Noticing Ingrained Habits

by Nyamka Bayanmunkh in


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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,

Nyamka


Small Improvements: Can't Sleep? Install an App to Sleep Better

by Nyamka Bayanmunkh in


Sleep better The right amount of sleep is crucial. Sleep helps our bodies rejuvenate and repair. Without enough sleep our bodies perform at a suboptimal level.  Whenever I get less than eight hours of sleep for more than a few days, I get sick the following with a cold or a sore throat. This is a given. It  doesn’t matter if I have been drinking drinking green juices every morning, eating well, and exercising. Lose a couple nights of good sleep in a row, and like clockwork I get sick.

According to this infographic we are the only mammals that willingly delay sleep, and our biggest sleep distractor is the internet/technology  (meaning there are no sheeps counting humans when they can’t go to sleep after reading too many articles on the interwebs).  We delay our sleep the night before only in the next day to experience drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, headaches, irritability and more hunger. Over time  losing sleep can lead to aching muscles, confusion, memory loss, depression, hallucinations, hand tremors, headaches, sensitivity to cold, blood shot eyes, bloating, increased blood pressure, increased level of stress, irritability, and  obesity. If you are working on improving your health don’t forget about your sleep quality.Usually, improving your sleep is not too complicated. Make your bedroom restful, drink less coffee, do a bit more exercise and have an established bedtime routine. However, even though we know what’s good for us doesn't mean we do it.

Getting enough sleep is my number one personal health challenge. I have a bedtime routine helps me relax and sleep better. I turn off all the technology, the lights and read a book. However,  my routine gets forgotten when I am using technology during the evening, which is often. I could be studying, working, or writing all of which make me lose track of time and I  end up completely forgetting my bed time routine. Before I know it, it’s already 11.45 pm and when I go to bed my brain refuses to relax and instead it continues to churn. If you have the same problem and  you can’t sleep for hours on end because you are not sleepy but tired, try this app. It’s called F.lux and it’s free to download. It works by gradually reducing the blue light as it get’s darker outside. This means your internal clockwork isn’t halted by the blue light, and you get sleepy at the right time of the day.

Exposure to blue light affects our ability to fall asleep by affecting our  melatonin levels. Melatonin makes us sleepy. Our bodies have evolved such that it corresponds with the sunlight. At noon when daylight is at it’s brightest, our melatonin production is at our lowest making us wide awake enabling us to work during the daylight. As the day gets darker, melatonin levels increase making us feel sleepy so we sleep and our bodies can rejuvenate. However, when we use technology  that emits strong blue light such as our computers, tablets, and smartphones  it messes with our ability to produce enough melatonin in order to fall asleep. F.lux solves the problem without us having to solely use our will power to get ourselves to bed in time.

In the last few weeks when I have been working on the computer during the evening, I have been getting sleepy at about 9 pm because of the gradual dimming of the screen. Plus, as the screen is such a different colour ( it’s orange-y) in the evening  it’s a good visual reminder signalling me that it’s too late to be working and it’s time to unplug and go to bed. So far I have been able to get to sleep within 20 minutes, which is much better than  what happened previously, which was hours of tossing and turning. If you are struggling with sleep try F.lux and if you don’t have bedtime routine look into  bedtime routines and find what relaxes you most and stick to it.

My favourite thing to do to relax is  reading. The book needs to be relatively mellow, because if it is too exciting I could end up reading for hours and that’s not good. How about you? What’s your favourite calming ritual that you do to relax before sleep?  I’d love to hear! Let me know in the comments section.

With love & simplicity,

Nyamka