What is a habit?

Within psychology, ‘habits’ are defined as actions that are triggered automatically in response to contextual cues that have been associated with their performance.
For example, putting on a seatbelt (action) after getting into a car (contextual cue).


Keep it simple! Simpler actions become habitual more quickly.


Small behaviour change achievements can stimulate the pursuit of further changes. Forming one ‘small’ healthy habit may be linked to increased self-confidence which increases the likelihood of working towards other health-promoting habits.
British Journal of General Practice

Examples of health promoting behaviours

  • Walk for 15 minutes on my lunch break
  • Select water over caffeinated drinks 1-2 afternoon breaks per week
  • Plan one walking meeting a week with colleagues
  • Write in a journal to practice gratitude for 10 minutes daily at breakfast
  • Schedule 2 alcohol-free social outings each month with friends
  • Dedicate 5 minutes during your commute to practice deep breathing
  • Use positive affirmations to counteract negative self talk daily when brushing your teeth
  • Use habit stacking (e.g. walking when you take a phone call or having a full glass of water after brushing your teeth) as a way to stick to new habits. 

Setting up for success

Components for successful behaviour changes include self reflection in combination with SMART goal setting

1. Self reflection

  • Ask yourself, on a scale of 1-10, how important is it to you to make the change at this time?
  • Ask yourself, on a scale of 1-10, how confident you are that you can make the change at this time?
  • How might your desired future behaviour positively impact your future?

2. SMART goals

SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound) goals provide a structure to track progress and make adjustments as needed. Rather than setting a general goal to “be more active” we are more likely to see progress if we reframe this to a SMART goal “walk for 15 minutes three days a week at lunch”.

SMART goals

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Bound