Welcome to another day in this new shared reality of ours. We realize a lot of you may still be working as essential workers and health care providers: (so we want to take a moment to thank you for your tremendous efforts and all that you do).
We want to ask everyone a simple question: How have you sought out comfort in your new day-to-day routine?
Are you finally catching up on Netflix, Hulu, or your Disney+ playlist? Enjoying all the Live streaming happening on Instagram? Do you just roll out of bed whenever you feel like it? Have you lost track of the days?
Well, little do you know these past few weeks have manipulated our world into the perfect environment for forming new habits. Whether you will you be happy with these new habits once Covid-19 is down in history books is up to you.
Charles Duhigg, author of: The power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and business. And a New York Times Reporter; explained, during an NPR interview that a habit is made of these three things:
- A Cue- Something in your environment or routine that triggers a…
- Routine action (the behavior.)
- Finally, that behavior is Rewarded. This is: your brain recognizes the Reward as reinforcement of said behavior. With the promise of that reward, you’re more likely to recognize that cue again and continue that behavior.
What's Behind The Reasoning For Your Habits
So, to make this relevant to your life; unless you were an introvert to start with, quarantine has probably disrupted your ‘Cues’. If you’ve disrupted your cues than you have created an opening for new habits to be formed. You’ve probably already started forming new ones, desirable or not. Here’s how to make sure you only form beneficial habits from here on out. Because while we are trying to maintain some sort of normal life during this crisis it won’t always be like this, but you will be forever influenced by your experiences during this time.
For example: since non-essential businesses are closed down, you’re cooking more. Getting creative in the kitchen— maybe even eating better and using your BCRX meal replacement protein. Cooking often is a 'new' response to hunger: a cue. Maybe you only cooked at home once or twice a week before, now it’s 6-14 times ( a new behavior). It’s a big difference and you might find yourself experiencing joy at the thought of cooking in the future (the product of the reward).
Because you feel or experience a reward, you’re cooking more in this new environment than you did in the old. Your mind reinforces the behavior because of the reward. So when the cue, “I’m starving” happens, you don’t think about the fact you have to cook anymore. You start preparing your next delicious dish, and the notion of prep time is taken into little consideration.
How To Form 'Success' Habits
But, we missed something, If you want this new habit to stick post-quarantine, you should identify the reward. If you’ve been enjoying cooking, ask yourself why you feel invigorated at the thought of cooking even though you’re stuck at home bored. Do you feel more relaxed while preparing a meal: more creative even? How about your body— I’ve personally noticed my chronic dry skin clearing up, but that’s just me.
Duhigg says, if you identify the reward, that triggers your brain to release the chemicals that say: “Hey brain, great job in the kitchen, let’s do that again.”
So, if you want to form habits you’ll be happy with post-quarantine, you need to be more mindful.
Start by identifying your routine behavior you’re kind of ‘over’ subjecting yourself to.
Then (and this may be tricky), find out what’s cueing(triggering) that behavior. Finally, it’s equally important to realize how you find your behavior pleasurable (rewarding.)
So, this also works in different approaches. Let’s say you’ve been doing a little too much cooking at home. I mean it’s like the cookie monster is designing you dinner menu. So, we know the cue: hunger. Right— wrong. If you’re cooking in excess it might be for other reasons than hunger. Your cue could actually be feelings of loneliness, frustration, or a need for a creative outlet, etc.
A misunderstood cue might actually be reinforced because of the rewarding feelings you’ve associated with eating (eating typically makes one feel good). Interesting right? Do you eat when upset? Being upset is then linked in your brain as a trigger (cue) to eat. Because you find eating comforting, that makes the feeling of being comfortable, the reward. It's all just one big ole cycle of habit making, enacting, and reinforcing. Once you understand the cycle you can break it.
Recognizing the cue (hunger, nerves, restlessness) is the beginning step to reshaping the behavioral response (cooking). Then you need to look at the reward.
We can try contemplating if we cooked those two dozen cookies, what act would bring us joy: the actual cooking or the comforting effects of eating fat and sugar.
How Exactly Are You Rewarding Yourself?
Knowing the reward is the last part of this formula. If you say I baked two dozen cookies because I suddenly felt really useless, and I was rewarded with being able to sweeten up my families day. Then you know you need to replace your indulgent baking habit with something that responds to that cue while fulfilling it with the same rewarding feeling.
In this example you're rewarding your over- indulgent baking habit by interlacing it with the happy responses from your family. That's a really powerful response and it's likely to keep that habit strong and thriving.
Putting It all Into Action
Identifying the reward as ‘bringing happiness to your family’ means the cue wasn’t hunger and the behavior doesn’t need to be cooking. You can now insert a healthier more appropriate behavior (habit) and get the same reward as before:
1. You can try making fun fruit carvings for their lunches
2. You can make an ant farm or fairy gardens
3. Build forts, creating costumes, and put on a play
See where we're going with this?
Identify the Cue, Understand how you're rewarding yourself, and change the behavior. This is how you take control of your life and push yourself to success.
Take advantage of this odd time in our lives; work on those habits of yours. Who knows, maybe you’ll come out of the other end of this stronger than before. You’ll be happy with the habits you formed during Covid-19’s quarantine. There’s no time like today to start living.
---BCRX Content Writer, Klarrisa Arafa