HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — How are your New Year’s resolutions coming along?
Many people set out to start new, healthy habits every January — but many of those habits don’t end up sticking. 24-year-old Sanele Lasana is working on building several new routines for herself this new year.
“Exercise, stretching, eight hours of sleep – which I’m not good at – and praying,” she said.
Lasana is an entrepreneur who owns her own business coaching adult gymnastics. To prepare herself to help others, she says she has to help herself.
“It’s super important because if I’m not good, then my business isn’t good. So I definitely make sure I prioritize myself,” she said.
Lasana uses an app called Notion to track her habits. However, Paul Bennett, a licensed clinical social worker with Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, warns not to get trapped by the app.
“If you look at an app and think, ‘oh I failed,’ and ‘oh, I didn’t get it today,’ it’s about being kind and calm and encouraging with yourself, Bennett said.
Bennett explains that stress is the biggest reason people fall off their resolutions before we even hit St. Patrick’s Day.
“Our brains are very good at developing pathways that get well worn, and so our habits that we have, they tend to dominate. When we get stressed, we tend to fall back on those well-worn pathways,” he said.
Bennett suggests two different approaches to building habits. The first is a strategy called “temptation bundling” – doing something you love to do while doing something you maybe don’t want to do. For example, watching your favorite tv show while jogging on the treadmill.
“When you connect those two things, you connect your ‘wants’ and your ‘shoulds.’ We never like to do the ‘shoulds’ but we want to do the ‘wants’ — so if we can connect that it attaches one pathway with another and keeps it moving along,” he said.
The next is called ‘habit stacking’ – taking a habit that is already ingrained in you and connecting it with something you want to start doing.
“So that would be something like, ‘I’m going to brush my teeth and think of three good things that happened to me that day.’ So if one of the goals you had was to develop more gratitude that would help and you could connect it with something,” he said.
Finally, Bennett says one of the most important steps one can take when trying to make a change is to have a partner.
“You have to look around your circle and ask myself, ‘Well who is willing to make this change with me?’ Because when you have a partner, someone to do it alongside you, when you’re having a rough day with it, maybe they’re not,” he said.