Most leaders in our struggle with Covid-19 believe that once our country opens up for business after the present “Stay home/Stay safe”, we will recognize that there will be a “new normal” to which we will have to adjust. It’s amazing that this year, there have been three new books on habits, books on forming small, easy habits have appeared this year 2020: Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg, The Habit Switch by Romney Nelson, and Mini-Habits by Logan Williamson. Up till now, there might have been about a single book a year on new habits, but one of the most popular recently was Charles Duhigg’s (2014) The Power of Habits: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.
Duhigg delves into the neuroscience of habit, claiming that “at some point we deliberately choose a habit and then stop thinking about it but continue to do it, often every day. We stop making a choice and the behavior becomes automatic; it’s a natural consequence of our neurology.” There is no doubt that today’s stories of coping with covid-19 is causing consequences of our neurology to push us into choices of how we will deal with isolation, fear of contagion, and cautiously approaching others. Duhigg majored in history at Yale and earned his MBA from Harvard Business School and also wrote on the science of productivity.
This year’s authors are likewise renowned individuals.
BJ Fogg holds a Ph.D. in Behavioral Design, founded the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University and has counseled some 40,000 persons in behavior modification such as weight loss, stress, sleep, achieving goals as well as coaching industry innovators in how human behavior really works; he has created the Tiny Habit Academy for people around the world. Fogg’s behavior formula: “make it easy, make it fit your life, and make it rewarding.”
Romney Nelson is a personal trainer and coach / head faculty in Australian schools and national athletic programs, and is a Leading Australian Habit Change expert. His mantra for building good habits is “The STOP>REVIEW>PIVOT and POWER system” that has 8 steps to establish desired habits.
Logan Williamson is a licensed professional counselor in New Orleans. “Habits in your life are very much like the foundations of a building. You can’t just build a house and leave it to chance that the ground will hold it up, come what may. The same is true for habits. They must be built and with intention to.”
Though each of these authors approach their tiny, mini, and habit switch differently, we will have to choose how we re-format our lives to make sense for ourselves. After living in social isolation with little chance to get out and move around, we soon feel out of touch with reality. This might be a taste of how disconnected we might feel if our sight and hearing were shut down. In experiments, scientists have shown how soon we even begin to hallucinate.
There is a very short article on sensory deprivation that can give us an appreciation of what our people in today’s stay-at-home restrictions have caused in our brains to some degree of truth.
Sensory deprivation can trigger confusion and disorientation. This is why we lose track of what day it is or be confused if we are home or at work or feel cooped up and need to get out. This impacts our mental calm and sense of self.
To deal with this challenge to government restrictive directives in an attempt to slow down and even stop the Covid-19 plague, we must build new habits, which will be little, multiple structures to get us through the day. This must be done with involved attention to position what’s important for each of us.
How do we divide our day according to meals, allowing time to plan and prepare what and when we eat. If there is medication involved, when are these distributed according to time. What about exercise? Just sitting is one of the worst things a person can do to deteriorate one’s well-being. The stay-at-home restriction does allow for taking walks or shooting baskets in the backyard. What can be done for relaxation after time working one’s job on the computer while home?
As we reconstruct our new life – our new normal – what new habits must we build to stay mentally and physically well? Any one of the books listed above will give some ideas. However, it comes down to each of us doing what seems easily doable in a personal way. The list of books emphasize small choices of behavior, something like building one’s life with little Lego pieces till we have built a small, usable tool or toy we can enjoy.
Even when businesses and schools and churches open, we will still have to be alert and cautious. It is thought that we might continue to keep some kind of “social distance” and use face masks for fear of a resurgence of the virus. This is why small, tiny, mini habits can help us navigate the new normal.
As always, we will get through this by our mutual support and inventiveness. Stay strong; stay intentional. Stay in the present, one moment at a time.