A few weeks ago Dr. Nacoste sent out an email providing ‘Social Psychological Advice’ on living in this time of quarantine. He was asked by a student what he thinks of Social Distancing since, as we know from his teaching, humans are inherently social beings. ‘How will it affect us? Do you have any advice?’ the student asks. Dr. Nacoste responds with a simple but powerful message ‘Given the conditions, my advice is structure your days.’
Is it really that simple? Yes. I couldn’t agree more with Dr. Nacoste on the matter. Ever since he sent out the voice-essay I’ve been trying to follow this advice, and whenever I do I feel significantly better. On days that I don’t, well, let’s just say I agree with Dr. Nacoste that this can ‘get out of hand quick.’
What does this have to do with habits? This ‘habit change’ thing I’ve recently started is largely my attempt to keep my days both structured and exciting. The habits I am working into my days are giving my life structure and something to look forward to each day. ‘Structuring your days’ doesn’t mean you have to be doing overly demanding tasks all the time, it just means planning ahead of time so you can avoid boredom and the discomfort that comes with not knowing how to answer the question ‘what are you doing today?’ Weather it be setting time for reading, meals, movies, gaming, etc., as long as you know what you’re going to be doing you’ll feel the benefit of lessening some of that ‘free floating social anxiety’ that comes with a ‘vague situation’ like this.
This is why I encourage habit formation. If you aren’t sure what to do with your days, think of some things you might want to improve in yourself, things you want to learn, or any personal goals you have. Then think of little things you can do everyday to get closer to those ideals and use these new habits to structure your days. Habits make up over half of all of our time, having good habits provides a foundation that fosters structure.
I will link my habit video below if you’re interested in learning more about habits and the best ways to instill them, but the bottom line is, having good habits, such as taking the time every morning to structure your days with timely tasks you enjoy, can really help ease some discomfort in this time. I know social distancing is difficult, but as Dr. Nacoste has let us know, this kind of ‘focus and agenda’ is critical in ‘protect(ing) our vulnerable psychology.’
Until next time
Let’s Stay Psyched about Habit Change,