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Develop a Perfect Posture Habit in 3 Steps

Develop a Perfect Posture Habit in 3 Steps

Developing a perfect posture habit leads to greater confidence, health, and attractiveness. But how do you develop that habit? What is a habit?

According to Charles Duhigg in his book, The Power of Habit, a habit is defined by a Cue, Routine, and Reward. The cue is what sparks the habit, the routine is the action you go through, and the reward is what you go through the routine in pursuit of.

How Do You Develop Habits?

Here’s an example: say you have a habit of sleeping in every day. The cue in this case is probably your alarm clock going off. The routine you go through is hitting snooze and getting back in bed. And the reward is the cozy warmth under the covers that you can only experience right after waking up.

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That would probably be considered a bad habit, but the same methodology can be used to understand good habits. Imagine exercising: your cue could be leaving your clothes out the night before and seeing them when you wake up. The routine is going for a run or to the gym. And the reward is the feeling of satisfaction and fatigue that comes with a good workout.

Going back to the sleeping-in habit, what do you do to change it? You usually have two options: find a new cue that you can react differently to, or find a new routine for the same cue that gives a similar reward. The first works sometimes, but the second is much more effective and easier to adopt.

In the sleeping-in case, you’d need to find a new routine that can be a response to the alarm going off and that still provides cozy warmth. Some options could be getting in a hot shower, or having a hot cup of coffee or tea. It’s not exactly the same, but it will usually suffice.

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Good posture is tricky though…it doesn’t have the obvious cue-routine-reward relationship that sleeping in does. Bad posture is simply something we do all of the time. So, how do we fix it?

Let’s Build a Good Posture Habit

When there’s no clear, existing cue-routine-reward relationship we have to create one from scratch. It’s difficult, but it can be done. It requires identifying the routine we want, then finding a reward that can make it worth doing, then finding a cue to start the whole thing going. So let’s get started.

1. Find the Routine

This is pretty easy. You want good posture, so the routine is fixing your posture. That means pulling your shoulders back, making sure your head is up, making sure your lower back isn’t arched, and then keeping it all in place for long than a second or two. It can help to look in a mirror while you do this a few times to learn how good postures feels.

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2. Find the Reward

This is where it starts to get tricky. I’m going to assume that you don’t want to carry a bag of Oreos around and give yourself a cookie every time you fix your posture–that would just lead to a new bad habit. So how do we reward ourselves for good posture? I see a few options:

  • Similar to exercising, it actually feels really good to stand up straight.
  • There’s the mental benefit of knowing you’re looking more confident and attractive.
  • Keep a checklist going of how many times you’ve fixed your posture, and try to beat your record each day.

But ultimately you’ll need to find what works best for you. So long as it’s motivating and keeps you doing it.

3. Now Find the Cue

This will be the hardest part. There’s no clear cue for posture since, ideally, it’s something you’re doing all of the time. Getting out of bed has a clear cue, not having dessert has a clear cue, but posture? That’s tricky.

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In order to solve this, we’ll need to make up our own cues to spark the perfect posture habit. We can do this two ways: through event associations or through environmental associations.

To base your habit on an event, simply pick something that’s going to happen frequently that you can peg the good habit to. In this case, you might pick:

  • When you sit down, check your posture.
  • When you’re standing in line waiting for something, check your posture.
  • When you get up to get a coffee or tea, check your posture.
  • Walk to the bathroom and back with perfect posture.
  • When you check your email, check your posture.
  • Set an alarm to ping you every 15, 20, or 30 minutes to remind you to check your posture.

You can also pick an environmental cue that you peg the habit to, such as:

  • Become sensitive to other people’s posture; when you see someone slouching, correct your own.
  • Take a moment to recognize what it feels like when you slouch, become sensitive to that feeling and correct it throughout the day.
  • Keep checking that you’re sitting back in your chair and not slouching.

Of these I think the event association is best. It’s easiest to remember, and you’ll constantly be cued to check your posture. Pick a few of the event cues, write them down, remind yourself of them every morning, and as you keep correcting yourself you’ll find you need to remember to do it less and less. You’ll quickly develop a habit of perfect posture.

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Nat Eliason

Writer and Host of Nat Chat

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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