Issue#28 – Good Vibes – Your social life might help you live longer. Toolkits to cope with loss. Toolkit to make habits stick.
At this time last year, we were in the worst phase of covid. Almost every home had a sad story. When someone you love dies, your world changes. There is no right or wrong way to mourn. Although the death of a loved one can feel overwhelming, most people can make it through the grieving process with the support of family and friends. Learn healthy ways to help you through difficult times.
- Take care of yourself. Try to eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep. Avoid bad habits—like smoking or drinking alcohol—that can put your health at risk.
- Talk to caring friends. Let others know when you want to talk.
- Find a grief support group. It might help to talk with others who are also grieving.
- Don’t make major changes right away. Wait a while before making big decisions like moving or changing jobs.
- Talk to your doctor if you’re having trouble with everyday activities.
- Consider additional support. Sometimes short-term talk therapy can help.
- Be patient. Mourning takes time. It’s common to have roller-coaster emotions for a while.
Every day, you make 35,000 decisions. Little decisions like what to wear. Big decisions like what job to take. And every decision has an outcome that changes the trajectory of your life in some way.
We all consume too much “work harder” content when the biggest gains are under “work smarter.” So, as a toolkit to working smarter, let me recommend starting a decision journal.
Here’s a template:
5 steps for every decision journal entry:
1) What is the decision?
2) What is the desired outcome?
3) Why do you believe the outcome will occur?
4) What are the consequences if the outcome doesn’t occur?
5) How do you feel at the time?
A few other things to keep in mind while decision journaling:
- Journal big decisions, not all decisions
- Journal when you’re making the decision
- Set a future date to revisit the decision
Actually, a lot of people don’t know this. They hear the word calm and expect a completely calm mind. But the most powerful part of meditation is awareness.
Each time your mind wanders, it gives you a chance to become aware of where it wandered off to. It’s like a workout: the more your mind wanders, the more reps you get at being aware. When I train meditation as a productivity tool, I call each of these a mental pushup. You want to do lots of them.
Good habits change your life. They become the foundation that prepares you for each day. They become a place of solace you can come to after you’ve battled the chaotic world. They become the light at the end of the tunnel because you know that whatever happens throughout the day, your habits will always be there for you.
Here’s how to make a habit stick.
Identify the routine
The routine is the most straightforward part to choose because you likely already have one — or more than one — in mind. Exercise, meditation, and journaling are examples of routines. If you can’t think of anything else, experiment with one of those three.
If you can’t think of a routine, then maybe you don’t need to create a habit. There’s no reason to get into the habit of doing something just for the sake of getting into the habit of doing something.
But if there’s something you want to do, then decide when you’re going to do it and how it relates to other habits you already have.
Isolate a cue
A cue is a trigger for your routine. The routine comes right after the cue. I brush my teeth (routine) after getting out of bed (cue).
Cues fall into the following categories:
- Emotional state
- Other people
- Immediately preceding action
A good cue is a combination of these
Choose a reward
Rewards teach you that the habit is worth building. You can implement pseudo-rewards like eating candy after meditation, but most of the time, you won’t need something like that.
If you chose a healthy routine, there are already intrinsic benefits to it. Reflect on those benefits. Reflect, reflect, reflect. And then research. Learn everything you can about how your habit is going to improve your life. That’s a reliable, real reward.
So, you now have a cue, routine, and reward. But everything is still so confusing; are there any examples? Yes.
My Habit loops
Cue: My morning cup of coffee
Routine: Sit on the study table learning new things. Also journaling. I will take my coffee mug and sit on my study table and do my one hour of study.
Reward: New knowledge & learnings. Brain is active. A clear mind is prepared to tackle the day.
Start small. really small. Small improvements create big wins. Repeat your habit. Repeat it more. Repeat it until you’re comfortable. Repeat it until you do it automatically. Repeat it until you miss it if you miss it. Repeat it like your favorite song. Repeat it as if your life depended on it. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
I would strongly recommend everyone to read Charles
Duhigg’s book Power of Habit
If you’re curious, try out how you score on the Fear of Sleep
- I’m fearful of letting my guard down while sleeping.
- I try to stay as alert as I can while lying in bed.
- I’m fearful of the loss of control that I experience during sleep.
- When I wake up in the night, I’m often terrified of returning to sleep.
- I avoid going to sleep because I think I’ll have really bad dreams.
- If I wake up in the middle of the night from a nightmare, I avoid returning to sleep because I might go back into the nightmare.
- I’m afraid to close my eyes.
- I feel it’s dangerous to fall asleep.
- I’m aware of being vulnerable speciawhen I’m asleep.
- I stay up late to avoid sleeping.
- I try to stay alert to any strange noises while going to sleep.
- Being in the dark scares me.
- I sleep with a light on to feel safer.
Basically, the more items you say yes to or agree with, the higher your fear of sleep.
Fear of sleep, and related sleep disturbances (such as nightmares), is closely linked with symptoms of PTSD. For instance, around 50% to 70% of PTSD patients report that they often have nightmares.
If you agree with two or more of these items, consider discussing the results with your doctor, particularly a mental health professional.