1.0 Setting the Scene

Welcome Back!

You’re in the home straight, 3 sessions to go including this.

Before we begin, how have things been?

Before We Begin START 10 MINUTE TIMER

Last week we looked at Distraction Techniques, Positive Psychology and Social Media.

This week we’re going to look at Habits, Small Changes & Big Impact and Problem Solving Solutions.

Before we go any further let’s do our Drill Review for last week.

- Did you use any of your distraction techniques throughout the week?
- How did you find putting your phone on aeroplane mode one-two hours before bed each night?

Your life today is essentially the sum of your habits. Habits are behaviours that have been repeated enough times to become automatic. To work on our self-improvement, we must think about our habits.

Why is it so much easier to repeat bad habits than to build new ones? They seem to make little difference on any given day and yet the impact they deliver over the months and years can be enormous!

It is only when looking back years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones become noticeable. We often dismiss small changes because they don’t seem to matter very much. For example, if you go to the gym three times in one week, your body is not going to be much different by the end of that week.

Because of this, we make a few changes, but the results never seem to come quickly enough and so we can slide back into our previous routines. A slight consistent change in our daily habits can guide our life to a very different destination.

Can you think of any habits you have? Try to think of at least three good habits and two bad habits. Discuss with your mentor now, then write them down.

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Habits are a double edged sword and bad habits can cut you down just as easily as good habits can build you up!

The Habit Loop:
Breaking habits down into four fundamental steps can help us understand what a habit is, how it works and how to improve it.

The Cue:
Triggers our brain to initiate a behaviour based on primary and secondary rewards e.g. food and water (primary) and power, love and friendship (secondary). Your brain is continuously seeking out your internal and external environment for rewards. This leads to craving.

Craving:
The motivational force behind the habit. You crave the change in state the habit delivers e.g. you do not crave coffee but the buzz it gives you after consumption. The thoughts, feelings and emotions of the observer are what transform a cue into a craving.

Response:
The actual habit you perform which can take the form of a thought or an action.

Reward:
The end goal of every habit. The cue is about noticing the possibility of reward. The craving is about wanting the reward. The response is about obtaining the reward.

💡We chase rewards because they satisfy us (even if only temporarily) and they teach us.

Choose one bad habit and apply it to the habit loop to break it down.

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Now choose one good habit and apply it to the same habit loop.

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💡 Improving yourself by 1 percent per day isn’t always noticeable, but it can be far more meaningful, especially in the long run. If you can get 1 percent better each day for 365 days, you will end up 37 times better by the time you’re done. This is why it is important we are mindful of our habits.

Think back to week 1 when you explored the goals you wish to achieve. Do your habits support you towards your goals? Do your habits enhance the likelihood that you will achieve your goals? Have a quick chat with your mentor.

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💡The most effective ways to change your habits is to not focus on what you want to achieve, but who you want to become.

Some of the ways we can break bad habits and build healthy ones include:

- Identify your triggers
- Make the bad habit invisible - eg. hide cues
- Make the bad habit unsatisfying
- Make a bad habit hard to satisfy

- Envision breaking the habit
- Focus on what you want to change
- Ask for help and support
- Set yourself reminders
- Prepare for slip ups - they will happen
- Let go of the all-or-nothing Twisted Thinking
- Start very small

- Make it very easy to achieve
- Have someone help to make you accountable for your habits
- Change your environment
- Practice self-care
- Motivate yourself with rewards for success
- Give it time!

Small Changes, Big Impact! is a concept fundamentally concerned with our ability to carry out activity planning whilst gradually making significant changes. This is important because it is:

- A key part of helping us feel better.
- About finding a balance between having too much and too little to do.
- Taking things at a pace that will inspire and challenge us but not be overwhelming.

Remember the Vicious Cycle? How we respond to negative events, thoughts or feelings can have an impact on our behavioural responses. Take this example from Charlotte:

“When feeling sad, down and hopeless and the way I have been feeling has been bothering me, I find myself going to my room where I close the door and lie on my bed. In doing this, I just repeatedly think a lot and usually feel worse.”

Rather than going to her bedroom and letting problematic thinking take over, Charlotte could try using a distraction technique or engaging in an activity that makes her feel better such as taking her dog Pablo for a walk around her favourite park.

I guess you have an idea of activities that make you feel better and worse now?

Activity planning is an important part of making us feel better. It is essential we find a balance between having too much and too little to do. Taking things at a pace that will inspire and challenge us but not be overwhelming is important.

Name 3 activities that make you feel worse.

Name 3 activities that make you feel better.

START 3 MINUTE TIMER

Being mindful about what makes us feel worse and what makes us feel better is a great way of taking control of how low, worried and stressed we feel. If we can engage in more of what makes us feel better and avoid what makes us feel worse, we will naturally feel a lot more uplifted, optimistic, calm and confident.

Working on distraction techniques can be useful when we are looking to make small changes with big impacts.

💡Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results - James Clear (Author of Atomic Habits)

CBT can help us to think differently about our situation and understand the patterns of our thoughts, feelings and actions. Despite this, life can still cause us to suffer and things happen to us which are not a consequence of ‘negative thinking’.

There is a difference between problems we can solve and ones we can’t solve.

It is very easy to become overwhelmed by problems that we are having. Sometimes working through our problems can be a very simple and helpful technique to make us feel better.

Problem Solving Solutions

Problem-solving solutions consist of 5 stages we can follow below:

Stage 1: Break problems or stressful tasks down into more manageable parts.

Stage 2: Write down / mind-map to understand and work out solutions. Get the problem out of your head and down on paper so you can see it more clearly!

Stage 3: Pros and cons of solutions. Are these achievable and will they lead to a satisfactory outcome?

Stage 4: What do you need to achieve this? How long will it take? Do you need help?

Stage 5: Review how it went. Were there difficulties? Was it successful?

If further work is required, repeat step 4 with other steps in order to achieve your aim. If you are still struggling with your problem, perhaps look at other solutions you could investigate in step 3.

Now, to put this into action. First of all, what is a problem you have recently experienced?

Spend some time now breaking down this problem as if it had just happened.

Stage 1: Break down the problem or task into smaller more manageable parts

Stage 2: Write down or mind-map to understand and work out solutions.

Stage 3: Pros and cons of solutions. Are these achievable and will they lead to a satisfactory outcome?

Stage 4: What do you need to achieve this? How long will it take? Do you need help?

Stage 5: Review how it went. Were there difficulties? Was it successful?

How did you find this exercise? Did you find it useful to break one big problem into more manageable solutions?

Session Summary

This week we covered the importance of habits and how they can have a huge effect on the quality of our life. We looked at how making small changes to our life can create a big impact on our overall experiences and wellbeing. We touched on problem solving solutions and how we can break problems down to make them more manageable. Finally we focused a little on goal setting.

Mini Mindfulness

Drills

Activity Planning - make time for an activity which makes you feel better.

Practice using the problem-solving solutions five stage method we have covered in this session to at least one problem you face this week.

What are you grateful for? 🙏
Write this down now.
✍️

❤️ Everyday, I can grow by at least 1%. I am committed to making the person I am today an improvement of who I was yesterday.