Habits

Instilling positive habits and removing negative ones is an unattractive method of coping with anxiety. This is because the process of either adding or removing them takes a level of discipline and commitment many people may not feel they have (but I ensure they do!). I will detail the habits I subscribe to and tips for sticking with them.

1. Meditation

A classic activity that improves general feeling of well-being. When I first began meditating, I grew frustrated because I was under the impression that if I was thinking during the session, I was doing it wrong. Remember, there is no wrong way to meditate. You must only sit and observe your thoughts so you can discover they exist apart from your actions.

2. Complete Primary Task

To accomplish this habit, I prioritize my tasks for the day and ensure that the most important one, and therefore the one that will make me the most uncomfortable, gets done.

3. Cold Shower

This habit is a horrible one to acquire, but I can’t recommend it enough. I begin with hot water and gradually turn it cold. Then I quickly make it very cold and jump around the shower like popcorn. After I leave the shower, I feel exasperated, refreshed, and ready to move on. This can also be employed as a very healthy alternative to self-harm.

4. No Snooze Button

I will admit, I am unable to do this every day. Sometimes we need more sleep, due to the day we had before, sickness, or other factors. So I aim for five days a week.

5. Journal (and gratitude)

Writing in a journal is my oldest habit, and the one I attribute most of my progress to. Building this habit is enormous; it provides an immediate response to paralyzing anxiety.

6. Read

I try to read at least 30 pages of a book each day. Books are upgrades to your life; even if you can’t pinpoint how a great work of fiction or nonfiction changed you, I can assure you it does. See my “reading recommendations” page.

How to Stick to Habits as You Build Them

It’s very easy to think of reasons why you shouldn’t perform your positive habits. Of course, recognizing that these reasons are irrational doesn’t do anything to improve your changes of doing them. So how, then, can you ensure that you get them done? Two ways:

  1. Recognize that you won’t; not always.

There is a margin of error in everything, so if you have a particularly bad day, as hard as it may be, understand it’s entirely normal and inevitable. The best thing you can do for yourself is be sure you don’t make the same mistake again.

2. Track your progress.

There is something motivating about seeing the number of days you’ve performed a habit in a row, and you can improve your chances of success by marking them. Attached is my own template that I’ve used for a while: feel free to download and alter the template in any way that makes you comfortable.

My habit tracking sheet.

Each day, when I complete a task, I put a check mark next to the corresponding activity. If I don’t, I put an X. Sometimes when I don’t feel like doing something, I just need a visual reminder of how far I’ve come.

If these activities are performed relatively consistently, they become easier. They become less of a burden on the mind.

By building these positive habits, your lows will not be so low and you can have some constancy and reliability in your personal life; this has greatly increased my confidence.

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