Creating Habits vs Autism – Matthew Brown

Hi everyone,

I hope you’re doing great!

Do you struggle to form habits? Do you try to stick to a routine, and then falter after a few weeks? I feel exactly the same. In this blog, I’ll discuss about the psychology behind forming habits, my difficulties with habit-forming, and how I’m trying to combat those difficulties.

Hello & Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

Today I’d like to talk about something that is very difficult for me, which is creating positive life habits. There is a difference between a routine and a habit. As Anne-Laure Le Cunff says in their blog, the main difference between a routine and a habit is ‘how aware and intentional you are’ – i.e., how consciously you do something.

The blog also outlines how you can turn a routine into a habit. In the blog, Anne-Laure cites the concept of the ‘habit loop’, which can be split into three parts:

  • Cue: choose a trigger to tell your brain to start the routine you want to turn into a habit.
  • Routine: execute the routine, ideally starting with a small, actionable chunk. Don’t go for an overly ambitious new routine from the get-go.
  • Reward: do something enjoyable, which will tell your brain that this particular habit loop is worth remembering for the future.

A way to make the cue-to-routine step easier is to link a new habit to an existing one. For example, you could brush your teeth, and then do ten minutes of exercise.

However, I find it very hard to form a habit this way. And judging from what I’ve seen online from similar people to me, I’m not alone. This may be linked to autism, among other things. It takes me a lot of energy to perform tasks that other people can do easily and without thought, such as brushing your teeth or taking a shower. I find that I am also quite susceptible to scrolling social media (e.g., the Tiktok ‘For You Page’), which further prevents me from performing basic life tasks.

In today’s blog, I’m going to offer some suggestions that have helped me to form habits. The first of these is to have a structured to-do list detailing the tasks that I need to do and which of them is the most important. My favourite app at the moment is called Todoist – it has a nice layout!

I understand that to-do lists are frequently recommended for people who have ADHD, and they tend not to work. With this in mind, I also try to build habits through the use of social accountability. This involves talking about what you want to do in a social setting/on the internet and using the fact that people can see it to spur you on to achieve your goal. I have utilised this for my fitness goal; I have created a Twitter account solely to document my fitness journey and ‘hold myself accountable’. It seems to be working so far, which I’m happy with!

My final suggestion is to not be too hard on yourself if you stray from your goals. I have definitely been overly harsh on myself in the past, and it’s gotten me nowhere. Since I’ve decided to be kinder to myself, I’ve seen some real improvements!

Thanks for reading this post today! What habits are you looking to make, and how are you going to go about doing that?

Be sure to let me know your thoughts & answers to the above questions, either in the comments below or through our Facebook page!

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Matthew 😊

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