Habits & Mental Health: The Importance of Building Resilience

Updated: Oct 9, 2021

When we think of habits we often think of big activities like someone jumping in a cold shower every morning at 5am. However, most habits are far smaller and simpler, and we do them thousands of times per day, often without even knowing it.

Many of our habits happen without us even thinking about them. For example, we wake up in the morning, we turn off the alarm, we make coffee, we take a shower (at a reasonable temperature), and we brush our teeth. We've done these so many times day after day, that we can literally do them without thinking about them. We're basically on autopilot.

Habits themselves can be positive or negative. Positive habits help move us toward what we want in our day and in our lives. Conversely, negative habits can effectively sabotage our days and our goals in life. Bringing awareness to our habits is an important first step toward making change.

How Habits Get Formed

Habits are basically mental shortcuts that our brains create to solve everyday needs. At some point in our lives we had a need and we tried different solutions. One of those solutions gave us satisfaction in some way, so we started repeating it. Each time this solution satisfied our need, we made a deeper connection in our brain between the need and the solution. Over and over and over, we keep repeating it, without even thinking about it. Our brain creates a literal neural pathway that fires every time we have that need. The need causes us to try the same solution now wired in a neural pathway... out of habit. Our conscious mind likely isn't even aware of it.