Is it possible that our “bad habits” actually nurture us in some way? Usually there is so much shame and scrutiny about our unhealthy rituals, we don’t see how they are actually contributing to our wellbeing.
Many years ago, I was dating someone who was going through a stressful time in his life. He took up smoking American Spirits a few times per day. He was very health conscious and not a smoker when we met. As a former asthmatic, smoke is not my friend and that would have been a deal breaker in terms of the relationship. I had never even been around someone who smoked, so this was a new experience for me.
We spent a lot of time together, so when he went to smoke his cigarettes, I would go outside with him. We would sit and chat on the patio for ten to fifteen minutes. A few months passed. It wasn’t a big deal until… he stopped smoking.
I missed our time together, but it was more than that. I watched my discontent grow, and I sat with it. I didn’t just miss our conversations, I missed going outside, taking a break, and connecting with someone. I now felt true compassion for smokers. I get it!
You go outside.
You talk with some friends.
You consciously relax for a few minutes.
It feels good! It feels damn good. And it’s not just about the nicotine or drug of choice because I wasn’t the one smoking. I still fondly remember those times. Most importantly, I don’t judge people who smoke. I feel for them, and I ask questions, like: How can we create healthy rituals?
Why can’t we just get up from our desks and go outside to take a break a few times a day? Do we have to have a reason or an activity associated with the break? Think about this...How do our so-called “bad habits” serve our wellbeing? They all benefit us somehow or we wouldn’t engage in the activity.
Relieving shame around our “bad habits” and looking for the wisdom can sometimes facilitate healing better than just stopping cold turkey. While guilt can point to something that needs to change, it is not a healing emotion. In the stress of the modern world, we need things during our day to look forward to.
I have a friend who worked 13-hour shifts in a restaurant, and got so fed up that only the smokers got to go outside to take breaks that she started going outside for two-minute NOT smoke breaks. Sometimes you have to go against the grain or piss off your boss to take care of yourself. It's worth it.
We need things that make us feel alive.
Parenting, for instance, has turned me into a coffee drinker. I used to be a green tea drinker (and still am). But parenting is a game changer. It is intense, and I needed a beverage to match the intensity of this new phase of my life. Tea is just too soft for what we have going on! The coffee feels good to me, just a cup or two, and I am a happier mother and wife, but most importantly, my husband and I take time to connect. We sit down and enjoy our coffee together. It is a nice way to start the day.
Human beings are wired for rituals, so much so that I think rituals and stress-relieving activities find us…our responsibility is to be co-creators in this process. I am not delusional. Smoking and drinking pots of coffee are not the answers.
Here are some of the habits I have established in my life that both facilitate my wellbeing and are enjoyable:
Having a cup of tea mid-day.
Taking time to prepare and eat my meals.
Drinking a Live Soda Kombucha in the afternoon.
Bathing with my child at night.
Reading before I go to bed.
These are the things sprinkled throughout my day that nourish me. I would love to hear what nourishes you. How have you designed your life to honor your vitality and have fun in the process? Let’s learn together…and find a deep compassion for these “bad habits” we have.
Eat in Peace and Live in Peace!