Last week at the dinner table my family and I started comparing our screen time right now with two months ago. We were all mortified to see how much more time we were spending online. As I am very aware of the negative effects that social media can have on us, I always try to limit how much I use it. Usually, I can stay off my phone quite well, but right now it feels as though social media is the only way to have some sort of connection to life outside lockdown. Maybe I am just desperately trying to clasp on to any excuse to validate my apparent addiction. But a little asking around with friends and family proved that many of us seem to be faced with the same problem. So this week I dived into habit-creation research. Because the great thing about habits is that you can unlearn all of them. It’s difficult but possible.
I don’t want you to take this article as a pressurised ‘you have so much time on your hands right now, do something useful with it.’ No, these are tough times for all of us and we're into being gentle with ourselves. How you decide to spend your time is completely up to you. There is no right or wrong. But if you, like me, have realised that your screen time has gone through the roof and you want to spend your time with more intent, purpose and be more mindful? Then I'm yo' girl.
The thing about habits is, that the bad ones are so easy to adopt, while the good ones are difficult to form and stick to. Because our brains are hard-wired to prefer the path of least resistance we often make choices that require little effort. Even if they negatively affect us. So what are some ways that we can kick off our unhealthy online habits? Create better offline ones. How? Like this…
1. Understand what is holding you back
People who want to create good habits understand what is holding them back. Instead of making a statement like ‘I am addicted to my phone’, break your habit down into smaller pieces. Understand what areas are keeping you from changing your patterns. Once you understand the specific parts of the process that hold you back, you can begin to develop a solution to the problem.
For example. I am not addicted to my phone. I just use it for a lot of different things. Most importantly, as an alarm clock, which means I bring it to bed with me every evening. The temptation is always too big to then quickly send that one text to a friend. And oh, let me just set a reminder to buy bananas for the banana bread I am making tomorrow (yes, I caved under the pressure of my friends’ Instagram stories with the most magnificent examples). And before I know it, I’ve spent two hours watching TikTok videos. Not great. I also use my phone when I go on a run to track my progress. I use it to listen to music. To look at recipes when I'm cooking dinner. And my meditation app is also running over hours. The list is endless. Which brings me to my second point…
2. Set boundaries for yourself
Now that we understand where our habits come from, it’s time to set some boundaries. I have realised that I should buy an old school alarm clock. I spend most of my time on social media after nine o’clock. If I stop myself from bringing my phone to bed, I can use that time to read a book instead. To meditate. To really ease myself into sleeping, without a surge of the perilous blue light that's keeping me up.
3. Create (realistic & achievable) routines
It’s proven that it takes about 66 days to learn a habit. The first few days of unlearning one are the most difficult. Like I said, our brains our wired to prefer the path of least resistance. But stick it out for two months and you are golden.
4. Reward yourself when you achieve a goal
Rewards are exceptionally important in habit creation. Research tells us that habits without rewards are useless. Because if the reward fails to satisfy your desire, you have no reason to do it again in the future. Maybe your reward would be to have more time on your hands for your hobbies (hello cooking/ painting/ walking), or that you sleep better. But external rewards are great as well.
With all this purposeful time now on our hands, we're going to be flexing our culinary creativity. You want in? We've got your back. Order one of our fresh fruit, veg and grocery boxes to challenge yourself to create goodness from our surprise boxes.
Written By Danique Van Leeuwenstijn