Harness the power of habit
The truth is you are probably not drinking enough water but how do you increase your daily water intake? It may seem like a daunting task to gulp down 64-80 oz of water every day. This is where the science of habits and behavior change can help us out.
The science of habit forming is absolutely fascinating. I highly recommend “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg as a place to start. It’s a great book with lots of actionable tips and hacks for improving habits because it talks about all the science behind the way our habits form naturally. And more importantly why they form that way.
“This is the real power of habit: the insight that your habits are what you choose them to be.”
In other words, we are not powerless against our habits. We have the ability to change them but the first step is to recognize them. Recognize them as auto-pilot moments and then take it a step further and realize what the cue is that sets us off into auto-pilot. What reward is that habit giving us? Understanding this framework is the key to begin change.
“This process within our brains is a three-step loop. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future: THE HABIT LOOP.”
Recognize your cues
You wake up in the morning, tired and groggy. That’s the cue. Your brain goes into habit form and you reach first thing for a cup of coffee. The reward is a nice hit of caffeine that wakes you you. It also pulls water out of you and adds to the overnight water deficit. Once you are aware of the loop you are in, you can begin to move out of it.
So, let’s look at our tracker again. Rather than just jumping in and attempting to increase water intake, let’s see where we are first. After a few days of just noticing and marking how much we drink, let’s also mark the time when we drink. If you find that you don’t drink any water until noon, then you know, you need to find a way to fit water into the morning. It will be easier to add a cup or two between the hours of 8-12 than stuffing 4 more cups into 6-9pm. It also lets us see how our average schedule affects our wellbeing, helping us to identify the stress points that we need to change.
Being aware of our habits is the first step to changing them. So after tracking how much and when we normally drink water, we can now add a cup or two more each day as we need to until we reach the ideal amount listed in the table.
Next: Key ways to add more water to the day.