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Changing our Habits

by Erin Brower, LMHC

The new year often prompts reflection on the challenges we faced in maintaining or achieving our goals, shedding old destructive habits, and embracing healthier ones. From sleep schedules to nutrition, exercise to mindfulness routines, many of us have fallen into the New Year’s resolution trap. Let’s approach 2024 differently! Here are a few quick tips and tricks for changing habits without crushing our spirits in the new year:


1. Choose one attainable habit/behavior:

Instead of attempting a complete overhaul of who we’ve been, start small for success. Rather than setting a vague goal like “getting healthier,” try “adding more vegetables to my diet.”


2. Assess your motivation:

Before attempting to change a behavior, understand why you engage in it. For instance, if trying to cut down on sweets, acknowledge if it’s due to hunger, comfort, or perhaps unprocessed anger. Address your motivation consciously as an act of self-care, such as journaling about frustrations.


3. Set yourself up for success:

Rearrange your behavior patterns around the habit you’re changing. For instance, if aiming to stop drinking and you associate it with cooking, try pouring a fancy mocktail instead. Change the context to trick the brain’s muscle memory.


Let’s make 2024 a year of positive change for ourselves and our communities.

4. Challenge negative beliefs:

Our thoughts play a significant role in changing habits. Challenge negative beliefs like “I just suck at certain things” by affirming positive statements. For example, say, “I am in the process of changing every day, learning to alter my relationship with alcohol.”

5. Be patient and consistent:

Understand that it takes 66 days for a new behavior to become muscle memory. Even challenging behaviors, like waking up early for a walk, can become habits if practiced consistently. Start small and stay committed.


These past few years have been tough for many of us—let’s be frank, for most of us. Let’s make 2024 a year of positive change for ourselves and our communities.