There’s no doubt that practising good habits consistently has a positive effect on our well-being.
We know that good habits are important, however, if you’re anything like me, there will be times when these habits slip.
We all let our good habits slide sometimes.
The happiest and most successful people aren’t those who never let their habits slip – they are the ones who pick them back up again and get back on track.
So how can you get back to practising your good habits?
In this post, I’ll take a look at what can cause our habits to slip, and share some tips on how to reset and get those good habits back on track.
What are good habits?
Good habits are behaviours that are helpful to us.
They are not the habits that we think we should be doing, and they are not the things that we think others expect of us.
They are the little behaviours that align with our values, our intentions and our goals and desires.
They are the helpful behaviours that get us closer to where we want to go.
Why do good habits slip?
In short, habits slip because we are human.
There will be times when we lose motivation, we get distracted, or we simply get tired and need a break.
Not only that, being human means we are constantly dealing with change.
Whether it’s changing seasons, health (our own and others), relationships, commitments, or all the other things going on in our lives, change is inevitable, requiring us to re-examine and readjust our daily habits.
Change of routine
When we first start out trying to create a new habit, one of the most effective strategies is to incorporate it into our daily routine.
Routines are great because:
- they help to ensure that we do the important things, including those things that contribute to our well-being (such as self-care)
- help keep us focussed and on top of tasks, and
- they eliminate decision fatituge, freeing up mental bandwidth, which helps us to feel calmer
Read more: How routines will improve your life
However, this also means it’s easy for habits to slip whenever our daily routine changes. For example, during the holidays, while on vacation, moving house, or starting a new job.
But while building a new habit takes time and effort, the good news is that once we’ve established the habit it’s easier to pick it back up if we’ve let it slide.
Starting again is easier than starting the first time.
We have the tools we need, and our brain has developed neuro-pathways when it created the habit, so we don’t have to start from scratch.
Stress is a part of life, and in itself isn’t always a bad thing. Without a little bit of stress, we probably wouldn’t get anything done.
However, when stress feels like it’s overwhelming or unmanageable it can have a negative impact on all areas of our lives, including our good habits.
How to get back to good habits
1. Forgive yourself
Beating yourself up about letting your good habits slide isn’t at all helpful.
Self-criticism isn’t an effective strategy for getting back on track or practising good habits more consistently.
Renowned self-compassion expert Dr Kristen Neff has shown that people who respond to their own setbacks with compassion rather than beating themselves up about it, have better mental and physical health, are more resilient, and are more likely to reach their goals.
Self-compassion – treating yourself with kindness and accepting you are a human who isn’t perfect, is key to getting your good habits back on track.
Read more: How self-compassion will improve your life
2. Examine your why
Think about why is this habit important to you.
Why did you start doing it? Is that reason still relevant or important to you?
Perhaps this was a habit you started because you thought it’s something you should do?
Re-evaluate whether it is something you actually want to do.
If it’s a habit that aligns with who you are now and how you want to live your life, recommit to it.
3. Acknowledge your reality
If you’ve been dealing with change, and increased stress as a result, acknowledge this.
Tune into how you’re feeling, and consider how taking steps back toward a particular habit could improve your well-being in your current situation.
Changes in your life may also mean adjusting your expectations – particularly around how long or how often you can practice a particular habit.
For example, if you now have less time to practice yoga each evening because your work schedule has changed, you might decide to do a shorter practice, practice at a different time of day, or practice 3 times a week rather than every evening.
4. Start small
If it feels daunting to jump back in where you left off, don’t put that pressure on yourself.
Ditch the all-or-nothing mindset and start small.
Similarly, if you have a few habits that you want to get back to, start with just one.
Doing something, no matter how small is always better than doing nothing – helping you to build the confidence and momentum to move forward.
5. Create accountability
Make a decision to get started again and then let a friend know.
Put it in your schedule, and check in regularly with your friend to report on your progress.
6. Celebrate success
We often don’t give ourselves enough credit for what we do accomplish.
If tracking habits is helpful to you, use a habit tracker to track your progress and give yourself a pat on the back, or a gold star every time you practice your habit.
In the long run, the quality of our lives often depends on the quality of our habits– James Clear, Atomic Habits
So to wrap up, if you’re keen to get your good habits back on track begin by treating yourself with kindness and self-compassion.
Acknowledge that you are human, recommit to the helpful habits that are important to you, and just start again.