Break The Habit Cycle: Creating Space

  • Label each experience and witness it from a distance, creating space between you and the sensation.
  • Practice kindness and love towards yourself and others.
  • Review and update the brain’s reward system in a positive way, inserting good behaviour and positive habit loops.
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Health

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Anxiety Is In What We Do

A new book by psychiatrist Judson Brewer, Unwinding Anxiety, proposes that anxiety exists in our daily habits, and is not something that simply goes away by breathing exercises.

Our brain is addicted to the habits due to the rewards attached to them, and we need to dismantle and decouple the rewards in order to break free from the habit and eventually the associated anxiety.

The brain labels our actions and behaviour as ‘rewarding’, usually in our formative years. We need to review our behaviour and habits and update the brain’s reward system.

Example: We may be having a habit of eating a lot of cake, since our childhood. Now as an adult, the habit is resulting in a high intake of sugar, without our realizing it.

If we use this method to review and update our reward system, the brain will naturally lose the urge to take the habitual action, something much more powerful than using willpower, which only suppresses the urge.

Anxiety triggers habit loops, but can also be the result of a habit loop (like reading the news online). Constant worrying is also a reinforcing pattern of habit loops.

The reward can be a eureka moment towards a potential solution (which is rare) or a feeling of productivity and passive action, providing us with a sense of control.

We are struggling with anxiety as our habits don’t let us part with it, with the pleasure and pain coming in a package. The habit loop of any habit cycle is:

  1. Trigger: A feeling of anxiety.
  2. Behaviour: Doing something (like eating a chocolate or lighting a smoke).
  3. Result: Temporary distraction from anxiety.

Review your daily actions and map out the habits that create such loops.

Creating healthy habits requires mindfulness, so that new habit loops can be inserted when a trigger surfaces in your mind.

  • Be curious and mindful at all times if possible, tuning into your breath whenever anxiety arises.
  • Practice RAIN: Recognize and relax into the NOW, accepting it in your life. Investigate the sensations arising in your body, noting down what is happening to you.

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No, we are not over yet. After discussing the topic with my friend’s Dad (he is a doctor), I’ve made a list of things you need to understand and avoid anxiety attacks (hard to breathe moments).

  1. Think of your anxiety as a biological problem, rather than thinking there is something wrong with your head. Anxiety is just a physical state that has its mental side effects. Treat the physical effects, to feel less stressed. 
  2. It won’t leave you alone, anxiety is repetitive. If you ever get an anxiety attack, chances are you’ll get them again. However, anxiety symptoms are also the same. You can to straight your back and cultivate a habit that will help you become more resilient to stress biologically.
  3. Stop taking stimulants, cigarettes, caffeine, and alcohol, they might give you your worst nightmare. Weed might calm you down (it works for me) but if you see the anxiety symptoms don’t push it. And also, it’s illegal, so I’m not promoting it. 
  4. Keep a good diet, eating at least three times a day is the least can do for the better of yourself. Complex carbs, healthy fats, and protein. Eliminate sugar or at least don’t add another cube in your drink. 
  5. Don’t have to go to the gym if your work schedule doesn’t allow you. Though you have to start exercising, start with bodyweight exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, squats and maybe some pull-ups. You won’t have enough energy to stress out after having a good hard work-out, believe me, it’s tried and tested. 
  6. Nothing is happening on your mobile screen, put it down and have a good night sleep. It is important for your body and brain, to repair all the damage you have taken to get done with the day. Disturbed or insufficient sleep regularly will definitely give you anxiety. Aim for a good-long 8 hours sleep and don’t worry if most of the night you able to get only 6-or-7 hours sleep.
  7. Have to start meditating because controlled breathing is the best way to avoid anxiety. There are a lot of resources available on the internet that can teach you meditation, you can also use Headspace one of my favorite app for meditating. Especially, if you have never tried meditation before, use Headspace mobile app and just fall in love with the magic of mindfulness. 

Life could have been easy if people love to share what they have. But the fact that we all are selfish in one way or another has pulled down humanity down in the dumps where almost no one is happy. Why are we like this, why can’t we share the knowledge that we have, power that we possess, the money that we have earned to help someone less unfortunate? Is it because bad things always feel good. But let’s not stray from our main topic and recall what we have learned so far.

  1. Anxiety is a physical, biological problem. Treat it as such and don’t worry about the psychological effects.
  2. Re-read point one. And then do that again.
  3. You are not taking any stimulants from now on. 
  4. Pay attention to what you eat. 
  5. Exercise. Daily, until you’re tired.
  6. Make good-sleep your utmost priority. 
  7. Learn the breathing techniques, meditation is one way to go.
  8. And this one is not added in the main points but see the doc if you still haven’t found 

1

IDEA

Curiosity

Curiosity is a natural phenomenon that helps people move into new experiences, tapping their inherent powers of wonder and inquisitiveness. Curiosity is an ideal positive state of openness and engagement, no matter what our culture or background is.

Curiosity can help us heal our anxiety if utilized in a particular manner.

Staying mentally strong and healthy

Prevention is the best medicine. It is really difficult to pull out of negative spirals once we've fallen into them.

  • It's hard to pull out of a major depressive episode once we're in the habit of beating ourselves up.
  • It's hard to stop worrying once we've started imagining all the worst possible outcomes.

Not that pulling out of these problems is impossible. It isn't. But it can be a struggle. Life can be much better if we can creatively avoid these negative cycles in the first place.

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