Recently, I’ve been more and more aware of how mindful actions affect your daily output- how they affect your relationships, how you feel about your work at the end of the day, and how you think about yourself.
As many things as there are in the world that are out of your control, there are just as many things you can control. Many of them revolve around your own perspective, reactions, and actions that you choose to do or have.
For some reason, it’s just difficult for us to willingly and fully choose what’s best for us. Sometimes we even choose to choose the option that’s the worst for us! I found that this is something we can control though by forming small, thoughtful habits.
As I’ve mentioned in my previous blogposts, I’m currently at a phase of trying some experiments on myself in an effort to improve my health and wellbeing. To drive my point accross for this blogpost, let me use one of my experiments as an example. I wanted to reduce my sugar intake as studies showed that sugar is bad for you (increases inflammation, gives you too much of a dopamine spike at certain hours that messes with your energy levels in a day, and so on) and that means no bread, no cake, no soda, no juices, and a whole other set of products with hidden sugars.
I was a huge sweet tooth. I could finish a cake by myself, I kid you not. And I ate bread everyday. Doing that experiment was hard, as you can imagine. But believe it or not, it’s been eight months and I’m still maintaining that no-sweets (or at least “close-to-no-sweets”) practice.
Since my goal was to do this for the long-term, I had really long deadlines for myself. Like six months long. I spent six months gradually reducing my sweets intake and then I started the eight month count of the “close-to-no-sweets” habit. I was doing other experiments in tandem with this one but for the sake of simplicity I’ll just stick with this example.
I started with lessening the bread I ate everyday. From a full bagel to just half a bagel for the month. The next month it became just a fourth of the bagel, then later on, nothing at all. It was easier for me to let go of soda and juices as I was already avoiding them in the outset but for pastries, it was an active effort. But get this, I took it day by day. And I took my time. And so that bagel I ate every morning? I stopped craving for it naturally as I took my time getting my system used to not having it. I then moved on to after-meal KitKats, a bad habit I formed over the years that I wanted to stop. It took another month to get rid of.
If I went immediately to “from now on I will not eat a bagel forever”, I probably wouldn’t have lasted that long and went on a bagel withdrawal.
What I’m trying to say though is that it’s okay to take your time. Take however long you need and if you slip up, that’s no big deal. Just get back at it tomorrow. I wasn’t too hard on myself in this process either. If it was a family occasion, or if it happens that I have a bad cycle (talking about my period), then I’d eat cake with my family or indulge in a KitKat. That’s why I said “close-to-no-sweets”. What’s important is that it’s a conscious decision from you that you are eating that KitKat because you feel like your uterus is eating you from the inside or you are not eating that slice of cake even though it’s looking delectable against that cafe display counter. You are aware and present and not just reaching for it mindlessly as a reflex.
Whatever kind of habit it is that you’re trying to form or get rid of, I hope that my bagel analogy has helped reassure you in some way that you can do it and it will happen as long as you’re conscious about each decision you make, at least while you’re still in the habit-forming stage.
- It’s okay to take your time. If it takes you six months to naturally get out of bed at 6AM, then so be it.
- Take small steps if big jumps are too much for you to handle. Think of it as a long-term process, not a race.
- It’s okay to let yourself go once in a while as long as you’re mindful about it. Just remember to not hate yourself for doing it and make sure to get back on track right after.