Retrain the “Habit Brain”


Understanding Habits

Habits are the small decisions and actions we perform every day. They are behaviors wired so deeply in our brains that we perform them automatically.

Don't Make Resolutions - Create Good Habits

We create morning routines like waking at the same time, exercising or meditating, and showering before we get dressed; we eat breakfast and then drive the same route to and from work. And we do theses things without really thinking about them.

For better and for worse, habits account for about 40% of our behavior each day. They account for our productivity, health, and even our happiness.

Habits often become so strongly ingrained that we keep doing them even though we no longer benefit from them. For example, we all rely on our smart phones to keep us in touch with friends, family and work. However, turning one’s attention to the smart phone every time it dings with a tweet or social media update can distract us from “real connection” to the friends and people we love. It can also waste a lot of time and contribute to poor concentration.

Why Do Old Habits Die Hard?

The New Year is a popular time to set new goals. We resolve to eat healthier, loose weight, get in shape, stop wasting time, spend less, and live better.

Within a few weeks of making the commitment, most of our resolve is little more than a distant memory. Why is so hard to let go of bad habits?

A growing body of research suggests that once a habit is ingrained, it is never really forgotten—and in times of stress, our brain favors routine behaviors. This is referred to as the “habit brain.” Stress is the biggest trigger when it comes to falling back on bad habits.

Never give up!
The experts advise that when letting go of a bad habit, it is very difficult to simply eliminate it. It’s easier if you replace it with an alternative behavior. Recent research at MIT and Stanford Universitysuggests that although habits may be deeply ingrained, the brain’s planning centers can shut them off, especially if they are being replaced with another routine. This is good news if you are one of those people who are low on willpower.

Making lasting changes to old habits takes planning and perseverance. Most people become focused on the end result and fail to establish a ritual they can stick with. Author James Clear offers scientifically sound strategies for making meaningful changes in The Habits Guide: How to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones. He offers many solid strategies for transforming habitual behavior.

Acupuncture to Calm the Habit Brain

Acupuncture treatments can’t change habits, but they can act on the nervous system to help calm the habit brain.

  • Acupuncture relieves stress
  • Acupuncture relaxes muscles and tendons to relieve anger, ease anxiety, reduce irritability, curb cravings and improve sleep
  • Acupuncture improves circulation to help detoxify the body and improve mental focus.

When the habit brain is calm, we have a better chance of successfully choosing healthy alternatives. This is why acupuncture is a an important tool for assisting with addiction recovery.

New Habits - Habit Brain

If you have ever attempted to give up a bad habit, then you know it is not easy. Creating meaningful change, however, is easier to achieve when the body is well balanced and the energy can flow smoothly.

Building good habits is an excellent strategy for success. Small changes over time can and do have a big impact!

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The Healing Point Acupuncture Clinic
Xia Xin, L.Ac., CSMA


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