Photo by Keira Burton on

Think about a routine you do every day. Without fail, you do this every day. What does it look like? Maybe it’s not even something you’re aware of. For example, every day after I make a cup of coffee, I always check my calendar.

That is the basic format of a routine. There’s a cue “after I make coffee”, that initiates the routine, “I always check my calendar”. And following usually comes some sort of reward, “I feel accomplished” , “I feel good”, “I feel prepared”, “I feel proud”, etc. By knowing this simple formula, we can manipulate each part to either extinguish unwanted routines, or systematically build healthy routines.

Here is a super easy place to get started: flossing. Probably not something you do every day but would contribute to overall better dental hygiene and your dentist would pleased. Let’s systematically manipulate the habit cycle to set us up for a successful new habit of flossing our teeth.

Cue: the floss. Where is your floss? In some drawer somewhere? Out of sight is truly out of mind, so put your floss right next to your tooth brush.

Routine: Routines work the best if you start AS SMALL AS POSSIBLE. What is the very smallest part of this routine that I can perform in order to still check the box labeled “Floss”? I can floss ONE tooth. That’s it! That is my only expectation. If I choose to floss more than one tooth, bonus points! But for the sake of starting a new habit, we start small and simple.

Reward: Yay! I feel successful, my mouth feels cleaner and fresher! Maybe I even add in a little arm pump or pat on the back, whatever makes you feel like you have won!

This is a super simple introduction to habit formation and healthy living routines. If you want to learn more about this or work on implementing more difficult routines, contact us at Mountain Mindset Counseling today!

May all beings be well and free!

Published by annkendig

I am a mental health and addiction therapist in Cincinnati Ohio. Happy exploring and may all beings be well.

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