The Ripple Effects of Habit
The health & wellness world can be narrowminded when they talk about approaches to creating health. They have conversations like, “Do this to lose weight!” or “Do this to have more energy!” or “Do that to lower your risk of heart disease!” While pursuing any of these results is certainly worthwhile, we should not ignore the impact that our habits have on other aspects of our lives, even if those effects are not as obviously direct.
For example, The New York Times recently ran an article discussing how poor sleep habits can hurt your relationships. While we might think about sleep in terms of our energy levels or our ability to recover from exercise, we should not ignore the way it—or any other habit—can ripple into other areas. If you are not practicing Habits of Healthy Sleep, your decision-making can be impaired and your general lack of energy can hold you back from truly being present with the ones you love. Yes, the direct physical consequences of poor sleep are important, but the other consequences are important as well.
The good news here is that building Habits of Health means that you can harness this “halo effect” to improve many aspects of your life at once.
You don’t need to be aware of these benefits to reap them, but becoming more mindful of how your choices create rich rewards is empowering. In the Habits of Health, we talk about the importance of framing your journey around what you gain rather than what you lose because of how it structures your thinking. When you choose not to eat a candy bar, it’s not about losing the sugary reward, it’s about gaining more time with your family and having more vibrancy to pursue your passions.
If Habits of Healthy Sleep have the potential to improve your relationships, what other halo effects can you benefit from? Here are some examples:
- Improving Habits of Healthy Motion can actually lower stress levels and improve brain function, which can mean better decision-making and improved learning ability.
- Working on your Habits of Healthy Eating can give you more restful sleep (especially if you address your caffeine intake and the timing of your fuelings) and can also guard you against a wide range of diseases.
- Addressing Habits of Healthy Relationships can actually lead to increased longevity and potentially make your body more resilient to disease.
- Practicing Habits of a Healthy Mind can reduce strain on your body (as stress levels drop so do risks of heart disease) and enhance your ability to more rapidly adopt new Habits of Health.
Your health is an interconnected web of cause and effect, which is why we talk so much about the power of choice and the power of habit. Even the smallest behaviors can have far-reaching consequences and rewards. Though the examples we covered here only scratch the surface of the full picture of Habits of Health, I hope you can start to see just how powerful the choices before you can be.
You have a lot to gain with each new habit, so keep at it!