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Change a Habit in the New Year

In the spirit of the new year, and resolutions that are notorious for being broken, let’s talk about changes in our routine that can stick: Habits. We’ve all heard the saying, “It takes 21 days to make a habit, but only 3 to break it.” Some substitute friendlier or more daunting numbers, but can it really be the same for everyone? One study found that it can take anywhere from 18-254 days to form a habit.

No change can occur without a goal. Whatever your goal may be, no matter if it’s making more time for yourself, exercising more, or reducing stress. It’s all possible with the right plan and attitude.

Change a Current Habit

Think hard about the habit you’d like to change or develop, and understand what steps you will need to take to change it. For example, say you’d like to feel less stressed in the new year. Consider what you typically feel when you’re stressed out. Why do you want to change? Chronologue these emotions and physical symptoms. When you’re feeling stressed, does your stomach tighten up? Do you lash out at those you love most? Being aware of these symptoms allows you to have a better handle on your emotions as they’re happening.

You’ve heard that Rome wasn’t built in a day, the same is true for habits. The reason they’re often so daunting is because we’re setting a year’s worth of expectations all at once. Say to yourself, this week I will try this exercise when I get stressed out. If it doesn’t work, try a different exercise next week. Each week, reevaluate where you are in your overarching goal. Once you’ve made one step, take another. Changing an old habit is a marathon, not a sprint.

Make a New Habit

When setting a new goal, it’s always helpful to develop a plan consisting of action items that will help you achieve it. Whether it’s taking three deep breaths when you recognize you are feeling stress, slowly counting to ten, or any other method you choose. Having this step on hand will help ease symptoms of stress when you become aware of them, and knowing that you have a plan in place may even reduce stress symptoms altogether.

Developing a new habit can be a challenge, but it’s also immensely rewarding when you realize it becomes a part of your daily routine. It’s important to keep reminding yourself why you’d like to keep this habit. Think of all the ways your life will be better and different once you’ve accomplished your goal.

If your goal in the new year is something big, and you’re not sure you can do it yourself, contact us at Choices Psychotherapy. We offer a variety of services to get you on the right track. There’s no reason to take this challenge on by yourself. We specialize in behavioral modification, anxiety issues, and stress management to name a few. There’s a path that’s best for you, and we can help you find it. Choices is located in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and caters to clients located all over the Twin Cities metro area.