The holiday season is as taxing as it is festive and fun. It’s a time when self-care is crucial but falls to the wayside in the wake of celebratory responsibilities and daily obligations. To help you stay physically and mentally balanced throughout the rest of the year, we’re giving five lucky winners a 6-month Headspace membership plus James Clear’s Atomic Habits book, which teaches you how to build healthy micro habits sustainably. Combining this popular meditation app and literature based on proven theories of habit formation is just the support system you need to motivate real change. Let’s explore the benefits of each resource.
Heal Your Mind With the Headspace Meditation App
Meditation as an effective healing and wellness practice has been proven through countless peer-reviewed studies and data-backed research. Integrating it into your daily routine has been shown to reduce anxiety, increase mind-body awareness, decrease stress, and enhance cognitive function.
The Headspace website states, “We provide mindfulness tools for everyday life, including meditations, sleepcasts, mindful movement, and focus exercises. Our enterprise offerings combine this experience with a human-centered model of care, with coaching, therapy, psychiatry, and EAP services under one roof. Our team of experts ranges from mental health clinicians to Emmy award-winning producers and data scientists, working together as one to help millions of people around the world be healthier and more productive.”
We believe in the value of this resource so much at Santa Barbara Athletic Club that we’ve been promoting the app with free subscriptions, and this October is no different. Visit our Instagram for updates on this exciting giveaway, including a free copy of the Atomic Habits book. Speaking of which…
Healthy Micro Habit Formation
Breaking bad habits and adopting good ones is a mysterious process that seems to elude most people. That’s because, with time and repetition, our brain forms neural pathways that reinforce behavioral loops. Some habits, like drinking wine or indulging in late-night ice cream treats, trigger our brain’s reward system. They make us feel good, and it’s very difficult to quit a habit that stimulates the physiological response of euphoria. Occasionally, however, the desire to be healthier and happier is more appealing than a fleeting moment of bliss.
Leading habit-formation expert James Clear wrote Atomic Habits to hack the habitual feedback loop. According to Clear, the book “draws on the most proven ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible.” Essentially, the book’s thesis is predicated on the theory that making tiny changes compounds into big transformations.
Clear argues that breaking down the habit loop starts with reverse-engineering the reward system we touched on earlier. To do that identifying the cue, craving, response, and rewards that lead to both good and bad habits is key.
To integrate a new, positive behavior, Clear introduces the four laws of behavior change:
- Make it Obvious: Make cues for good habits obvious and cues for bad habits invisible.
- Make it Attractive: Increase the perceived attractiveness of good habits.
- Make it Easy: Simplify the process of performing good habits.
- Make it Satisfying: Associate immediate rewards with good habits.
Clear’s Proven Strategies
Identifying your cues requires self-awareness and reflection, so embrace the detective within! To simplify the process, the author includes some strategies, like:
- Habit Stacking: Attaching a new habit to an existing routine.
- The Two-Minute Rule: Take the punishment and discomfort out of a new habit by doing it for just two minutes. Initiating and continuing the new habit is easier in short increments.
- Identity-Based Habits: Blind loyalty to who you think you are is limiting and toxic. Clear writes that transforming your identity is the key to transforming habits. For example, instead of saying: “I need to exercise, but I’m not athletic,” you say, “I go to the gym four days a week. It makes me feel strong.”
- The Law of Least Effort: Humans are attracted to ease and repulsed by complexity. Think about it: would you like to pay your monthly bills manually, or do you gravitate towards the scheduled instant bill pay option? Do you want to prepare and cook three healthy meals daily, or would a nutritional meal delivery service be more realistic? The point is to make good habits easier and bad habits difficult.
It’s important to release shame surrounding bad habits or discouragement surrounding building good ones. Change is uncomfortable, and maintaining homeostasis is built into our DNA. Accept that setbacks and unforeseen circumstances will interrupt your progress. Remember, this is not about being the best, just trying to be better.
Intentional Collabs for Healthy Micro Habits and Mental Wellness
Stress prompts us to rely on established habits because they’re our most dependable coping mechanisms. Breaking the habit loop is not a linear journey. Anyone trekking it is brave and bold, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. Our Headspace giveaway is designed to address the stress that meditation alleviates, and a free copy of Atomic Habits takes advantage of your increased mindfulness. Visit our Instagram page for a chance to win this dynamic duo!