Are you operating on an arbitrary set of rules? Laundry grows, lectures stack, last ate a vegetable a week ago? Is it all too much? In this blog, Christine talks about how bad habits can be challenging to shift but reflects on what it means for our well-being to set realistic goals. 
– Christine Jenkins

It may all seem well and great, being on your own: exploring your limits and finally being able to stay up past your bedtime on a school night. But these freedoms aren’t always as helpful as they seem fun and accumulating too many bad habits can have surprising consequences.
I have had too many readings pile up, too many dishes to do, too many takeaway pizzas, too many late nights (or more like early mornings!), and ‘too many’ too much. Recognizing that this version of yourself is not serving you is the first step in the right direction. 
But how do you start? 
You’re stuck in that old system version where you leave your clothes to pile up in the basket or you go the week without doing a single workout. Making new habits is hard, and breaking old habits is even harder.  
Well, to start off, your good days are not always going to look the same. What your 100% looks like today, will probably look different tomorrow; but the point of keeping good habits is that they make your bad days a little more bearable. Good habits make time an ally for you; they serve to protect you in the future. 
The best advice I have ever received was to start setting some non-negotiables. Every day you study for an hour, eat a vegetable, or throw one load of laundry. Once you set your non-negotiables, there’s no arguing with it. You create a system, which in turn becomes your safety net; not only this, but probable behaviours will reinforce less probable behaviours. In other words, because you ate one vegetable, you might as well eat another. You finished your food and are heading to the sink anyways, so you might as well do that dirty dish in your hand. Already doing that dirty dish, might as well do the rest of the dishes. You have then created that habit of doing the dishes after you’ve eaten and you never have to deal with an overflowing sink and you’ll always have that mug ready for your next cup of tea. 
The reward? You’re a responsible person that does your dishes. This mindset shift will serve you in the long run, this quick hit of satisfaction will make change enjoyable. Letting go of unhealthy habits will protect you from the corrosive effects of staying stuck in a system that won’t help you achieve that version of yourself that you want. Because you studied for an hour, you might feel inclined to keep going. 
Again, your 100% looks different every day, so because you can do three hours of studying today, doesn’t mean you have to do the same tomorrow. Go back to doing one hour of studying.  All this to say, take of yourself on your bad days, when you’re not the best version of yourself. Some good habits are easier to follow than others. Sometimes just washing one dish is enough, sometimes you stay up till the sun rises again, and sometimes getting out of bed is the triumph. These days you have to be extra kind to yourself, but your good habits will make room for you to mess up.
Explore tips and resources to help you navigate university life in Student Minds’ Transitions guide.
Christine Jenkins is an Undergraduate Psychology student at Cardiff University and is looking to promote healthy habits, awareness, and well-being with others. She spends her spare time reading books, attending the Book Club Society and managing the Pen Pal scheme. 

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