Improving mental and emotional health: habits

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been looking at our mental and emotional health, with the aim of getting us to assess where we each are mentally and emotionally. There’s a very thin line between being mentally & emotionally healthy and being unhealthy. One of the best things you can do for yourself this year is to take your overall health seriously, and this includes your mental and emotional health.

You owe this to yourself, you need to be well put together in order to be in the position to be able to achieve all your goals for 2019.

Being mentally & emotionally healthy doesn’t mean that your life will be void of challenges or difficulties. Life by virtue of what it is means that at one point or the other you’ll encounter some degree of challenges. Your goal however should be that, you develop skills and coping mechanisms that equip you to handle whatever it is that this life throws at you.

I have come to the realization that, one of the things that ails us are our habits, habits have a way of unconsciously and unknowingly creeping in on us. Habits just grow in on you in such a subtle manner that many a time it goes unnoticed. And in my practice as a counsellor, I can say that a percentage of issues that people present in counselling stems from habits they’ve developed over a period of time.

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Let’s then take a look at what a habit is and the various types and how we can eventually cope and break these habits. A habit is basically something you are used to doing, you keep on doing it, you try to stop but you can’t. It ranges from the very simple ones such as skipping breakfast, to cracking your knuckles and the more complex habits such as gambling, watching porn etc.

Habits like most things in life can be either negative or positive depending on the outcome. The outcome will either be beneficial to you or cause some degree of harm to you.

A Negative habit is something you find yourself doing even though it destroys you while a

Positive habit is something you do routinely that enables you to live a more productive life.

Ironically, good/positive habits are harder to start than to put off; while bad/negative habits are easier to start than to shut down. This is because many things feed these habits that end up making them take deep root in our lives making it extremely difficult to break free.

The things that feed bad habits are;

  • Repeated actions
  • Familiar Settings
  • Routines (second nature) things we do repeatedly
  • Reinforcing culture

Once you’re able to identify the things that feed the bad habits, it’s easier to begin the process of breaking free from these bad habits that only seek destroy our lives.That’s not to say that once you’ve identified what feeds your bad habits you’re home

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Breaking bad habits

“Old habits die hard”, is a popular adage, it might seem like a daunting task, when you think about breaking bad habits. In breaking bad habits; you need to understand how a particular habit works. This is done by identifying the circumstance that cues it, the motivation that drives it, and the objective it seeks to accomplish.

The three A’s of retiring a bad habit are:

  • Acknowledgement of the habit’s negative consequences; its killing you just admit it
  • Affirmation of commitment to change; tell yourself “am well able to stop this”.
  • An Alternative way to react when the old temptation arises; when the urge to smoke arises grab a lollipop instead and take a walk.

If you want to end a habit, don’t try to stop it; start planning and practicing an alternative behaviour to resort to when the temptation to repeat the old pattern arises.

Seek help, if it’s getting out of control. Am here

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