People develop a number of habits in their lifetime. Habits are formed and maintained consciously as well as unconsciously, e.g. some people developed a routine of daily exercise deliberately and eventually it becomes a habit and some people unconsciously developed a habit of making faces. Habit is a behaviour which is repeated regularly as routine. It tends to occur automatically or subconsciously. It is a behaviour which is very hard to change and form. Habits can be good, like reading and writing, or bad, like addictive and stealing. There are three types of habits – Motor Habits, Intellectual Habits and Habits of Character. Motor Habits include muscular activities like standing, walking, exercising etc. Intellectual Habits are related to psychological processes and includes abilities like logical thinking, decision making etc. Habits of Character include emotional habits like trusting, helping etc.
Habit formation is the process where behaviours becomes automatic or habitual through regular repetitions. The process can be slow depending on what type of habit is being made formed. The average time for the participants to reach the asymptote of automaticity was found to be 66 days with a range of 18 -254 days by Lally et al. The components of habit formation include the context cue, behavioural repetition and the reward.
The context cue refers to anything, like time, location or any stimulus, that causes the behaviour.
Behavioural repetitions include repeating the same behaviour again and again and reward is something which is given in response to the behaviour which leads to the behaviour to get repeated. This forms a habit loop. Behaviour might be repeated to achieve a particular goal or getting rewards, but over time, it becomes automatic, that is, it becomes a habit. The rewards are found to be very effective in forming a habit.
Having good habits are very important as they are the behaviours that occurs routinely in the life. Also, changing the bad habits are important as it may interfere and affect other activities and may also affect the good habits. Habit formation is influenced by some keystone habits which are the habits introduced and unintentionally carry over into other aspects of life. Thus, making effective Habit Formation is very important.
To make Habit Formation effective, firstly, there is a need to make a good start. There should be a strong dedication and motivation towards the behaviour or towards the habit forming. After making a good start, there is a need to keep regular practice of that habit as habit is something which is regular and is in routine in life. Environment also plays an important role in habit formation, so, the environment should be favourable and encouraging to the habit. All these measures help in making the Habit formation effective.
One of the popular methods for habit formation is the 21/90 rule. In this rule, a goal is made which is to be achieved for 21 straight days, that is, continuously for three weeks.
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