We’re all creatures of habit. We wake up at the same time each day, brush our teeth, have breakfast and go to work, following the same patterns every day. So why is it so hard to form new healthy habits? According to behavioral scientists, many of us try to create healthy habits the wrong way. We make bold resolutions without taking the steps needed to set ourselves up for success.

Start small and do it every day. Habits take a long time to create, but they form faster when we do them more often. For example, taking a daily brisk walk or doing squats for 5-10 minutes could be the beginning of an exercise habit. You are more likely to stick with this habit if you do some small exercise every day, rather than trying to get to the gym three times a week. Once the daily exercise becomes a habit, you can explore new, more intense forms of exercise.

Now that you know how to build new healthy habits, we suggest you trying the Well Challenge! Every week we'll post a new challenge for you to help you better your life.  Join us, it's gonna be fun!

1. Connect: Phone-Free Lunch
Your challenge today is to have lunch with a friend — but not your phone! Invite a friend or colleague to lunch and leave your phone (and other devices) behind or have a meal with your child or parent without the screens. This challenge may be tough at first, but try it a few times this week. You may be amazed at how much more you connect when you aren’t distracted by your phone.

Why Am I Doing This?
We love our cellphones, but sometimes it’s a good idea to take a break from them. Incoming texts, alerts and vibrations are a near-constant presence in our lives, and these interruptions can take a toll on our minds, our sleep and our ability to connect in real life. Studies show that when parents or caregivers take a phone to the table, they are far less likely to engage in conversation with their kids. We also know that breaking our tech connections from time to time can foster deeper personal connections in real life. In one study, pre-teens who went five days at camp without screens outperformed their peers in recognizing nonverbal emotional cues. In other research, the presence of a cellphone in the room made people feel less connected to conversation partners.

2. Nourish: Have a Savory Breakfast
For this week’s challenge, we want you to take the sweetness out of your morning meal. Your goal every day of this week is to cut all the sugar and eat a savory breakfast. A no-sugar morning might sound tough if you’ve grown accustomed to eating cereals, granola bars, muffins, pastries and sweet fruit yogurts. Instead, we want you to go for high-protein or plant-based breakfast foods. Some ideas:
- Eggs (scrambled, fried or boiled — or a frittata with vegetables);
- Berries and a handful of nuts;
- Lettuce boat with mashed avocado, bacon and tomato.

When you decide to cut sugar from breakfast, your morning meal will be more creative and more delicious.

Why Am I Doing This?
For many people, breakfast has become the sweetest meal of the day – so sweet that it’s become the equivalent of dessert. So when you switch to a savory, no-added sugar breakfast, you make a big dent in your overall sugar intake. Many scientists now believe that added sugar is a main culprit in the obesity epidemic, but normal-weight people can suffer the same health problems associated with too much sugar. A 15-year study found that eating high amounts of added sugar doubles the risk of heart disease, even for people who aren’t overweight. Added sugar has also been implicated in an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes, cancer, stroke and even Alzheimer’s disease.

3. Refresh: Take a Self-Compassion Break
Today, take time out for a self-compassion break. Close your eyes and think of a situation causing you stress. Take a mindful moment and acknowledge your suffering, telling yourself, “This is stressful. This is difficult.” Remind yourself that everyone struggles. “Stress is part of life. I’m not alone.” Now soothe yourself by placing your hands on your heart or stomach, or wrap your arms around your body. Now give yourself words of kindness. “May I be kind to myself. May I forgive myself. May I be strong. May I accept myself as I am.”

Why Am I Doing This?
Self-compassion is rooted in centuries of Buddhist tradition, but it’s been only within the past decade that researchers have subjected the concept to empirical scrutiny. Numerous studies have shown that self-compassion is strongly linked to overall well-being. Practicing self-compassion can reduce depression, stress, performance anxiety and body dissatisfaction. It can lead to increases in happiness, self-confidence and even immune function.

The material is based on the article 'How to Build Healthy Habits' written by