We all have habits, some good, some not so good. Some of us like to eat sugar with our morning coffee, or binge watch Netflix in the evening. Some of us bite our fingernails and some of us…most of us in fact….habitually look at our phones, constantly.
There are habits that genuinely make us feel good, but not necessarily while we are doing them. Then there are some that genuinely make us feel bad after we’ve done them. For instance, when I eat sugar for breakfast, I turn into a lunatic by nine o’clock because I’ve sugar crashed. I know this will happen. I know I won’t like the feeling thirty minutes after I’ve done it, but the instant gratification is too much for me. I do it anyway, typically without thinking too much about it and often with great guilt.
So how do we change our habits to help ourselves let go of that instant gratification and recognize the habits that will make us feel good in the long run? We stay present. Here are a few ideas to help you change some of those habits. By the way, I’m speaking from experience here. I struggle with all of these things.
- Turn off your phone when you are driving, having a meeting, or engaging with a friend. Seriously. It won’t kill you. Put the thing on “airplane mode” or at least silence it and put it out of sight. And I don’t mean put it on vibrate. That little buzz makes us all grab for our phones. Put it out of sight and turned off somewhere. Guess what? Those messages, emails, and newsfeeds will still be there when you turn it back on!
- When you are eating, let that be the only thing you are doing. If you’re like me, you eat at your desk for lunch and watch TV during dinner, even when your lovely significant other is sitting next to you. It is really easy to use the excuse of staying productive during the day and turning off the mind at night. But guess what. Then we eat without thinking. We should enjoy every bite and have some concept of how that food is going to make us feel when we’re done with it. Since our brains really can’t multi-task, when we are staring at our technology our eating goes on autopilot.
- Take twenty minutes a day to do that one thing you don’t think you have time to do but always wanted to do. It might be a yoga video. You don’t even have to leave your house, or worry that you don’t have the right yoga pants! Just do this at home! Or draw a picture. Or practice a musical instrument. Or meditate. When you think you don’t have time, ask yourself how much time are you really spending on Facebook or watching TV? Really. Be honest. You are doing one of these things for FAR more than twenty minutes a day!
- Notice when you are doing the things that you chide yourself about, like biting your finger nails. For me, it is in the car especially when I’m stressed. Or when I’m talking to someone and I’m having trouble paying attention. Well guess what? If you notice what you are doing and then gently refocus your brain, you’ll be able to stop. It may take a lot of repetition, but you will stop for thirty seconds; then a minute; then five minutes; and pretty soon you won’t be doing it at all!
Try it. It will help you let go of the guilt, live in the moment, and help you to be proud of the way you are spending your time.