The Wellness Habits Project: Start Your Wellness Project, Introduction and Overview

The Wellness Habits Project is an opportunity for you to start incorporating new habits into your life to improve your physical health, mental health, relationships, and community.

Starting in January 2017, a new suggested habit will be posted every week along with researched information about how the habit can help you make choices that improve your wellness. No fluff, folklore, or fads. We select and present each habit based on peer-reviewed, scientifically supported studies. Each habit is small, achievable, and easily combined with other habits to help you develop new routines.  Choose the habits that work for you, modify them as you like, or develop your own wellness habits.  Over time, your new habits will combine into a healthier lifestyle.

These proposed habits are suggestions, not advice. We do not know what your unique needs are, and what benefits one person may harm another. By engaging in this project, you agree that you will always talk to your own medical provider, mental health provider, and other expert professionals about any new habits you plan to try or adopt and receive their approval before getting started.

This project may also be used as a tool by mental health providers to help clients using ACT values-based committed action, CBT based behavioral activation, or other task-based interventions, such as in the treatment of anxiety, depression, or stress. (Please see disclaimer at the end of this article.)

How to Make New Habits Stick

Adopt It: Do It and Reward Yourself!

Brains typically engage in new behaviors if it believes it will be rewarded for the behavior. So let’s start by teaching your brain that this new habit will lead to rewards.

A big part of adopting a new habit is to understand why the behavior is probably good for you. If your brain believes that a behavior will have a beneficial outcome for you, you will be more likely to want to engage in that behavior. So first, learn why it will be beneficial. “If I exercise, it will help me feel stronger and more powerful” can create an instant motivation to do push-ups if feeling stronger and powerful is reward.

Immediately after completing a new behavior that you want to adopt as a habit, reward yourself! By giving yourself a reward immediately after starting a new behavior, your brain will start to associate the behavior with positive consequences and will be more likely to adopt it as a new habit. (For you science lovers, this is called operant conditioning.)

However, don’t just give yourself any reward. You don’t want to reward yourself for jogging for 5 minutes by eating a cookie. Your reward should ideally be beneficial in the short-term and the long-term.  For example, rewards could include

  • saying mindfully to yourself, “I did something good for myself,” and letting yourself feel pride;
  • posting your accomplishment on social media;
  • doing something you enjoy on a typical day, such as indulging in your favorite coffee or tea.

Adapt It: Customize the New Habit to Work for You

In the healthcare community, one of the ideas drilled into our heads in graduate school is the need to adapt practices to fit the unique needs of each individual person. Our professors repeated this in every class for an important reason; no single person is “average” (it’s just a math and statistics concept), so no single suggestion will work for everyone.

Adapt the suggested habit, so it will work for you.

Attach It: Do It After Something You Already Do as a Habit

Link that new habit to your old habit by doing it immediately after the routine you already have.  By adding the habit to an already established routine, your brain will use the routine as a trigger to do the habit. Before you know it, you’ll be doing it on auto-pilot.

Let’s say you brush your teeth every morning, and you want to start a new habit of putting on sunscreen.  Put on that sunscreen right after you finish brushing your teeth; then go on with your day. Over time, you will automatically put on sunscreen without even thinking about it.

Get Started

1) Sign up for our Wellness Habits Project. It’s FREE!

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When you sign up for the project, we send you an email whenever we post a new habit or tool to the Wellness Habit Project.

We won’t send you advertisements or junk, and we don’t sell your name or email address to anyone. (FYI: emails are managed by MailChimp)

2) Browse through Previous Habit Suggestions

Look at the habits already posted. Pick out the ones you want to start. Then decide how frequently you want to add new habits to your life. I recommend adding 1 new habit every week, but if you feel ready to adopt 2 or 3 per week, give it a try.

(Note: the start date of this project is 1 January 2017, so if you are signing up before or soon after this time, you will probably benefit most by signing up for the weekly email to get notified when new habits or posted.)

3) Get Started!

And don’t forget: adopt, adapt, and attach.

Get started today. The longer you delay, the less likely you are to start this habit at all.

Wellness Habits Are the Foundation of a Life of Well-Being

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