Soda Free April – wrap up

Other

So, I did the challenge, but failed at doing regular updates. Whoops. In any case, here’s what went down:

  • I had coke twice – once on day 5 which I posted about, and another time I accidentally ordered a coke with a takeaway. I went a few days before drinking it, and found it crazy sweet.
  • I was extremely busy during April, and ended up eating out a lot for lunch, and – well, this is probably where things went wrong. I still craved a carbonated drink, or some kind of sugary drink, so oftentimes I’d buy flavoured water and stuff. It’s not terrible, but I wasn’t exactly trying to prioritise water instead.
  • I definitely ate worse overall, mitigating any impact of the soda stuff.
  • I’ve had a few since the challenge ended but not really enjoyed it. Part of that is because I’ve had a really bad cold this week.

As you can see, it’s a little dubious whether I can say I succeeded or not. I stuck within my rules that I set out, but I’m not sure how I did within the ‘spirit’ of the challenge.

And that’s fine! It’s been pointed out to me that going cold turkey like this isn’t sustainable for habit building and honestly, I agree. I don’t expect long term change to come from these challenges.

Instead, I like doing these month long challenges to understand myself a bit better. If I’ve got into a habit and I want to change it, which parts do I find easy or hard to change? What things trigger the habit, such as going out to lunch? What helps me stop?

Doing this for a month, you start to notice what excuses you’re likely to make, what mental gymnastics you do to get something. I clearly did a lot of them this month because what I really wanted was the carbonation – so I can think of ways around that. In short, it brings a particular area of my life into focus and I can troubleshoot habit building around those compulsions and/or addictions.

In any case, I just think it’s fun to change stuff up sometimes 🙂

I don’t have any challenge plans for May so next one will probably be June
!

Soda Free April, Day 5

Other

So… I accidentally drank a glass of coke yesterday without even thinking!!

It was hilariously automatic. I went for lunch with my colleague in the middle of some research in a shopping mall, and only halfway through did I remember. It’s mostly because I don’t eat at restaurants very frequently, so I remembered all my usual triggers but not that one. D’oh.

Oh well. I can’t undo it, so I’ll just have to carry on and remember to get water in future 🙂 …

Discomfort-zoned

Levelling Up and Productivity, Mental Fitness, Values based living

My habitual response to discomfort is to run, avoid, or to distract from the problem with something. Examples:

  • Feel anxious about work, or imposter syndrome –immediately want to leave my job and find somewhere else.
  • Feel tired or stressed: nap my problems away or watch YouTube videos until I feel better.
  • Get annoyed at a friend or situation: complain or vent about it instead of taking any action to fix it.
  • Know I should write a blog post, but I don’t feel inspired so I don’t wanna: avoid it. (admittedly I’ve been steadily writing my novel as well, but I am hardly trying to fit blogging in either)

My journey in cutting out compulsions has gotten pretty far, but I must fill my time with useful things, or I’ll start relapsing. It is in incremental steps so far, as I mentioned in my previous post about small wins: committing to the tiniest action as often as I can. Writing a paragraph, playing one scale on guitar, putting on my exercise clothes. It’s working well so far, as the act of starting usually propels me into doing more.

However, ironically, a discomfort I need to move towards is feeling like I’m ‘not doing well enough’ at moving towards discomfort! I tend to put myself down, and sometimes the struggle towards doing more comes from a feeling of inadequacy and unhappiness with my life, rather than just wanting to do more things I like.

But I’m doing fine. And I can act, and do things I value, and love myself — regardless of the discomfort that brings.

Why 2019 Will Be Awful: Cleaning Rituals

Levelling Up and Productivity, Values based living

Every New Year’s Eve, for as long as I can remember, I have cleaned my room from top to bottom, cleared out documents and thrown away items I don’t want anymore. It’s a larger version of a mini ritual I do every weekend — ‘a weekly review’ you might call it, if you’re into productivity communities. When I feel stressed at work I clean up my desk as well, or delete all my emails. A cluttered mail inbox makes my skin crawl.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to clean and minimise. Looking after your belongings and taking care of your surroundings can certainly boost your mood. A weekly review is also a useful tool to get a picture of your week and learn from your mistakes. But in my hands it’s also been a compulsive tool.

Going Warm Turkey on Phones (Weeks 4-5)

Phone Addiction, Rat Brain, Self Care

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As expected, the battle with my phone (and internet) addiction is proving to be challenging, but in ways I haven’t anticipated.

I’ve had reasonable success eliminating the smaller, less anxiety inducing times I use my phone, such as not using it while walking or on the loo or something (I know, I know).  I use my phone considerably less at work, now, and hardly check it at all before work. However, I’ve got some time off work at the moment and it’s been difficult keeping that momentum going without the usual routine.

This has highlighted something that seems obvious, but I’m finding myself tripping over again and again — when you’re tired, hungry, hormonal or generally emotional compromised, it’s going to be easy to fall into compulsions. It is phenomenally easy to avoid doing compulsions when you feel tiptop, but if your go-to approach for uncomfortable feelings is still avoidance… You’re always going to reach for the thing that helps you avoid it.

I am exhausted right now. This is the first sliver of time I’ve had off from work since I started here, and I was beginning to get burned out. However, I need to remember that self care doesn’t mean lying like a slug in my bed all day until my muscles ache, it means not avoiding my feelings. It’s easy to tell myself that I will feel more tired, more burned out if I allow myself to feel everything, but I actually feel worse when I reach for all my addictions.

So yes, I am exhausted, but I need to take care of my little rat brain right now.

P.S. I’m almost halfway through my No Takeaway/Fast Food challenge this month. This along with tracking my phone usage has  been illuminating to say the least, about the arguments my brain makes up to justify compulsions, and what is necessary to stay on track with my values. I was just going to post week to week like with the phone stuff but I’m going to do a monthly roundup of what I learned, instead 🙂

Surprisingly it’s gone far better than this phone challenge, and taught me numerous things about compulsions and sticking to values so… Maybe cold turkey isn’t so bad!