They say it takes about 21 days to form a simple habit. A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that depending on the habit, the person, and the circumstances, it takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days — 66 on average — to form a new habit.
Even if it takes more work or a longer amount of time to make a behavior automatic, some habits are worth forming. Some habits help you stay safe, others keep you healthy, and some are worth the effort because they improve your quality of life. Everyday stresses and worries can wear you down and take some of the joy out of your daily life. To enhance your well-being and live a more meaningful life, consider adopting some of these habits (if you haven’t already):
Pay Your Debts Every Month
Money is the top source of stress for 61 percent of Americans, according to the American Psychological Association. Millennials especially face a grim picture with their everyday finances. Record amounts of debt make sticking to a budget, meeting increased costs of living, and saving for the future difficult.
While paying for the necessities can take up most or all of a paycheck, be sure to contribute toward paying off all your debts every month. You can split up payments to relieve the burden: pay off your credit card early in the month and make payments on your student loans in the middle or at the end of each month. Consider setting up auto-payments if you have trouble remembering.
Even paying just a little bit or the minimum balance can help reduce any large balances. Not only will it improve your finances, regular debt payments will help put your mind at ease and hopefully reduce your stress about money. When you aren’t worried about finances, you can put your energy toward other things and spend more time enjoying your life.
Go to Sleep Earlier
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in three Americans don’t get enough sleep on a nightly basis. Between work, family, and other obligations, sleep is often the first thing to fall by the wayside. However, on top of being cranky and tired, sleep deprivation can lead to health complications, like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Do your best to develop a healthy sleep schedule to get that full eight hours before you have to wake up the next day. Prepare as much as possible for the next day: pack your lunch, choose your outfit, and get the coffee pot ready. Set an alarm for an hour before bedtime so you can begin getting ready. If you have a tough time calming down and unwinding after a long day, create a pre-sleep routine. Do something that helps you relax, like meditation, yoga, reading, or listen to calming music.
Whatever you choose to do, be consistent! By establishing a steady routine, your body and mind will begin to associate it with sleep, and you’ll be able to drift off with ease. You may feel like you’re taking away precious time from your day, but this is an investment worth making in yourself. If you regularly get better sleep, you’ll likely feel more energized and productive than ever before.
Use Your Phone Less
A recent study found that Americans look at their phones 80 times per day — about once every 12 minutes. The amount of time that people use mobile devices has been on the rise, which can contribute to health problems like sleep disturbances or deprivation, strained vision, and headaches. Rutgers University also notes that social media use, in particular, can contribute to mental illness by causing or exacerbating feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, and depression.
Whether or not you’re a social media addict, you can probably cut back on the amount of time you spend using your phone. Using your phone can affect everything from your communication skills to your driving. Nomophobia is the fear of being without a mobile device, and it may still plague you if your phone dies or you leave it behind.
Work to become less dependent on your devices and spend your time doing other things. If you have some time to kill while waiting at your doctor’s appointment, flip through a magazine or read a few pages of a book instead of checking your Twitter feed. In group settings, make an effort to leave your phone in your pocket and give your full attention to the other people there. Focusing your energy on things outside of the digital world will help your life feel fuller and freer.
There are many habits you can take on to improve your quality of life, so pick one that will truly make your life better. Try to do something that really speaks to you; if you aren’t passionate about forming a new behavior, it will be even harder to stick to it. Set yourself up for success, take it slow, and you’ll truly bring out your best self.
Madison Ann Baker is a writer, Netflix-binger, and pop culture enthusiast who lives in Idaho. Literature and linguistics are her two passions, both of which she studied in college. In her free time, she enjoys hiking with her Borador, Dash, and re-reading Harry Potter. You can follow her on Twitter @mabakerwrites and check out her work on https://mabakerwrites.contently.com/