Human beings are very much creatures of habit.
So much of what we do is repeated behaviours, often without us even being aware that this is what we are doing. From eating the same small selection of meals, to having the same bedtime routines, driving to work the same way, and stopping each morning for a coffee at the same time.
Essentially there is nothing wrong with our habitual nature.
Routines such as these help to make us feel safe and secure. We know what to expect with less risk of nasty surprises.
Anyone who has taken care of small children will know how much comfort they get from familiar things, and also how much easier life can be when there are routines to follow! And certainly as adults we are no different. Evolutionary our ancestors used habits and routines to protect themselves from a potentially dangerous world, working out what and where was safe then sticking to this to reduce the risks. Although modern life (in many ways!) is not as inherently dangerous as the one our predecessors lived, the craving for safety and security is still a huge part of our makeup.
But as with any inbuilt trait, such an approach can have disadvantages as well as advantages.
Habits can keep us stuck, limit our ability to try and see something new and, in some cases, be harmful.
Certainly when it comes to our health there is a trade-off between the positives and negatives of our tendency towards habitual behaviour.
Developing good health habits can only ever be a good thing but habits such as smoking, drinking too much, poor diet and the misuse of drugs are very definitely not good!
Whilst these example are somewhat obvious there is another element to our like of repeated actions which can also impact on our health – our tendency to repeat the same approaches to resolving health issues, even when these are not as successful as they could be.
There is a saying which I believe comes from the NLP world that states ‘if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got’.
In other words, if you keep repeating the same action then the same outcome will always occur – you will see no change.
But how many times do we stick with the same treatment, remedy, medication or health intervention even though we don’t see the outcomes we wish, simply out of habit – the fact that in some way it feels familiar and ‘safe’.
But as the saying above is attempting to point to, trying a different approach may help to shift things, provide a better outcome, or even just open your mind to a new possibility.
So just for once why not try breaking a health habit rather than creating one, and try something new?
Who knows what positive benefits you will see?