I ran across this article the other day which discussed the addiction that most Americans have with their cell phones.
80% check their phones within the first 10 minutes of getting out of bed, 62% sleep with their phones and 70% use their phones while on the TOILET!!!! EEEEWWW
The funny thing is I can relate to several of the cell phone behaviors listed in the article..obviously not the toilet one, but I do use my phone as an alarm clock and tend to check the weather and my Oura ring sleep activity while I am brushing my teeth first thing in the morning. .
The point is we are addicted to our cell phones and most don’t know why.
As we are winding down in 2021, with hopes of a better 2022, most of us are going to set some type of New Year’s resolution or goals.
But how do you do this? without feeling like a complete failure once February rolls around and you are not doing what you said you would do or accomplish?
The Kaizen principle of starting small can help you. It basically says that you pick something that is so small and easy that it makes it almost impossible to fail, or not do.
In a prior blog I discussed several ways to build new habits or break existing negative ones but I thought I would revisit some of the key principles.
So, if you are already thinking about change and want to kick 2022 off on a good start then this is for you. These tips are especially helpful if you are wondering how to recover from covid. To make it happen the first thing you want is a quick win.
Why do you want a quick win?
Dopamine, that is why! What is dopamine? It is a chemical (neurotransmitter) that your brain produces which gives you a feeling of pleasure and reward. It creates a small moment of happiness and reinforces the behavior. This is what happens when we check our phones early in the morning.
Let’s say you wake up and check Facebook. You see that someone has liked your post or made a positive comment, this results in a dopamine hit, which encourages you to continue checking your phone throughout the day.
It is a natural reward system. However the body doesn’t know if it is really good for us or not.
Checking your phone is a great example because so many of us are addicted to it but ask yourself is checking your phone really doing anything for you? Is it making you a better person? My guess is that it is not.
Given that the average person checks their phone 262 times a day (once every 5.5 minutes) it is not a stretch to say most are addicted to their phones.
Each time we look at our device a small hit of dopamine takes place, similar to a drug addict. The developers of smartphones, apps and social media all know about dopamine and they spend extensive amounts of money to make these devices more addictive.
Now that you have a better understanding of dopamine and the motivation, reward and reinforcement cycle I want to give you a way to create your own dopamine hit by accomplishing a small healthy goal that is good for you. How?
Don’t break the chain!
For those that have been around for awhile you know that I am a huge Seinfeld fan. In fact it was Seinfeld that got me through PT school. Several classmates and I would gather every Thursday night to watch the hit TV show and blow off some steam, but Jerry Seinfeld has a rather ingenious and simple tip for building a new habit.
Don’t break the chain. Simply grab a calendar and place a red X over the day once you complete your habit. The goal is to then string together a series of red X’s and not let the streak end.
Here is a simple example.
One way to help your covid recovery, boost your health and immune system is to simply move.
Ideally you should build up to move or exercise for 30 minutes up to 6 days a week but if you are not currently doing anything then that can seem very overwhelming. If you set such a big goal then you are setting yourself up for failure.
Instead, set a goal to walk for 1-2 minutes. Yes this seems almost too easy and you are probably asking yourself will this 1-2 min walk do me any good physically. The short answer is no, not for your overall health but yes in terms of working to build the habit of walking daily.
When you want to start something new or change a habit it needs to be a very small step to begin with. Actually the smaller the better. It should be something that when you say it out loud or tell your friend they will laugh and say that it won’t work–but it will.
Some of the top researchers on building habits actually recommend
- Start small– make the first step a tiny as possible
- Attach your new habit to something you are already doing. Example: You set a goal of doing push ups but haven’t done one since high school. You could then make it your goal to start with “wall push ups” and do only one every time you finish using the bathroom. You want to anchor your new habit to something you are already doing
- Track your progress–this could be with a pen and paper or with one of the several habit tracking apps available. One I like is called Habit Minder–it lets you set up habits related to nutrition (drinking water) exercising (walking) or meditation. You can set goals and reminders. Don’t break the chain.
- Have an accountability partner– this is someone who is actually doing the habit change with you. Research shows that it is easier to build a habit if you have someone that is not only holding you accountable but is also “walking in your shoes” ie they are doing the new habit with you.
So how long does it take to build a habit? That is a very good question and although there are various opinions out there that range from 21 days to 66 days I personally believe that it varies from person to person and is also tied to desire and the size of the habit change.
The key is to not get discouraged. Keep trying and if you don’t meet your goal one day, try the next. Giving up after you failed one day is like slashing 3 good tires on your car after you discovered the 4th one was flat. We will all face challenges and setbacks; the key is to keep moving forward. Look to see if there was something that interfered with your ability to reach your goal that day and figure out what you can do to prevent it from happening again.
Next steps: decide what habit you want to either start or stop doing. Figure out what is the smallest step you can take to get some progress and momentum. Track your progress and find someone to share it with and will preferably build the new habit with you.
If you are looking for more information on how to recover from covid, boost your immune system, build healthy habits and thrive during these challenging times then I have a gift for you.
NEXT ACTION:I have created a special Tool Kit for the readers of my blog. To get your FREE tool kit simply call our office 817-220-6677 to request the 100% FREE Covid-19 Survival Tool Kit. Or you can request it by visiting https://www.springtownphysicaltherapy.com/covid-recovery
Or if you have some issues and would like a personalized plan, start by calling 817-220-6677 today to schedule your FREE NO OBLIGATION Discovery Visit.
To your health,
Dr. Robert Moss PT, ScD, OCS, FAAOMPT