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Got some bad habits you've been meaning to get rid of? Want to pick up some good ones, like daily jogging? Here's how.

When you woke up this morning, did you make your bed? How about socks, left one or right one first? Did you eat the same thing again for breakfast? How about a shower? You brushed your teeth, didn’t you? Why am I asking all these questions? Sorry, it’s just a habit.

Habits are powerful because they are - for the most part - subconscious actions. You really do not need to think about brushing your teeth in the morning, you just do it. You subconsciously know to make your bed in the morning, which makes you feel great afterward because your day is now off to a great start. However, when there is good, there is also bad.

Nail biting, nervous hair touching, shaking your leg, leaving the dishes in the sink are all commonly considered bad habits. They are all subconscious actions that have negative implications behind them. If you have a bad habit you’ve been meaning to shake or have the desire to start a new, positive habit, let’s dive into a method that will definitely help you get started.

The author of The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg, introduced the “habit loop.” Let’s consider nail biting for example. A habit is simply a result of previous stimulations in the brain’s reward system. You bite your nail and feel accomplished afterwards. Duhigg outlines that a habit needs a cue, a routine and a reward in order for it to flourish. Seeing a hangnail is the cue for you to begin the routine of nail biting, and your brain receives the reward for a sense of satisfaction.

If you want to stop a bad habit, you must change the routine. You see a hangnail which cues you to eliminate it, but instead of biting it off, you change the routine by using a nail clipper to remove it, and your brain receives the same reward of satisfaction. Sounds easier said than done - essentially, we must trick the brain to get the results we want.

This applies to great habits as well. If you lack daily movement and want to start neighborhood jogging, the habit loop system is where you want to start. The first step is to identify a cue that you are fond of. Maybe this is sleeping in your running clothes so when you wake up in the morning, your brain receives a cue to exercise. Your routine might look like immediately putting your shoes on, grabbing any additional clothes and embarking on your journey. Once completed, your brain receives the reward of satisfaction for completing a desired goal. By valuing the reward you receive after completing the goal, the habit will stick. If you do not appreciate the reward your body received from running, you will stop, therefore never building the habit.

Our brains are tricky to change, but arguably one of the most powerful organs we have in our body. Try out the habit loop system today in any areas of your life you want to improve upon, and believe in yourself along the way. Practicing great mental health and wellness is the key to being the best version of you.

Looking for more wellness tips? Check out asirecreation.org/beach-balance.

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