Habits of a Healthy Mind
When I was working in critical care, I saw a consistent cycle with patients: They would come into the hospital suffering from a serious health complication, and typically these complications were the result of a lifetime of poor health choices. They ate poorly. They rarely exercised. And after decades of those choices, they faced serious health changes like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, or cancer.
In some cases, our team could address the problem, and we’d discharge them with instructions of what they could change to lower their risk of having to see me again. Invariably, I’d see the patient come back. They tried to make better choices but slipped back into their old habits and were now worse off than before.
That’s why when I began working on Dr. A’s Habits of Health, I knew that the system had to go deeper than nutrition and exercise. We had to understand how people think, how they make choices, and design a consistent process for not only helping people transform their health but also for making that transformation last.
And it starts with Habits of a Healthy Mind.
Ideals and Your Health Goals
Habits of a Healthy Mind encompass the full picture of how your think and how you make choices—which eventually form Habits of Health or Habits of Disease. To realize our full potential, we have to step back and understand how our minds work. This includes how we think, feel, our emotional resilience, and how we respond to our world. A key component of self-awareness and management will be diving deep into your identity to explore how what you think about yourself –things like your self-esteem and the unreachable ideals you build in your mind—only impact your true potential as much as you let them.
Identity is such a complex topic that I worked with my good friend Robert Fritz to develop an entire book on it, which you can order from my store. To get a basic understanding of this topic, start with this blog post.
Mindfulness and Habits of a Healthy Mind
Habits of a Healthy Mind are so powerful because they form the backbone of every other health decision we have to make to create optimal wellbeing in our lives. If we don’t spend the time to understand how we approach choices, we are more likely to slip back into Habits of Disease when times get tough, which is why we see the majority of weight loss efforts fail and while even the idea of making a New Year’s resolution has become an exercise in futility.
In order to reprogram our Habits of Disease into Habits of Health, we have to first awaken ourselves to see the opportunities for better choices in our daily lives. This means becoming mindful of when and why we make choices, compelling ourselves out of the automatic and into the aware. I cover this topic in depth in my books, but here are some quick ways to become more mindful:
- Plan ahead. For example, prep healthy meals ahead of time or use healthy meal replacements to account for what you are going to eat well-before you are sitting at your desk hungry looking across the street at the fast food restaurant.
- Keep a journal. Reflecting on your day to identifying the choices that could have been healthier help to make you more mindful when those scenarios come up again. While it might seem like you’re acting too late, you’re actually preparing for the future.
- Work with a health coach. Talking regularly with someone that not only supports you but also guides you through your health journey can help you to see more opportunities for transforming your health.
Habit Loops and Stop. Challenge. Choose.
Once you understand how your mind works and how it influences your view of yourself and the world around you, you can begin to install your Habits of Health. Each of your habits is rooted in what we call habit loops, a series of events that result from a specific stimulus or trigger, like stress or boredom or fatigue. Becoming mindful of these habit loops is the beginning, understanding how your own habit loops are structured is the next stage toward reprogramming them from Habits of Disease into Habits of Health.
That reprogramming process is easier if you rely on a technique we call Stop. Challenge. Choose. The e-book on this Habits of a Healthy Mind is free to download, but here is the simple overview:
- Step 1: Stop. Recognize that you are triggering a Habit of a Disease. Pause and take a breath to think about the situation. This helps you regain control over your physiology.
- Step 2: Challenge. Remind yourself of your goals and the choices you should be making to reach those goals.
- Step 3: Choose. Make the healthy choice that gives you a similar reward but is much better for your long term health.
Bringing Everything Together
Habits of a Healthy Mind touch every area of the Habits of Health system. When you understand how your brain works, how habits influence your decisions, and how you can take back control of your automatic behaviors and replace them with Habits of Health, you have a set of powerful transformational tools at your disposal. Armed with Habits of a Healthy Mind, you can systematically work through every other habit area to achieve optimal health and wellbeing.
Pick up Dr. A’s Habits of Health today to get started.