Raise your hand if you know exactly what healthy habits you need to do, but you still can’t bring yourself to do them consistently. Well, you’re not alone! I can’t count the number of times I have checked in with a patient to see how their rehab exercises, walking routine, or stretching (you can put just about any habit in here) is going, and they just haven’t been able to keep on track with it.
Our brains like habit, and they also like to respond to visual cues, especially things that give us instant gratification and are easy to do. Here are three tips to start integrating habits that will help improve your life.
1. Habit stacking
This simply means to add the new habit you want to form onto something you are already doing everyday. A few examples of ways I integrate this into my practice is to tell patients to “balance while you brush” – meaning stand on one leg while you brush your teeth! This is a great way to work on strengthening the intrinsic muscles of the foot and also the proprioception (awareness in space to help with balance). This is great after an ankle sprain injury or for elderly patients working on fall prevention. It’s easy, doesn’t take any extra time during your morning or nighttime routine, and is a sure fire way to make sure that rehab gets incorporated every day.
2. Visual Cues
Out of sight, out of mind, right? The opposite is true too. Put your foam roller in plain sight in your living room. Print off your rehab exercises and stick it on the fridge. Put up a post-it somewhere where you will see it daily. Get your gym bag ready and leave it by the front door. The possibilities are dazzling and endless.
3. Make it attractive
What is something that enjoy doing on a daily basis? Find a way to incorporate that healthy habit with your pleasurable activity so the two are intertwined and must be done together. Watching an amazing Netflix series? Don’t allow yourself to watch it unless you also foam rolling or stretching. Have a favorite podcast? Only listen to it while you are walking, cycling, or on the treadmill.
Alright, go out and start changing your brain chemistry! And have fun with it.
Dr. Carly Presakarchuk DC, BScKin