(Bad) Habit – Be Gone! – Part 2

Habit – the development of a behaviour pattern until it almost becomes involuntary.

The “almost” in this definition is important. It implies that because it is not involuntary, you can have control over the habit. That’s good news!

Behaviours that are both signs and symptoms of stress can become habits, too. For example, you may be engaging in a “hamster-wheel” of looping thoughts, expending precious energy worrying about things that never come to pass. You wear yourself out and, unintentionally, practise this behaviour until it becomes a habit; you reset your default switch, so that it takes less and less to trigger the stress response. In this example, it manifests itself as endless worrying.

Worrying is not the only stress-related habit. Are you less patient now? Do you give up on projects well before you’ve given yourself a fair and reasonable amount of time to work on them? You may have developed the habit of anger – erupting over matters that are insignificant, but at the time, seemed hugely important.

Habits can detract or augment your health. When you are engaging in the stress habit (soaking in negative thoughts and emotions), you trigger a cascade of chemicals that can activate the inflammatory response. I have benefitted greatly by learning and practising stress techniques. Less inflammation and fewer flare-ups are the result. When they do occur, I am much better at moving through them.

When you balance your nervous system, which happens when you effect a change in your heart rhythms, you are better-positioned to “work” your habits. The ones you wish to cultivate and those you wish to eliminate.

Your turn: Do you have some emotional habits that need redirecting? Are you aware of when you are engaging in a non-resourceful habit? Do you know how to change it?

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