healthy choices easy

Design your environment to make healthy choices the easy option. Keep healthy snacks like fruits and nuts visible and within reach, and store less healthy options out of sight.

Don’t go at it alone

Engage with friends, family that share your health goals and support you along the journey. It’s much easier doing activities with other people, plus they provide encouragement, accountability, and motivation. Just remember that every step counts and your future self will thank you for the steps you take!