Week Sixteen: Establishing Healthier Habits

Photo courtesy of @alesnesetril via unsplash

Changing old habits, (and starting new ones) can be a difficult task.

  • Sometimes our mind convinces us a certain behavior is something we should do

… and the cycle continues.

It can be hard to make this stop — especially when it comes to our digital habits, which often occur on platforms designed to minimize boundaries, managed by companies with a vested interest in our continued habitual use.

Sometimes the thing we need most to break a habit is some sort of permission from a source other than ourselves, assuring us it’s OK to make a change, take a chance, try something new.

Well, I’m not your mom, your therapist, or maybe even your friend, but I can give you that permission if you want it.

You have permission to be “off duty”

Although we live in an culture that worships “the cult of busyness,” the “side hustle,” and being “always on,” it’s OK to opt out sometimes and practice habits that instead put your needs and desires first.

As much as it may seem like you need to respond to every text immediately, watch the latest Netflix show as soon as it’s released, or be constantly striving for success, you really don’t.

  • It’s OK to establish “device down” times or “digital office hours” for yourself, (or your whole family) and communicate that info to the people in your life, (i.e. “I only respond to emails between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm,” or “I only use this cell phone for emergencies. If you need to reach me, please email instead.”)

You have permission to say “no” (and also “goodbye”)

As we talked in Week 15, it’s positive and healthy to establish habits that distance you from anything in your life causing unhappiness or pain.

That decision is solely yours to make. Even if everyone in the whole world thinks something is cool, it’s still OK to decide it’s awful for you and give it the boot.

  • It’s OK to disconnect yourself from people who regularly make you feel inferior, ashamed, guilty, sad, angry, etc. Even if you only interact with the person periodically — even if you never engage with them directly — the bad feelings from having them in your life can still weigh you down. Don’t be afraid to mute, unfollow, or unfriend.

You have permission to share your feelings

Even if you can’t immediately change a habit, you can change the silence that surrounds it and start sharing your feelings about that habit more regularly.

Because if a habit makes you sad or angry for a day, that’s likely no big deal, but it’s practiced, (or observed) for years, those feelings can add up and start to become disruptive and even damaging.

  • It’s OK to be honest with yourself that you have habits that bother you and you struggle to change. It’s also OK to share that info with other people, who may have similar problems and find your experience inspirational or comforting. By only presenting a sanitized, “all smiles” version of your life to the world, you might actually be making others feel like they never measure up.

This week’s exercise

If you need it, let this post serve as permission to start changing old habits or behaviors in your life that currently aren’t serving you well. Or, feel free to print out the permission slip below and give yourself permission instead.

Remember these changes will probably feel awkward at first and will not always be rewarded with admiration and praise by others. But you know what? People will get over it. You might be surprised by how quickly everyone adapts, (including yourself).

If someone complains about the changes you’re making, you also have permission to say, “I understand your frustration, but this is something I need to do right now for my own health and happiness.” Then, leave it at that. You have permission not to deal with it if they choose to have a subsequent hissy fit.

Thank you for stopping by! We’re in the home stretch on this eCourse. Next week we’ll talk about ways to quiet the digital noise and distractions in your life. I look forward to seeing you then and hope you continue to be healthy and safe.

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I’d love to hear your thoughts on this course as we go. Feel free to leave comments on any of the posts or email me at jen@jenkane.com if you’d like to share something privately.

Digital Wellness Coach and Consultant | Author | Speaker| More info at jenkane.com