Habit loops are created in large part by our survival, emotion, and logic - our 3 brains. The brain stem, limbic system, and cortex. Behaviors that turn into habit loops start with a cue, then a routine, ending in reward. I'm going to keep this simple, but here are just a couple examples:
Sometimes people think they have severe chocolate cravings, when in reality they could have a micro nutrient deficiency, like iron or magnesium. So the survivor brain is telling the body, "Hey the last time we were this low on magnesium, delicious chocolate saved the day. Let's do that again."
Some people have a habit of eating ice cream before bed, especially in times of stress. This habit could have started as a special treat at your grandparents house over the summer months, but now eating ice cream at night has transcended into this warm and comforting feeling... actually releasing feel good endorphins like dopamine. Over time this behavior can develop into a self-soothing ritual. That's emotion taking over.
During the past few months, many of us may have been creating new habit loops - adjusting to our new normal. In these times, it's important to be aware and mindful of our current patterns. Think about what you're doing that's new. Ask yourself, is this aiding to my wellness? Am I engaging in binge eating, having 1 too many cocktails, sleeping less, not moving as much?
Here are just a few strategies I've discussed with my clients to help keep them on track:
1. Make sure you have a cutoff time for eating, I suggest 7 pm.
2. Have yourself a delicious cup of herbal tea or calming magnesium drink before bed.
3. Engage in nightly meditations or body scans (there are so many free apps out there!)
4. Take advantage of all the free big fit apps, reduced price zoom workouts, YouTube fitness, or simply go outside and walk a few times a day. The body was designed to move! I am currently running Zoom fitness classes for only $15 a workout, T/Th mornings at 6 am. #noexcuses
Small, simple behaviors like the above can have a huge impact on your wellness. I encourage you to try them and share what's working for you with others. We could all use some healthy life hacks during this Covid-19 season!
Stay healthy, friends!!