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Our habits can destroy us. Habits are a big part of who you are. Do something enough times and that is who you become. Smoke frequently and you are a smoker. Drink often and you become known as an alcoholic. Pray daily and you are known as religious. Study a lot and they call you nerdy.
The opposite of destructive isn’t constructive. The opposite of destructive is creative. And you can choose to adopt habits which help you create and build. Habits that make your mental, physical and spiritual muscles stronger.
Here are the ones that are helping me stay strong and avoid binging on bowls of ice-cream during this crisis:
1. Seeking Clarity
I have this habit of journaling about my thoughts, questioning why I feel a certain way, and peeling back the layers to get to the real problem. This helps me distil my thoughts to transparency. And just like peeling an onion, it makes me cry.
Journaling also leaves me with a lighter conscious and a happier heart. It lets me tap into the oasis of compassion residing within me. In this crisis, it has allowed me to deal with my lack of personal space and my dwindling mental peace.
Journaling has enabled me to understand how I can create more happiness for myself and others, what my strengths and struggles are, and what I really need.
There is always a good reason and a real reason for doing something. Journaling helped me get to the real reason. I came out with a better understanding of myself, more compassion and more self love.
I love to learn. I read, watch, and listen to more things than I can remember but if I could get paid to learn, I would gleefully do it all my life! Learning, though believed to be a very good thing, gets in the way for me. It distracts me from what really matters. But this distraction has served me well in the last 6 weeks.
Since the time this quarantine started, I have finished reading ‘The How of Happiness’ by Sonja Lyubomirsky, ‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Rubin, One Jack Reacher novel, and Things No One Can Teach Us by Humble The Poet. I have watched Liz Gilbert’s TED talk and finished over 7 previously ‘In progress’ courses on LinkedIn Learning.
This has helped me stay occupied, kill time outside of work, and kept my mind away from all the negativity and guilt which usually follows a netflix binge!
“You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.” – Henry David Thoreau
3. Eating Healthy & Tracking My Food Intake
I come from a family of diabetics and also have family members who have died from cancer. Two of the deadliest diseases are in my genes so I need to be very careful about what I put in my body!
Working in an office that provides sumptuous food for free helped me build my mental muscle. Despite having access to some of the best food around daily, I choose healthy over delicious and in the last 45 days, it has made all the difference. Staying home, it is hard to resist the munchies but my practice for the last year and a half made resisting the nearest pack of chips a walk in the park.
4. Meditation (AKA Writing)
Writing is my way to meditate. Like meditation, writing helps me reduce stress by taking my mind away from all the panic. It helps me control my anxiety because it slows me down and makes me think. In reducing my stress and controlling my anxiety, it makes me emotionally healthier and stronger.
At a time when I find it hard to focus for the majority of my day, writing lengthens my attention span, keeps me in the zone, and helps me stay focused!
Most importantly, it quiets all the buzz in my brain and helps me get a good night’s sleep! I know this one because I track my sleep and for the last few weeks, the days I have slept the best, are the days where I have written — until I couldn’t write anymore.
“If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.” – Martin Luther
5. Working Out
The house I live in is small. Put four people in it and it becomes tiny! Plus by working from home, all I do is sit and work. Because of this, workouts became non-negotiable.
I have now been working out consistently for over 3 years. Just like brushing or showering, it now comes natural to me, and I don’t have to spend energy thinking about it.
And boy has that kept my waistline in check! If I am sleepy, stressed, or feeling lazy, I go work out. Workouts have helped me stay energized and at the same time tire me out enough to get a good quality sleep at night.