We all are creature of habits and need habits to survive. Habits and structure are good if not too rigid. We also develop automatic behaviors in order not to have to relearn things all over again. We tie our shoes automatically, drive to work automatically while we are solving a difficult problem in our head (sometimes it is not so good!), our fingers learn our key board or piano and play automatically etc..
Habits and automatic behaviors however need to be reexamined when they are not conducive to health and happiness. We all have been guilty of having some not so healthy ones such as overuse of our phones and social media, excessive sitting or lack of movement, overeating or indulging in too many sweets or fatty foods, smoking cigarettes, indulging in excessive alcohol intake or other addictive substances. Some of these habits are totally automatic meaning we do not decide to eat 10 cookies, it just happens or it just happens that we walk towards the fridge. These patterns can be extremely hard to break, but there are resources that can help us break such patterns. And here again gentle awareness is key.
There are major obstacles to changing unhealthy patterns and adopting healthier ones. Internally, we need to be biologically ready, that is not severely depressed or anxious, or suffering from other medical conditions that will diminish our ability to carry the healthy behaviours we want to adopt.
We also need to provide a larger context of meaning, purpose, love to ourselves and others for change to be maintained over time. Change coming out of fear or coercion does not last.
Other obstacles are external and make change very difficult. The most important ones are called social and environmental determinants of health. In order to change, we need a minimum of time and economic stability, so not working 2-3 jobs for example. We need to have access to a safe environment to move in, that is access to safe walking, biking, nature and parks, and access to affordable healthy food and clean air and water. Thus, we need public policies to make change feasible in our larger community.
Let us work together to make it happen!