Do you often feel like you have no energy left at the end of the day? Do you routinely find yourself crashing midway through the day, wishing you could make it just a little bit further? If so, your habits may be to blame.
The power of habit is a unique mechanism. Good habits can drastically improve our physical and mental wellbeing. Habits also play a determining role in our success.
As you and I both know, it’s not all good news with habits. They can put healthy, productive behaviours on autopilot, but they can do the same for unhealthy ones that chip away at your energy.
We all know some of the common bad habits — nail-biting, late-night snacking, smoking cigarettes, etc. So today, let’s look at a few sneakier ones — some habits that might be sucking the energy out of your day without you even knowing. Sneaky right?
1. Clinging to a Negative Attitude
Have you ever thought of your attitude as a habit? If not, you might want to start. The self-talk you engage in has a significant effect on your mood and overall wellbeing, and it’s something you have a lot of power to influence.
We all have a negativity bias. It’s normal behaviour, to an extent. However, it becomes a problem when we give that bias too much control, and it starts to prime our brains to focus only on negativity.
Happiness is a skill that takes practice, says Martin Seligman. Exercising positive thinking and gratitude every day helps break the habit of constant negative thinking. A more positive attitude can give you back your energy. This is one of the many benefits of positive thinking.
2. Too much Multitasking
Hustle culture has taught us that to succeed in life, we need to be constantly multitasking to be productive. Yet the truth is, multitasking is a myth.
In reality, manic multitasking is a habit many of us fall into that makes us less productive. It takes us more time and energy to get anything done, making it more like procrastination than an efficient.
The good news is that this same habit is pretty easy to replace with a good one, like task batching. Good mind suggests that you try this: write down everything you want to get done in a particular time window, and sort it out into batches that make sense for your brain. Then take on those tasks one “batch” at a time.
3. Putting off Rest
Here we have another example of conventional work-ethic wisdom telling us to go faster at every turn when we might be better off slowing down.
It might seem obvious to say that ignoring rest makes you feel tired. The problem here isn’t occasionally going to bed late and feeling tired the next day. The issue is when a general attitude of procrastinating rest.
Being mindful of your body’s needs (and attending to them) is the ultimate energy hack.
You may consider it unproductive, even lazy, to take a 20-minute break at work. The crazy thing is, the energy surplus you can get from a short rest can more than make up for the amount of time you “lost” by listening to your body and letting it recharge.
4. Under-Valuing Yourself
Self-respect is one of the essential tools of a healthy human psyche. It often goes unnoticed, but many of the decisions we make throughout the day subconsciously impact our self-image. Some choices build our respect for ourselves; others lower it.
Making frequent choices that lower your self-respect will (spoiler alert) make you feel bad about yourself, and when you feel bad about yourself, you’re more likely to make future choices that feel even worse. Before you know it, you’ve accidentally created a habit of disrespecting yourself with your actions. Low self-respect bolsters a negative attitude, and we’ve already seen why that’s an unhealthy habit.
Breaking Bad Habits
Okay, so we know we have unhealthy habits we want to break; what now? It’s not as simple as deciding to quit, or else we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. Habit change is difficult; these are deeply ingrained habitual behaviours and routines.
Is it a matter of mere willpower and going cold turkey on our poor habits? What about replacing them with better habits? Is there one right approach for certain habits and another for different habits? How many more times am I going to use the word habits?
Unfortunately, there are no hard-and-fast answers that will work across the board. Fortunately, though, there are many answers that may work for you. Let’s look at a few ideas from some of the experts on building healthier habits.
Bestselling author Charles Duhigg has become a central figure in the conversation around how to change our habits. Much of his analysis concerns a simple framework which he calls the “habit loop.” It goes like this:
A cue signals our brains to start a familiar routine.
We follow the routine we associate with that cue.
We receive a reward, whether emotional or physical. The reward affirms and reinforces the cue from step 1.
This process, Duhigg says, is how we develop bad habits and good ones. To change our habits then, it is up to us to take charge of the cycle.
There are many ways to do this. For instance, we can practice identifying our cues so that we can avoid or repurpose them. Alternatively, we can take the reward we get from a bad habit and try to find a good habit that gives us the same thing.
Much of Rubin’s work centers around making positive changes to your habits and behaviours in ways that work for you.
Use reminders to help stick to your intentions
Create systems of accountability
Reward yourself for repeating the desired behaviour
The takeaway here is not any single strategy so much as a comforting reminder that we all work differently. What helps me kickstart a great habit or kick out a destructive one may not work well for you. So there’s a bit of experimenting involved, and it’s okay if it takes a while to find your perfect groove.
We hope that these little pointers will come in handy to help you reprogram your bad habits into healthier ones.
Remember habit formations take time and being patient and kind to yourself will go a long way.As a starter remember to be mindful of your habits and identify habits that are draining your energy. The first step is always the most crucial and we hope this article will help you with that.
Blount. (2021). Ways to change bad habits Psych Central. Retrieved from: https://psychcentral.com/health/steps-to-changing-a-bad-habit
Mong. (2022). 7 habits that constantly drain your energy. Victor Mong. Retrieved from: https://victormong.medium.com/7-habits-that-drain-your-energy-and-how-to-fix-it-42fffc1be6a9
Sorgen. (2022). What is zapping your energy? WebMD. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/whats-zapping-your-energy#1
By: Shreya Royan