Happy March, Meteorological Spring has sprung and Astronomical Spring is just round the corner (March 20th). So with the longer days finally here (hurrah for more Vitamin D), what good habits will you adopt to improve your wellbeing?
When you are considering the adoption of good habits, by definition, you are seeking to reduce the reliance on bad habits. Bad Habits or, primitive, at times inappropriate, behaviours are a construct of the primitive emotional mind.
The what now? I hear you say!
The primitive emotional mind is only interested in your survival. It’s drives the ‘primitive you’ who is hard-wired to hit it, run away form it or hide from it: ‘it’ being the trigger to your perceived feelings of stress.
When we operate from this part of our mind we are compelled to repeat behaviours that ensured our survival. Over time these bad habits become so habitual that they are often deployed without a second thought.
If you think you are overwhelmed then you are compelled to hide in your bedroom, stay indoors or reach for the chocolate.
If you think you are frustrated then you are compelled to act out, slam doors and or push those closest to you away.
If you think you are scared then you are compelled to run away, curl up in a ball and or shut down all social contact.
“If you take nothing else away from this article know this; what you think will determine how you feel. Think you are overwhelmed, you feel overwhelmed, think you are frustrated you act frustrated, think you are scared you feel scared.”
These primitive and often inappropriate behaviours are hardwired into your Hippocampus.
The Hippocampus has a symbiotic relationship with the Amygdala and Hypothalamus.
- The Amygdala being the emotional epicentre of the primitive emotional mind, often referred to the fight or flight area of the brain.
- The Hypothalamus being responsible for chemical production in the mind and body.
With the Amygdala calling all the shots, the Hypothalamus produces a flood of stress hormones, the very chemicals that activate the deployment of those primitive behaviours, aka bad habits, found in the Hippocampus.
Your bad habits are a product of your life experience and have ensured your survival yes, but intrinsically we all know that there must be more to life than just surviving, we want to thrive!
To thrive, and therefore adopt more positive behaviour, aka good habits, we must change the way we are currently doing things one small step at a time, deescalating the production of stress hormones so that the Hypothalamus can produce serotonin, giving you access to your intellectual, solution focused area of the brain; the left prefrontal cortex.
As a solution focused hypnotherapist I seek to enable clients to identify the solutions, aka small steps, which are right for them.
To engage the intellectual mind, Bri Flynn Witthuhn writing in Forbes, discusses the neuroscience behind behavioural change and suggests some useful tools to navigate you towards the adoption of good habits.
Bri suggests asking yourself the question ‘If-then’.
It goes something like this; ‘If’ I procrastinate to avoid going to the gym, submitting that report, sitting down with that person for a challenging conversation ‘then’ I will pause to notice nature, savour my favourite tea and or value my relationships.
Notice, Savour and Value (NSV) are fundamental personal metrics that can enable you to become more mindful, present and self-aware. To adopt these more positive habits we must practice, practice, practice. Practice is crucial to learning new, good habits and adopting more positive behaviours. Consider journaling; writing down your personal NSV moments and ‘if-then’ thoughts.
Journaling is especially useful in adopting good habits. It is because we are using multiple areas of the brain, intellectually firing on all cylinders.
Consider this… when you are thinking positively and then you act positively by writing it down, you effectively create a positive interaction with self; fundamentally you are practicing being kinder to yourself. By practicing how to be kinder to yourself, giving yourself a break and nurturing the change you seek in yourself, as you would for a best friend or loved one, you are fostering the right environment to adopt good habits.
Bri suggests you consider the following steps to integrate a new intention to your daily practice.
- Identify an unproductive habit that you would like to change. What is one change that would make your life more fulfilling?
- Reflect on the impact of this habit on your life to date. How has this habit served you? How has this habit harmed you?
- Make a personal commitment to change this behavior. What are the risks of not changing the habit?
- Now that you have identified the habit, create your if-then action plan. What will you do the next time that you are triggered? What will this new habit feel like one month from now? Make sure to write down your responses.
By focusing on the solution, rather than the problem, you give your mind permission to consider alternatives, the prospect of change and what small steps you can take now to affect that change This frees you from the negative forecasting of your primitive mind and the bad habits it has constructed.
Spring conceptualises new growth, optimism and better days to come. With the inevitable changing of the seasons what changes will you make towards the construction of more positive behaviours; aka good habits?
FREE WORKSHOP: Join Brett for a free talk on ‘How the Mind Works’ at Rowan House on March 25th 6.30pm-8.00pm. Call the Rowan House Reception on 01603 813 999 to book or place or email Brett directly: email@example.com
Brett Rennolds is a qualified Solution Focused Hypnotherapist DSFH, HPD, MNCH NCH Supervisor and registered with the Complimentary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). If you want to know more about the issues covered in this article contact Brett at Rowans House Centre for an initial consultation.