This week we’re talking about habits. Not in a Sister Act way. Habits like brushing your teeth, or looking left and right before you cross the road. i.e. learned habits.
Recently we unveiled our brand new large pack formats (click here if you missed it). A big part of why we made a bigger pack was so it would be easier for you to make Peppersmith part of your daily oral health routine. Making Peppersmith as much of a habit as washing your hands after going to the loo, or sleeping on the left side of the bed means you’ll get the regular amount of xylitol you need to look after your teeth during the day – when they need it most.
But, as the saying goes, “old habits die hard” and we understand it can be hard to form new habits, and even harder to break old ones.
Luckily, a lot of scientists and researchers who know far more about these things than we do have put in some serious time and research into working out what makes it easier to form habits. And stick to them.
Make sure it’s easy – convenience is key. You’re much more likely to stick with something if it doesn’t cause you a load of hassle. And the good news is our packs are designed with convenience in mind – ideal for handbags, pockets, desks, cars – basically anywhere you’re on the go.
Keep it small – big challenges are great but small changes are more sustainable and manageable. Committing to making small, incremental improvements can create a “snowball effect” which then helps you make further changes if you want to.
Repeat, repeat, repeat – it might seem boring, but the best way to make something a habit is repetition. You hear this with world class athletes all the time. Repeat, repeat, repeat until you no longer have to think about what you’re doing and just rely on instinct. It’s the same for habits – forming them is a process not a one off. And when it comes to our mints and gum, you only get the dental benefits through using them repeatedly. So just keep on using them.
21 is not the magic number – well, unless you’re on the Blackjack table. A few years back there was a consensus that 21 days was the optimum amount of time to form a habit. Nowadays scientists think it could be more like 66 days. But the good news is, once a habit is formed it’s very difficult to then break it.
Curiosity didn’t kill the cat – it’s good to think about why you’re doing something. Thinking about why the habit you want to form will be a good choice helps drive you on. You can also turn negative triggers into positive ones. If you previously tucked into some crisps every time you watched Peaky Blinders, you could start nibbling on crudités. Over time the theme tune will have you reaching for the carrot batons.
It’s all about chain reactions – strong habits are often sequential. If something is part of a routine then it’s easier to make it happen. Wash your face, brush your teeth, turn the lights off, get into bed etc. If you can take advantage of this chain reaction effect by making a new habit part of an existing routine it can become quickly and easily embedded. Have a mint or gum after any snack or meal. It’s just part of the process.
It’s ok to fall off the bandwagon – researchers found that messing up isn’t a disaster at all, with slipping up not affecting your ability to form a habit. Building habits isn’t all or nothing. It’s totally ok to make mistakes. The good news with xylitol is that studies have shown a reduction in plaque after just 2 weeks of use and forgetting to use it for a day or two isn’t going to set you back to the start.
Think through the what if’s – it’s easy to make excuses so it’s good to pre-empt them. Think about what might stop you and come up with a counter. Need to get to the gym more often but always tired after work? Take your kit with you and go on the way home. Want to cook from scratch but never have any time? Get yourself some containers and have a big old batch cook one evening, then freeze the meals. Keep forgetting your mints & gum? The new going out mantra: keys, wallet, phone, Peppersmith. Easy.