Being in recovery means developing new patterns of behavior, ones that are healthier and lend more towards one’s well-being. New habits might include thinking more positively, exercising more, eating more nutritious foods, and reaching out to a support group more often. These changes take some time, and in recovery we may feel inpatient some days. Instant gratification may take over and we may question when we will be at the right place in our recovery. The good news is, wherever we are at in recovery is exactly where we need to be if we are doing the best we can. Habits take some time to develop, and perhaps looking further into this can help us prepare for what we need to do.
No matter whether you are striving to develop healthier patterns of behavior from a mental disorder or an addiction, habits take time. Many have said that it takes 21 days to form a habit; the old saying from doctors in the 1950’s was that it would take “a minimum of 21 days” for results or new perceptions to stick – but as the years continued, people began taking out the term “minimum” and simply sticking with the 21 days. How long does it take then?
Previous research states that it takes approximately 66 days to form a new habit. A study conducted by researchers from University College London in 2009 recruited 96 participants who were interested in developing a new habit such as exercising or eating more nutritiously each day. Participants during the study were asked how “automatic” their actions felt over a span of time and if they felt that their new behavior was “hard to do” or could be accomplished “without thinking”. After analyzing the data, the researchers found that participants plateaued in automaticity after 66 days.
The researchers also found that missing a single day did not have an impact on the development of a new habit for participants, and that some habits took much longer to form than others. Some individuals may be more habit-resistant, but what’s most important is that the person continuously strives to engage their new behavior every day. If you are in recovery and are ready to adopt new habits of thinking and behaving, the first step is to begin today. Take it a day at a time, and keep your focus on what you want to accomplish.
If you are seeking a mental health and addiction recovery treatment center, call us today at 888-316-3665. New Vista Behavioral Health is home to several world-renowned treatment centers with professionals who truly care about your success. We will work with you to construct an individualized plan that will best suit your needs and restore your mind, body, and spirit. Call us for a consultation.