Understanding The Habit Loop

How are your Habits Leading Your Life?

If you follow @happydinneratx on Instagram, you know I’ve been getting curious about habit formation this year. I’ve been working on releasing habits that no longer serve me, and striving to find the discipline to incorporate healthy habits that nourish me. One of my goals this year is to live in a way that supports my personal values. My values include: my family, friends, family dinner, creating a loving home, daily movement, daily gratitude, nourishing food, community, social connection, travel and new experiences.

When I start to examine my daily habits, the things I do unconsciously, they are in one of two categories.

  1. They are actions supporting and enhancing my personal values
  2. They are actions slowing the momentum or interfering with who I want to be!

40%-90% of the things you do everyday are done on auto-pilot!

Think about that. Think about how many actions you are currently doing that are done on auto-pilot. The Power of The Habit Loop is real y’all!! I’m participating in the #next90challenge led by The Hollis Co. and it really got me thinking about which habits support my personal values and who I want to be, and which habits are unaligned with my personal goals… BUT I continue to do them unconsciously because of a Habit Loop I created.

Why is breaking a bad habit so hard? - Meridian Integrative Wellness
Source: Meridian Integrative Wellness

A Habit is made up of three things:

  1. The Cue or Trigger: provokes the unconscious behavior
  2. Routine: Something you do after you are triggered
  3. Reward: Satisfaction from the routine

You can’t eliminate triggers, they are a part of life. However, you can consciously change the routine and adjust the reward with a little discipline. Once you understand why you do the things you do, you can protect the habits that fill you up and make changes to the habits that aren’t aligned with your goals.

The FIVE times we get triggered are related to:

1. Time {After dinner, after kids go to bed) Every day at 6:00 PM you pour a glass of wine to relax.
2. Location {Specific areas are a trigger for something}
3. An Emotional State {Anxious, excited, angry? Emotions provoke a routine to create a reward}
4. Other People {Ex: At a Party}
5. Behavior that has become ritualized {Ex: Making Bed, Making Coffee, Brushing teeth}

For example, since #stayingathome the kids and I have developed a serious after dinner dessert habit!! We’ve created a habit loop around an increase in refined sugar consumption. We’ve been baking & indulging more because it’s fun, has helped calm anxiety + fill the void of social isolation.

After dinner we are now triggered to eat dessert as a part of our routine as a source of happiness or relaxation. At the end of our #homeschool day we are triggered to eat dessert as part of our routine to celebrate that school is out or for a mental break.

These are new habit loops for us and after about a month, we are ready to pump the brakes before this becomes something we do all the time unconsciously!! We can easily find happiness, relaxation and a mental break (the reward we are seeking) by using a different routine.

Our pre-quarantine, 3:00 PM #afterschool habit loop used to include apple + peanut butter “cookies” and it served as a source of happiness, a mental break AND nourishment.

Our pre-quarantine, post dinner habit loop used to include outside play or a puzzle while I cleaned up dinner and packed lunches. Time to return to that routine for our end of day relaxation!

When thinking about which habit loops might be worth re-visiting in your life, pay attention to what provokes your unconscious behavior? How can you create new routines and rewards for yourself when you are triggered?The discipline of consistency is key when forming a new habit or removing an old habit. Give yourself grace + two weeks, and you are on your way to make changes that will serve you and your family well!

The beauty of habit formation with relation to quarantine is there are virtually no external factors that can interfere right now! If you are on a quest for reducing refined sugar, as we are, you don’t have to worry about weekend birthday parties, or the office break room filled with donuts etc. You are in full control of what items enter your home, your pantry and your kitchen.

What habits are you proud of? What is one habit you could ditch? Think about how removing said habit might improve your day, your week, your life! How it might help you live more aligned with your personal values!

Want to dive deeper into this topic? Give this podcast a listen! I highly recommend it!

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Oh hey there!

Welcome to Happy Dinner! I’m Cortney, a Holistic Health Coach, wellness entrepreneur, wife and Mama of two, here to make holistic health simple and engaging!

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