Thoughts on… VI: Stress, Habits, Mindfulness

Thoughts on… VI: Stress, Habits, Mindfulness

Once every 3-4 months, I go through all my notes that I’ve written down and do a roundup post of what has been going through my head. Thoughts and quotes from books and actions that I’ve found helpful for me or for my clients. Your mind can work for you or against you when trying to reach you fitness goals.  For the Parts I – V, check the links below this post. Without further due, here’s the Part VI  where I ponder mindfulness, habits and stress.

Develop self awareness by observing yourself objectively in different situations. If you have a habit of eating everything in sight when getting home late in the evening after a stressful day, take a step back and observe what is going through your mind. Don’t judge but analyze your behavior and feelings like a mad scientist analyzing the shapes of the universe. What do you feel?

Things affecting self-control: your physical state, your emotional state, your physiological state. How can you improve your awareness of all the three?

Stress happens when we are faced with situations or tasks that exceed our capabilities.

Stress happens when we forget the present moment and focus too much in the future or the past. Learn to dwell in the present.

Instead of doing things with an end goal in mind, think of the current activity, whatever it is, as an end goal itself.

“Sudden drop in courage and happiness has a deteriorating effect on one’s immune system and physical health.” – Victor E. Frankl. (Paraphrased)

It’s not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor”  – Seneca

Pleasure is derived from outside. Joy comes from within.

When doing something new that challenges your current situation, such as lifestyle change, expect a “habit hangover” at 3-6 week mark. You might forget why you started in the first place. Your start remembering other priorities of life and keeping up the change is starting to feel like homework.  Some or all of the following might help you to get through your habit hangover:

  • Remind yourself that this is all optional. Take a day or two off if necessary. But don’t lose all of the momentum you’ve gained so far.
  • Check-in with yourself whether you want to alter something about the habit you are practicing at the moment. Maybe the one you are working at the moment isn’t right for you and you are better off choosing another.
  • Know that what you are feeling is normal. This is meant to be hard and everyone goes through this same cycle. Even the acknowledgement of struggle is an important part of the process.
  • Talking to someone about your struggle is a sign of progress. Sharing your struggle might help someone else who in-turn might help you.
  • Focus on behaviors that are 100% under your control. Ignore the outcome goal.
  • Focus on how you are winning right now. What is working for you?
  • Even the tiniest positive change is an improvement to where you were before.

It’s ok to not know your end goal. Most of us know where we don’t want to be at.

Instead of eliminating your unwanted habits, add a new positive habit and work on it. Once you add enough positive habits the negative habits will drop off easier. So instead of “stop eating ice cream after dinner”, try “eat [whatever amount is achievable for you] serves of vegetables with dinner.”

Stop focusing on what is not working and instead turn your attention to the things that you are doing right. How are you winning today?

Set aside a little bit of time each week where you are not occupied by your work, training or other people and use the time for reflection or reading a book. Book it in your calendar and stick to it each week. Disconnect. Gain perspective.

Set aside time each week to “play”. Crafting, drawing, painting, playing an instrument, kicking soccer ball around or building an ant farm. When you stop the constant thinking you open the door for creativity.

I’ve mentioned this quote in the past but I will repeat it since it is such powerful perspective: “It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.” – Marcus Aurelius

If you are reading one of my “Thoughts on” – posts for the first time here are links to the previous ones. Blasts from thy past.
Thoughts on Habits, Road and The Destination
Thoughts on… Part II: Fitness for Life, Busyness and Sticking with It
Thoughts on… Part III: Learning, Values, Peacefulness and Being a Good Person
Thoughts On… IV: Fat Loss and Movement
Thoughts on… V: Life

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