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How to Establish Effective Habits – Reduce Overwhelm & Anxiety

            If you were guaranteed to receive a million dollars by exercising three days a week for five years, would you persevere for that time length?  I am guessing most people would make a considerable effort knowing what they would get at the end.  It’s not knowing what one will get or how long it will take to reach a goal or noticeable change that causes agitation.  For instance, if an individual were to exercise three days a week for five years, without money serving as a motivator, this person undoubtedly would see the benefit to their physical and mental health. 

           The problem is most people know that exercise will benefit their health and yet still do not participate in regular physical activity.  In a 2019 OnePoll survey, 63 percent of Americans admitted that their lack of exercising regularly would shorten their life span.

           The idea that one’s mortality does not inspire most Americans to exercise consistently speaks to a larger truth about the human mind.  Our distractions in life can completely distort the way we view the big picture.  Also, no matter how reasonable the obstacles (family obligations, work, lack of convenience), the ability to live out our existence with the highest quality of life, for as long as possible, should come near the top of our priorities.  One cannot work or take care of their family if they are sick.  Nor do most people want to burden their family prematurely with medical conditions.  Therefore, coming to terms with the way most Americans deal with distractions, comes down how we choose to spend the time available to us.

            The number one reason most people say why they don’t exercise, is lack of time. However, this is just another way to say “I don’t want to do it!” Because, fact is, whatever we really want to do, we WILL find time.  We tend to fill up our days with activities that we tend to do over and over; as well as our number of commitments into different areas keeps growing as we age. After a while, we become comfortable with being uncomfortable and are not willing to make any major changes to disrupt our current way of life. The very idea of “change” causes for many restlessness in the mind; so the answer becomes, we do what we’ve always done.

Stop Your Restlessness in its Tracks

Developing the steps to cope with restlessness reverts back to our acceptance of human limitations.  Given a menu with multiple choices, our mind struggles to choose due to having too many options.  Similarly, there are only twenty-four hours in a day, so deciding what we commit to can lead to doing what we have always done.  Therefore, the logical conclusion is that it is a trade-off, and one will have to give up certain activities to achieve progress. 

Restlessness manifests due to wanting to complete everything one wants to accomplish or desiring to do it in a certain amount of time or wishing things were easier, or any number of alternative justifications for not changing.  These are all internal wants, not external realities; therefore, this means one has the choice to exert some control over how the mind processes such desires.

            The issue comes down to determining it is us, our inner drives, that is causing the angst. The anxiety manifesting itself is not entirely under our control, but can we develop more skill on how to respond with wisdom to the stimuli causing this?  The perceived obstacles are not the ultimate issue; no goal worthwhile happens quickly.  The ability to see our capacity to make matters worse is the critical component.  There are no guarantees even if you do all the health-benefiting habits and behaviors, tragedy could still strike.  However, the ability to not make life more regrettable does reside within our grasp.  Remembering this paradox of the mind can help you take the first step forward: do not let restlessness in the moment lead you to do what you have always done.

Here are four steps you can take to stop your restless tendencies:

  1. Awareness

    Catch yourself being in restless mode.

  2. STOP!

    Stop what you are doing.
  3. Explore

    What am I restless about? Do I really need to do all of these or am I swept away again by my old habits?

  4. Detach

Choose your own activities and outcomes you want to focus on; vs. allowing yourself to fall back into “doing what you’ve always done.”

Did you recognize any of the restlessness symptoms described above, in your daily life? If yes, make sure to follow the above simple (or rather, simple looking) steps, and you should see a major shift on how your days will unfold, experiencing more control and more “purposefulness” on how you spend your time. Make sure to connect with me on LinkedIn and hit the Follow button to be notified of my future articles:

Vertis Williams is a Positive Habits Life Coach and a Mindfulness Trainer. He is a regular presenter at employee and team-development events. Contact him to request more info on his Workshops or on his Coaching Services! Click HERE to Request a Complimentary Habit Coaching Session!

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