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Happy New Year! The start of 2020 is an opportunity to reflect on the past and to look forward with optimism to the ways we can improve our lives. Yet, how many of us have made New Year’s resolutions that proved too difficult to keep. The most common resolutions have to do with health, so let’s take a look at some of the common items on the checklist: diet, exercise, and breaking addiction. Each of these dimensions of a healthy life has to do with deeply engrained patterns of behavior, and they can be difficult to transform.
Habits and Willpower
Each year countless people set lofty goals to transform their lives overnight, relying on sheer willpower to change bad habits and to develop new good ones. However, the science of lifestyle change tells us that will power is only one piece of the puzzle, and it might be a smaller piece than we formerly thought. Megan Oaten and Ken Cheng at Macquarie University in Australia conducted a number of studies regarding willpower and the power of habits. It turns out that, although some participants were able to marshal willpower to their aid when transforming their lives, habits had a long lasting effect on developing behaviors such as exercise, eating healthy foods, and breaking addiction to harmful substances.
The trouble with this approach to life change is that habits are not formed overnight. When the clock turns from 11:59 PM in 2019 to 12:00 AM in 2020, we do not arrive with new habits in place, and we tend to toss our ambitions in the lap of sheer willpower. This year, give yourself ample time to transform a dimension of your life by developing habits.
Perhaps during the winter months of January and February, you can work on habit formation rather than going “cold turkey” on the first day of the year. How can your form a new habit, you ask? Research has shown some effective tools in the process of habit formation, and one of the most powerful is to link a new habit to an old one. Perhaps you take a lunch break everyday at work. If you want to incorporate more exercise into your life, you can take a brief walk every day at the end of lunch. In that time when you might have otherwise caught up on entertainment news on your phone, why not take a lap around the building?
Another approach in habit formation is to remove the barriers to the new activity. For instance, if you often find that you don’t want to stop at the gym on the way home from work, you can put on your workout clothes in the office. When you would normally wash out your coffee cup or punch your time code, put on your athletic shoes and comfortable clothes. You might find it easier to re-route to the gym with the barriers out of the way.
Hearing: A Healthy Resolution
In addition to these New Year’s resolutions that have to do with habit formation, why not consider a resolution that doesn’t require willpower or a new habit at all? Getting a hearing exam is a simple and effective step in the direction of better health and overall wellbeing. Unlike summoning willpower to avoid junk food or to get to the gym when you are tired, scheduling a hearing exam is a one-time action with long-lasting effects. The exam itself is easy, brief, and painless, and your hearing health professional will be able to assist you in navigating the many options for assistance that are on the market. When you think back to the holidays, perhaps you can recall an event or gathering where conversation was difficult. By taking a step toward hearing assistance, you can make sure that next year’s holiday gatherings are full of freely flowing conversation and connections with your loved ones.
South Shore Hearing Center
Don’t hesitate to make your appointment at South Shore Hearing Center. You can think of scheduling your hearing exam as a New Year’s resolution—one that you can check off the list and know that you have already accomplished an important goal in the first weeks of the year!