How to Start Good Habits and Keep them long Term!

Published on July 16, 2018 by Dr. Joe Jankowski

     I was thinking about what subject to write about for the Lakeland HIlls Dental blog and I was wondering what can I do to get people to start good habits like flossing.  I did an online review of multiple articles and found some common themes among what others have written.

     Most people have all kinds of excuses not to floss.  Remember only 8% of the adult population floss on a regular basis.  I have heard several jokes on the subject, especially on social media like "Doc, you remember the last time I flossed, it was 6 months ago and you did it!".

     The first thing to remember is to start small.  You don't start out January 1st  planning on hitting the gym four times a week with a new diet and expect to be successful. It takes a tremendous amount of willpower and willpower is a lot like a muscle.  If you use it a lot it will get tired and you will quit.  Start small by maybe just go for a walk on a regular basis and add a vegetable to your noon meal. When flossing try say to yourself "I will floss just one tooth."  Before you know it you will automatically floss all of them.

     Next try to create a chain that you won't want to break and have clear intentions of when and where you want to perform the habit. I have developed the habit of eating a salad every day before I eat my lunch.  Most people brush their teeth before bed and link the flossing to same time you brush.  This is called habit stacking.  A calender may be necessary or program a reminder into your phone.  Before you know it you won't want to break the chain and its linked to something you already do every day.

     Another crucial thing is design your surroundings to make it conducive to perform the good habit.  Ever walk by the break room at work and see a tray of brownies out and before the end of the day you ate three of them!  Pack your gym clothes the night before.  I make my salads a week ahead of time so I don't have to worry about making them when its time to eat.   Putting the floss with the toothbrush and toothpaste in the medicine cabinet or bathroom drawer together is always a good idea.

   One thing that I consider to be very important is surround yourself with supportive people.  Don't hang out with smokers if your trying to quit smoking enough said.  Try to incorporate the support of family members or your spouse with what you want to accomplish.  You can tell them what you are trying to do and they can help remind you.  They might even join you.  Hope this helps someone start and maintain a good habit such as flossing.  Your welcome to ask me more questions next time I see you so have a great summer and start flossing!