Thu, April 25, 2024

Mental Health Matters: Love Your Habits and Routines: The Mental Shift

In a world full of instant gratification and comfort, old habits die hard.

Each day is a new day, a fresh new start to go and conquer the world. But the fact of the matter is we all fall into the slump of the “daily routine” – meaning our minutes, hours, and days are defined by our habits – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

But are habits and routines interchangeable? It would make sense that the simple answer is yes – but the fact of the matter is they are not.


Habits are behaviors done with little or no thought – while routines are a series of behaviors intentionally done on a frequent basis.

According to a recent study at Duke University, over 50% of our daily actions are driven by repetition.  Think about it when your feet hit the floor each morning, what are your next steps literally?

Oftentimes, this can start with being attentive to the way habits form, what type of habits you’re engaging in, and the ways old habits are affecting you physically and mentally. The link between your overall well-being and the behaviors you display in your everyday life can be a STRONG one. How you act—or behave—often works in conjunction with your mental and physical health. Adopting new routines coupled with healthier habits may protect you from serious health problems like obesity and diabetes.

New habits, like healthy eating and regular physical activity, may also help you manage your weight and have more energy. After a while, if you stick with these changes, they become a part of your daily routine.

While there are no easy buttons to push when it comes to changing your habits, the good news is it doesn’t have to be difficult to get started.

Making the leap from thinking about change to taking action can be hard and may take time. Asking yourself about the pros (benefits) and cons (things that get in the way) of changing your habits may be helpful. How would life be better if you made some changes?

Taking some time to assess your behavior may help you recognize whether you’re acting in beneficial or detrimental ways.

With a little bit of intentionality, consistent behavior, self-discipline, and a sprinkle of self-compassion – your best version of yourself is only a few changes away starting today.

But where do you start? Change starts from within and identifying that NEED and COMMITMENT to change our habits and routines. Where are you at in this process and where can you go from here?

Below are the 4 different stages of changing a behavior, habit, and ultimately change into a routine to set yourself up for success:

  • Step 1 Contemplation – Look in the mirror and reflect. You might be CONSIDERING a change – but aren’t quite ready. Maybe you are not sure how to overcome roadblocks by making a change and believe that a change could make a positive impact on your mental and physical well-being. Thinking about what you would like to change and getting motivated to start is CRUCIAL to change.
  • Step 2 Preparation – Congratulations on making the decision to act and choice for change. Now it’s time to create a game plan. Your game plan should include specific goals – which should be small and achievable. Think about the little habits, if changed, could help you to reach your goals.

One of my favorite sayings in creating life and work strategies is my view is 20,000 feet up like an airplane –but work on the runway making choices, decisions, and strategies to achieve those goals.  Be realistic to help set yourself up for success.

  • Step 3 Action – Let’s roll and take action! You are in it to win with your game plan actively and consistently taking daily steps to achieve your goals from small daily habits and building your new routines for change. Set up a schedule and microhabits.

Small CONSISTENT changes in habits over the course of a few weeks can lead to changed habits within months that help to create life-changing routines.

Don’t give up! There will be slip ups, trips, and challenges through the journey of change. Remember to show yourself compassion. Staying the course and remembering your end goal(s) are important.

  • Step 4 Maintenance – After about 6 months of changed habits – that now have become a part of your normal routine, identified achievable ways to stick to your routine, and navigated through the different slip-ups of change challenge traps – you are on the next best version of yourself!


Trust your goals, purpose, and habits as the anchors that keep you going to create life-changing routines, even in the most challenging times.

Monica Bitrick, Director of Fundraising and Community Awareness for Serenity Behavioral Health Systems, helps individuals of all ages who suffer from the many aspects of behavioral health and developmental disabilities. Our mission is to provide the highest quality care in a professional, responsive, and caring manner. Email: or (706) 432-4800)

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