Something to Think About This Holiday Season

It seems like Halloween kicks off the holiday season and the emotional eating that goes along with it. For the next two months, staying on track with eating and exercise goals can feel like an uphill battle. So many people tend to put self-care away until January. There are a couple of reasons this can cause problems:

  • It can take only 3 days to form an undesirable habit. Lets say you have started seeking out a candy treat around 3 pm (I don’t have you under surveillance. This is just a pretty common affliction!). You get a hit of dopamine that wires your brain to want to do that every afternoon around the same time. As a side note, between not getting enough sleep and not getting sustainable nutrition prior to the dreaded afternoon crash, it sets our body up to lose steam. This link gives some good tips for what to do instead of reaching for sugar to get a boost.
  • It can take about 66 days to change your habits. This is really discouraging, right?! It takes only 3 days to make the habit, but 66 days to change it!! Every time we engage in a rewarding behavior (something that releases Dopamine in our brain), we create wiring that changes our brain. Each time we go back to the behavior, the wiring gets reinforced. that is why it is so hard to break habits. Especially when they have been hard wired for years.

The bottom line is that it can help to start thinking about this now. Look at your patterns and start to play the tape through by recognizing what will happen if you do something. Don’t get me wrong. A treat is totally ok. If the treat starts happening in a similar way day after day, that becomes a habit. If it isn’t a habit you want to keep, it will be so much easier not to form it in the first place!

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Weber State University and a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Utah. She has been working in the mental health field since 2001.

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