Psychologists who study the best ways to form healthy habits consider life events a ‘window of opportunity’ because they disrupt our routine. The COVID-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis have made many of us stop and deliberately consider our lives. So, could this be the time to start doing something you feel would be good for your mental health?
In this article, we provide some tips to help you develop a new healthy habit (e.g. exercising, spending more time with family and getting enough sleep) which, in turn, could help to reduce anxiety, stress and low mood. These are based on the science of habit formation and the personal experience of the author, Paulina, an expert in behaviour change who works with the Good Thinking team.
But, first, what exactly is a habit? It’s not that easy to define. Think about one of your routine activities, such as doing the laundry or making a cup of tea – can you remember exactly when it became a habit? Perhaps this definition is useful: A habit is a chosen behaviour that is repeated until it becomes automatic.
Let’s unpack this using the following step-by-step instructions, with an example of a habit that Paulina developed that helped her to be more resilient to stress. Over to Paulina…
Good Thinking resources
- Benefits of healthy sleep patterns (podcast)
- Five ways to good mental wellbeing (article)
- Free NHS-approved wellbeing apps
- How to maintain a healthy, balanced diet (article)
- How to quit smoking and stay calm in the process (article)
- Build healthy habits with the tomo community (podcast)