Noticing Ingrained Habits

by Nyamka Bayanmunkh in


Most of what we do day-to-day are ingrained habits. They go unnoticed until we do something different that makes us  stop and observe. That’s why good habits take a while to implement, and bad habits are hard to break.

A few days ago, I went out without a bag. I didn’t notice anything different until I had to stand still for a while. Standing still felt awkward. My posture wasn't straight and I only felt comfortable standing with my hips jutted out, and having one arm on it like I would if I was carrying a bag. Without a bag I didn't know what to do with my hands. My default standing position had changed overtime and standing still with arms by my side was no longer a natural posture.

I knew that carrying a heavy bag on one side of your body shifts the center of the gravity of your body as it adjusts to support  the excess weight, but knowing it did no good because I wasn't aware that I was doing it. I didn't notice it or the effect it had on me because it was a habit, and I didn't think about it. A simple observation provoked by doing something different from usual drew my attention to it , so I could start working towards changing it.

I had chronic back pain when I was younger, but that was healed years ago, and since then I have not had any pain so I just assumed that my posture was good because I didn't have pain anymore. However, I had noticed my shoulders were becoming more tense and tight over time, but I didn’t know why. Now I know, it’s my daily  bag ( very heavy because it's always full of food) carrying habit that’s causing the bad posture and tense shoulder muscles. Now, I am trying to leave my bag at home more often and trying to stand straight when I am not holding it. I also came up with a little exercise to help myself get relaxed, and more fluid in when I stand .

"Nothing to do, nowhere to go"

I think “Nothing to do, and nowhere to go” or  say it aloud if I am alone, and then take 5 deep breaths. When I say the phrase and do the breathing exercise my body relaxes, I become aware of my posture, which makes it easier for me stand taller, straighter, and more fluid without feeling stiff or awkward with my arms. Even if you don't have bad posture I encourage you to try the exercise, it can help you recalibrate the mind and body during a busy day, too.

Becoming aware of an unknown bad habit can help you improve your health. Once you know what habits are bad for you, you can start to change it. Here’s how you can test out  if your habits are serving you:

  1. Do something different than what you normally do. Doing something different helped me notice my bad habit and change it. Anything that is different from what you do normally day-to-day works because it is not a habit, and you have to pay more attention to do it rather than coasting through it like with an ingrained habit. Try a different breakfast, leave something at home, go without a bag, or try a new route to work and see how you feel.
  1. Evaluate the difference. Does doing something different make you feel better, the same, or worse. Why is that? If it feels better you can try continuing it for a period of time, maybe for 21 days, to implement a new and good habit. If you feel worse whilst trying something new then just go back to your old habit (Also, good job  for trying something new because science says that trying new things makes new connections between your neurons and that’s good for your brain health).

What will you do differently today? What ingrained habits do you know you have and are struggling to change? Let me know in the comments sections.

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With love & simplicity,