Habits are the small things we do every day. Those regularly repeated behaviours that happen almost automatically without much thought or effort. They are a key part of a mental health self-care regimen.
What you repeatedly do ultimately forms the person you are, what you believe, and your overall personality. Your mood, physical health, and level of success are affected and driven by your habits. Your overall mental health is therefore intrinsically linked to your habits.
Transforming our habits is therefore a valuable tool in our self-care toolbox to help manage our mental health. By forming new habits and breaking negative ones we can help calm anxiety, reduce stress and become healthier overall.
Research says it takes anything from 18 to 254 days to form a new habit, with an average of 66 days for it to become truly automatic. Changing habits is not easy and it does require effort and willpower. Don’t get discouraged though, the good news is that by being consistent and staying committed, you can successfully drive the change.
Track progress. Because we are working in small steps, progress is gradual and can often be lost over time. If we track our progress we can get immediate feedback on our success and an understanding of how we are progressing. This is where a habit tracker tool comes in handy to gain visual feedback on our progress and success.
All of our journals come with 3 months’ worth of habit trackers. If you can successfully maintain a successful streak for that period then there is a high probability that it will become a true habit.
1. Decide on and list your habits
Your first task is to list out the habits you are trying to achieve. In the journals, there is space to group these with sections for morning and evening rituals and a further section for daily habits.
Your morning rituals should include ways that will help you prepare yourself for the day. Evening rituals should include your routine for preparing your mind and body for sleep. Your daily habits will be those things that are less time specific, but that you want to achieve throughout the day, for example, drinking more water or taking set breaks from your work desk.
2. Track your habits over the month
There are then a set of monthly tracking pages with a column of checkboxes for each day where you can log your achievement of each habit as you complete it. Choose how you want to mark these, a couple of common examples are:
- A cross for success, a slash for partial success and a blank if not achieved
- Colouring the box with pencils or highlighters, green for success, orange/yellow for partial success and red if not achieved.
It doesn’t matter what method you use, just choose what works best for you. The aim is that you are tracking your progress and that you can quickly get a visual representation of your level of success.
3. Daily check-in
These habit trackers are then supported by our daily check-in. There is a check box for the morning and evening to remind you to track your habits and for you to log that you’ve done so. Space is also available to log gratitude – a key habit that can have a positive influence on your day (hint, maybe add this as one of your morning habits?). Finally, there are also spaces to log your personal self-care goal for the day, and your overall goals and plans for the day. These could include goals related to your habits amongst those specific to that particular day.
For further information and ideas on potential habits to add to your routine you can also take a look at our blog post on Habits.