Understanding Habit Formation

Habit formation is the process by which new behaviors become automatic. If you instinctively reach for a cigarette the moment you wake up in the morning, you have a habit. By the same token, if you feel inclined to lace up your running shoes and hit the streets as soon as you get get home, you've acquired a habit. Old habits are hard to break and new habits are hard to form. That's because the behavioral patterns we repeat most often are literally etched into our neural pathways. The good news is that, through repetition, it's possible to form new habits (and maintain them as well). 

Recent Posts on Habit Formation

How to Tidy Your Home Mindfully

By Marlynn Wei M.D., J.D. on February 26, 2015 in Urban Survival
Could the cluttered state of your home be holding you back? Marie Kondo's method of decluttering is about more than tidying the home—surrounding yourself with things that bring you joy can help you achieve a greater clarity and awareness of the mind, too.

Work Smarter, Not Harder by Breaking Bad Habits

Just like a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, we're only as good as our worst habits. Getting rid of worst habits allows us to operate more efficiently.

New Sleep Guidelines to Keep Youth Healthy

By Richard Taite on February 24, 2015 in Ending Addiction for Good
Without regular age appropriate amounts of sleep, adolescents are at risk for developing a variety of conditions such as depression, anxiety, weight change, and sometimes insomnia.

Helping Adolescents Keep Agreements

With more actively and passively resistant adolescents parents must work harder to get agreements made. Getting this habit of keeping agreements in place matters for healthy relationships with parents now, and for significant relationships later on.

Use 'One Good Thought' to Change Your Harmful Habit

By Meg Selig on February 20, 2015 in Changepower
To improve your life, connect with your core values. Try this simple, 5-minute technique right now!

Believe the HYPE: Hip-Hop Heals Youth

Hip-hop music as an avenue to improve mental health functioning and adjustment in youth.

A Happy Habit: Celebrating Valentine’s Breakfast

By Gretchen Rubin on February 18, 2015 in The Happiness Project
For minor holidays, these days, I prepare a “holiday breakfast.”

Teaching Adolescents How to Manage Money

When parents neglect money management training with their child and adolescent, the lack can be expensive when they graduate a young person from their care who lacks a very important pillar of self-management responsibility.

Marijuana for Dogs?

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on February 11, 2015 in Canine Corner
With more states in the US legalizing medical and recreational use of marijuana more dogs are becoming exposed to this substance as well. There are some suggestions that this may have benefits for our pets but there are also potential dangers to our pets.

Finding Your Personal Motivator for Fitness

By Matthew B. James Ph.D. on February 09, 2015 in Focus on Forgiveness
The reason you're not motivated to exercise regularly may be that you haven't found a good enough reason to do it.

5 Reasons That Alcohol Makes You Fat

By Richard E. Cytowic M.D. on February 07, 2015 in The Fallible Mind
Most of the calories in drinks come from the alcohol more than the carbs or sugars they contain. There's no getting around the facts, which is why low-alcohol beverages are better for your waistline than low-carb varieties.

Criminality and Dementia

Criminal behaviors that begin in mid or late life may be a consequence of dementia. The types of crimes committed by persons with Alzheimer’s disease differ from those committed by persons with frontotemporal dementia.

Lonely Ants Die Young: They Don't Know What to Do When Alone

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on February 03, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Socially isolated lose ants lose digestive functions and suffer due to this loss. They die at around six days of age, whereas group-living ants die at around 66 days of age. This study on ants shows that social isolation and health are closely related and much more research is needed in this area. It's notable that "even ants" show a negative reaction to loneliness.

Why Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?

By Seth J. Gillihan Ph.D. on January 29, 2015 in Think, Act, Be
The principles behind CBT aren’t new, so why is it so effective?

Write Your Story, Improve Your Health

By Richard Taite on January 28, 2015 in Ending Addiction for Good
Studies have shown that writing about yourself and your personal experiences can improve mood disorders, improve health after a heart attack, reduce doctor visits and even boost memory.

Do You Ever Yield to a Temptation...

By Gretchen Rubin on January 27, 2015 in The Happiness Project
We tell ourselves that we’re acting out of consideration for others and making generous, unselfish decisions. Or, more strategically, we decide we must do something in order to fit in to a social situation.

Practical Management Tips For Dogs With Behavioral Issues

Basic recommendations to manage a dog that exhibits fearful, anxious or reactive behavior in different situations.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

By Seth J. Gillihan Ph.D. on January 14, 2015 in Think, Act, Be
A new blog on PsychologyToday.com will present the latest findings on cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness-based therapy.

Do Not Panic if Your Toddler Is Biting Her Friends

By Jamie Ostrov Ph.D. on December 31, 2014 in Recent Developments
Often very young children are not capable of engaging in actual aggression even if the behavior looks like aggression and results in harm.

8 Renewal Tips for Making Resolutions

By Marlynn Wei M.D., J.D. on December 30, 2014 in Urban Survival
How can you make resolutions that are sustainable and healthy? Usher in the new year with these 8 tips that focus on how to make resolutions based on self-awareness, renewal, and self-compassion.

The Stress-Sex Connection

Stress may be the single biggest culprit affecting intimacy and sex. Using mind-body techniques, sexual problems can be overcome more easily than you think.

Ringing in Good Behavior

By Rebecca Jackson on December 18, 2014 in School of Thought
Why do we choose to donate money to charity at some stores, but not at others? Why do some parental bribes work to illicit good behavior, while others fail miserably? A revealing look at the psychology behind those seemingly random decisions and events.

Breathing Exercises: Counterproductive for Flight Anxiety

By Tom Bunn L.C.S.W. on December 05, 2014 in Conquer Fear Of Flying
Almost every article by psychologists on flight anxiety recommends the use of breathing exercises. Why haven't these professionals looked at the research?

Beck on Why a “Unified Theory” Is the Future of Therapy

By Gregg Henriques on December 05, 2014 in Theory of Knowledge
Famous cognitive psychotherapist A.T. Beck argues that the future of psychotherapy is a "unified theory."

Winter Blues? It Could Be Seasonal Affective Disorder

Read on to learn more about Seasonal Affective Disorder and find out how to properly diagnose and treat it.

The Family of Schizophrenia

By Ann Olson Psy.D. on November 17, 2014 in Theory and Psychopathology
This article examines devastion that emerges within the family constellation as a conquence of the schizophrenic diagnosis of one of its family members. It should be noted that the newly diagnosed will experience raging fear and grief as a result of this diagnosis. Both the family and the schizophrenic may view each other as unrecognizable, and this reflects extreme loss.

How Stress Affects the Immune System

Many of today's illnesses and diseases are triggered by chronic stress, which depresses the immune system and wreaks havoc on every organ system in the body. Using mind-body therapies can reverse that and bring us back to a healthy state.

Excessive Attention Seeking and Drama Addiction

By Billi Gordon Ph.D. on November 04, 2014 in Obesely Speaking
When silent desperation is not silent

Preventing Mental Illness: A Primary Care Approach

By Ruth C. White Ph.D. on November 03, 2014 in Culture in Mind
The marginalization of mental health from physical health reinforces the stigma of mental illness. Mental health systems focus on intervention instead of prevention and thus increases the direct and indirect costs of mental illness. A holistic, whole-body approach would integrate mental health and physical health assessments and referrals and save money and suffering

Sugar High on Halloween? Not a Ghost of a Chance

The entire concept of a "sugar rush" is a lie. Read on for the science debunking this myth...