Most of us don’t consciously recognize when we are creating a habit. Habits are automatic ways of doing, seeing and acting. It’s a subconscious routine. Psychologist Wendy Wood, author of Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick, suggests that “a habit is a sort of a mental shortcut to repeat what we did in the past that worked for us and got us some reward.”
According to Wood’s research, about 43% of what we do in a day is repeated automatically in the same context. Habits can be good for us, like brushing our teeth, but they can also be bad for us, like venturing to the refrigerator too many times.
How long does it take to create a habit? A 2009 study in the European Journal of Social Psychology suggests about 66 days.
Because of social distancing, the patterns in which we work, interact and relax are changing. By the time we are back to “normal” (whatever that may mean), 66 days will likely have passed. This presents an opportunity to develop both good and bad habits.
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