I’ve just finished listening to the audio book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. The book is very well written and surprisingly entertaining, using real life stories to illustrate the points about habit. Here’s a review which explains a little bit of the theory behind the book. Finishing the book has made me realise how I’ve been building positive habits that help my recovery. Here are a few that spring to mind:
- I use my infra red sauna daily,
- I meditate silently most days,
- My eating habits have changed dramatically compared with what I used to eat before I was ill.
- I take supplements
The habit loop consists of a cue (time, location, other people, environmental state or immediately preceding action), a routine and a reward.My reward for all the routines related to my recovery is feeling better. My cues vary, but are mostly time or immediately preceding actions.
My habits have changed as my recovery has progressed. For example I used to rest 4 times a day at specific times for 30-60 minutes, lying down and listening to guided relaxation. Now, I have a time cue for my daily meditation (after lunch, but before school pick up) but if I feel low on energy (cue: my emotional state – feeling tired) I will add in additional rests as needed.
Of course it’s also easy to get into unhelpful habits like spending all day on facebook, watching TV, eating doughnuts, having a glass of wine every evening or going to bed really late. The most important thing I am taking away from the book is that with a bit of work you can figure out what is driving your habits, and this will give you the power to change them.
I’ve heard that BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits Programme can help with creating new habits and I also recommend the blog Zen Habits by Leo Babauta.
So what habit do you want to build? Don’t try and change everything at once and remember from my Increasing or Decreasing post it’s easier to focus on adding something positive in rather than what you are removing/stopping. Here are some suggestions from me if you’re looking for ideas:
- Add an extra portion of vegetables to your evening meal;
- Think of a time of day when you are particularly tired and add an extra rest into your day, preferably an hour before that time;
- Write down 5 things you are grateful for every night before you go to sleep;
- Hug your family members when they come in from work/school.