by Christian Lamper
This is part 2 of the article series "The power of habit". You can find part 1 here.
In the first part of "The Power of Habit" we have already learned that habits play a crucial role in our everyday life.
In addition, we have seen that it is primarily the connections in our brain (keyword: neuroplasticity) that trigger the performance of the habit in a particular context and are thus responsible for the regular occurrence of a habit.
So the strength of a habit also depends on how likely we are to perform it when the temporal and spatial context changes. This could happen, for example, when we travel.
Ultimately, we want to maintain our positive habits regardless of external circumstances. The visualization exercise, in which we imagine the individual actions of the habit, was the first tool to help us implement a new, positive habit.
To make it easier for us to integrate exercise into our daily routine, for example, the best way is to write down the individual steps before, during and after exercise and then hold them in front of our mind's eye for five minutes.
The important thing here is that we really imagine the actions we want to and will perform as accurately as possible, involving our senses. The better we imagine the habit, the easier it will be for us to do it afterwards.
However, there are other tools and helpful tips that we should know so that it is easier for us to perform new habits regularly and thus build them up, or even refresh and stabilize old habits. One of them is the knowledge of our own metabolism and physiology depending on the time of day.
What exactly does this mean? We will find it much easier to perform a new habit during a certain period of time (e.g., after getting up) than at another time. Certain periods of time are more suitable for stabilizing old, already established routines. Up to eight hours after getting up, certain metabolites, such as dopamine, adrenaline and cortisol, are elevated.
This means we are motivated, alert and ready to act. So this phase is especially good for carrying out new habits that we may have already visualized.
The reason for this is that it will be particularly easy for us to muster the mental commitment to implement the habit here, as our metabolism and physiology provide optimal conditions during this time.
So we should implement a new routine as soon as possible after getting up so that we are more likely to do it and be happy for the rest of the day that we have done it.
Incidentally, the joy of this success also helps to establish a new habit. The brain is more motivated to automate the routine if it is rewarded for doing so with positive feelings.
So if we are just starting to exercise and exercise has not been a habit yet, it is best to pick the next possible time after getting up to start. Then it will be easier for us to follow through with the training and at the same time, we will have more energy for the rest of the activities in our day, because training boosts the production of the metabolites described above.
In the period from 9 to 14 hours after getting up, our metabolism shuts down a bit and we are still in an alert but more relaxed state, which is mainly favored by an increased release of serotonin. So this is where we can incorporate habits that relax us, such as meditation. We can also move habits to this phase that are already a regular part of our daily routine.
Also, caffeine should be avoided during this time.
Why this is particularly important becomes especially apparent in the next phase:
The last phase, which for most will hopefully be "sleep", is extremely important, especially for strengthening new habits, including connections, in our brain. So, by avoiding caffeine, we create good conditions for restful sleep and processing the information of the previous day.
In addition, we should avoid bright cell phone lights and intense workouts shortly before bedtime (at least 60 minutes). This may not always be easy or accommodating for us - but if we want to form a new, important habit, it's crucial to know that sleep is exactly the time period in which we can really stabilize that habit. For this reason, I felt it was important to mention these additional points so that we can give ourselves the best possible conditions for establishing a habit.
After all, regularity of phase breakdown and restful sleep help our brain build a habit during recovery.
As a brief summary, you can see the phases and what you need to know about them summarized here:
0 – 8 hours after waking up
Dopamine, Adrenaline and Cortisol ↑
Best new habits for which we have to overcome something
Attentive and focused:
Sports, "cold exposure," caffeine.
9 – 14 hours after waking up
Existing habits that we have already stabilized
Attentive, but more relaxed state:
16 – 24 hours after waking up
Stabilization and change of the neuronal connection in our brain
Good sleep for strengthening our habits
No cell phone light, no caffeine, no intense exercise.
Feel free to take a screenshot of the table so you can access this info at any time!
We have already seen in the visualization that it makes sense to write down the necessary steps for the implementation of a habit. Another reason for this is the ability to anticipate the new routine with anticipation in the process. When we look forward in advance to the workout, the preparation, and the time afterwards, our bodies release dopamine. Dopamine is a happiness hormone and is perceived by the brain as a reward - so it ensures that our motivation increases and is optimized for the habit.
In addition, we can reward ourselves with something at irregular intervals after performing the good habit, such as our favorite food or those new training shoes we've been flirting with for months.
In this way, we again use the properties of our physiology to our advantage, stimulating the motivational dopamine release. The irregularity of the reward is particularly important here, however, because if we reward ourselves too often, the reward itself becomes a habit and loses the desired effect.
Now we have some tools and knowledge for habit formation at hand that will help us. Now we can act!
But how do we start? To integrate more fitness into everyday life, I recommend Tabia fit!
Tabia fit helps us take the first steps as easily as possible. All we have to do is open the app, press "start" and go straight through an easy workout program with step-by-step instructions.
Due to the simplicity of the application, we quickly overcome our inner badass.
Tabia fit uses scientifically validated methods to support us not only in overcoming inner hurdles, but also in the long-term integration of our new habit.
Because, when training with Tabia fit, it stays exciting:
Many people give up on their new behavior before it becomes a habit because it is simply boring. The lack of motivation to do boring things feeds our inner pig and makes it stronger.
In Tabia fit, gamification, variable rewards and a daily changing training program help to build the new habit in a playful and motivating way.
In addition, an important feature is:
At Tabia fit, we stop when it's at its best. The workouts end at the peak of motivation and performance. This way, the app prevents your new habit from being associated with negative feelings.
You can download and try Tabia fit on all Apple and Android devices starting 08/14/2022.
Have fun trying it out and training your new habits!
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave us a comment! And let me know if my tips have helped you establish new, healthy habits! Sources:
1. Fritz, H., Hu, Y.-L., Gahman, K., Almacen, C., and Ottolini, J. (2020). Intervention to modify habits: a scoping review. OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health 40, 99-112.
2. Wood, W., and Rünger, D. (2016). Psychology of habit. Annual review of psychology 67, 289-314.