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Benefits of focusing on habits versus goals

My mental health and spirits continue to improve as I persist with my daily mental health journey. This month I share an observation around adherence to habits I made recently.

Adherence can be defined as “the extent to which a person’s behaviour corresponds with the agreed recommendations of a health care provider.” In the case of mental fitness daily habits, the purpose is to promote and protect emotional well-being. Adherence in this case can be measured by the degree one engages in their daily mental fitness plan habits selected to generate positive emotions, regulate life stressors, and promote emotional well-being.

A neat experience in the past few weeks sparked this memo. Because I have been feeling much better, I had become lax about daily mental fitness plan habits without realizing it. I had to have this experience to notice why. I slipped because I was feeling better, and my unconscious mind saw an opening to relax.

Somehow, my unconscious mind convinced me to not worry about some daily habits and relax the daily discipline because I am feeling better. This is a mental relapse. When we stop thinking about the why and purpose of daily health habits, we are at more risk of thinking about engaging in old habits that
did not serve us well.

As a bartender’s son, I have been around drinking my entire life. I enjoy a few beers with friends and going out to eat and enjoying a glass of wine. With summer and an expanded social circle, I have focused more on having fun. The change I began to rationalize was it was OK to break my rule of allowing myself to have only a couple of drinks on Friday night. After a week of visiting, I realized I did not follow any of my daily routines and was not feeling energetic when I got back home. I did not beat myself up; I just sat with my truth about what I wanted. I want long-term health, and I do not need to have a few drinks several days a week.

All the best – Dr. Bill Howatt

Dr. Bill Memo Article 6

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