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Forming Habits: How Long Does It Take?

Our lives are built around our daily habits. From small maintenance habits like waking up on time and brushing your teeth to more significant habits...

Forming Habits: How Long Does It Take?

By NuFACE Digital

Our lives are built around our daily habits. From small maintenance habits like waking up on time and brushing your teeth to more significant habits like your exercise routine or alcohol consumption - small habits can play a big role in your health, happiness, and success. 

Everything we do can be boiled down to a list of habits that string together and form the patchwork of our lives. If we’re already so habit-driven, why does it seem like new habits are so hard? Even achieving simple goals that would make a big difference - like drinking water or saving money - can be challenging to stay consistent with.

Thankfully, there’s science behind the how and why of habit forming, and one of the most significant predictors of whether or not you’ll be successful with a new habit is how long you practice it. Let’s explore how long it takes to form a habit, and what you can do to create new habits that stick!

What Is the Science Behind Forming Habits?

You’re always creating habits, whether you’re aware of it or not! Specific criteria are essential to forming habits and new behavior changes: cue, craving, response, and reward.

Cue

Before you establish any kind of habit, there is usually a cue. A cue tells us that something is needed, and the necessary thing will reward us by satisfying the need. Hunger and thirst, for example, are primal cues that tell us we need to eat or drink.

One common cue we use to form a habit is a morning alarm, which acts as a cue to help you wake up at the same time each morning. Other cues could be visual - like storing your supplements near your keys so you see and remember to take them before leaving the house in the morning.

When creating a cue for your desired habit, consider tapping into the senses of sight and sound. This could range from setting a reminder on your phone to alert you with a ‘ding’ when it’s time to perform the task or writing it in your calendar for the day.

Craving 

When you experience a cue, you naturally crave a reward. The process of obtaining the reward isn’t necessarily what you crave but the reward itself. To go back to the example of hunger, you don’t crave the process of cooking a meal but the reward of eating the food.

Many people state that they enjoy working out for the mental health benefits and clarity they feel after the workout rather than the workout itself. This is an excellent example of a ‘craving.’ 

Response

People who are successful with the habit formation process typically focus their time on this portion of the process. The response to a cue and cravings is the action required to get the reward. So, with hunger, the answer is to cook a meal. 

A response can be complicated because this is where the actual daily habit will occur. The response will quickly fall apart if the reward doesn’t fulfill the cues and the craving's expectations. If it does, the habit will become almost second nature.

Remember the ‘response’ when creating habits or how you will accomplish your task. This is essentially choosing your method to achieve the habit. For example, you want to workout each day. Your cue is setting time on your calendar at 8 o’clock each morning, and your craving is knowing that you will feel fantastic after a good workout. When you decide on how to exercise - whether it’s a run, pilates class, or weight lifting - this is the response. 

Reward

The goal of creating a positive habit is a satisfying reward that both satiates the cue and lives up to the expectation of the craving. Once you feel hungry, crave food, and prepare a meal, the reward should be that eating the meal fills you up and tastes good. 

Consider, however, that the meal you cooked tastes bad. Maybe you don’t even eat it. That can lead to negative consequences, and perhaps the next time you experience a hunger cue, you’ll consider getting takeout instead.

How Long Does the Process Take?

Conventional wisdom suggests that it takes about 21 days to form a new habit. However, recent research suggests that creating habits may be more complicated than meets the eye. In fact, developing a habit can vary dramatically from person to person, depending on personality type, complexity of habit, and motivation.

The timeline for building habits can actually be quite flexible. But most prominent research suggests that it can take between 59 and 254 days to create a daily habit, with an average of 66 days.

While you could take an average here, it’s essential to realize that some habits are more accessible to form because they offer a bigger reward or specifically trigger a dopamine release, making the response portion of habit forming easier. Although beneficial, drinking a glass of water won’t give you the same immediate reward as eating a candy bar! This is why building positive habits is often more challenging, and it is easier to slip into negative ones. 

In a nutshell, don’t give up if a habit doesn’t stick after just a few weeks, and consider increasing the rewards to expedite the habit-forming process. 

How To Start Skincare Habits

One of the most common habits people want to change is skincare routines. Skincare routines can significantly impact your skin health and appearance and create much-needed time for mindfulness and self-care.

Want to learn how to change your skincare routine? Start with small changes that can easily be added to something you already do during a specific time of day. For instance, if you already have a simple habit of washing your face in the morning, you can add an extra product, step, or treatment after cleansing. This is called “habit stacking,” and it can be a great way to help a new habit stick. 

If you want to ensure you’re using your TRINITY+ Complete Set daily to get the microcurrent benefits that target your skin and its underlying structures, there are two ways to help you stay consistent. 

  1. Stack the habit. If your old habit is washing your face and applying moisturizer, add your microcurrent treatment to this part of your skin wellness routine. If you attach this new habit to an old, like-kind habit, you’ll be more likely to remember to use your NuFACE Device. Consider keeping your device on your bathroom vanity, where you usually cleanse and apply skincare products, giving you the visual cue to treat your device.
  2. Download the NuFACE Smart App. The NuFACE app gives you exclusive access to tips and techniques to help you use your device more efficiently. It also offers helpful treatment reminder options and a Selfie Tracker tool to see your results visibly, which will help you stay motivated and create consistent habits.

New Year, New Routine

You don’t need to wait until January 1st to create new habits to improve your life dramatically. With the right tools and motivation, you can quickly adopt a new routine whenever possible. This year, kick bad habits and replace them with ones you want in your life. Starting with the NuFACE Smart App is a great way to build better skincare habits and ensure you never miss a lift. 

Sources:

How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world - Lally - 2010 - European Journal of Social Psychology | Wiley Online Library

Habit formation following routine‐based versus time‐based cue planning: A randomized controlled trial - Keller - 2021 | British Journal of Health Psychology

Habit Formation: The 21 Day Myth | Forbes.com

Physiological effects of microcurrent and its application for maximizing acute responses and chronic adaptations to exercise | NCBI

Habit formation | PMC

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