Replacing Unproductive Habits

How much time do you spend checking social media each day? According to an article posted in The Telegraph, the average person spends 1 hour and 40 minutes per day checking social media, across 5 different types of social media accounts. Clearly this has been ingrained as a habit.

A habit is defined as ‘an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it becomes almost involuntary’ ( Some of the habits we establish early in life may literally save our lives and it is hard to imagine life without them- putting on the seat belt or looking both ways before crossing the street come to mind.

And then there are the bad habits- smoking or drinking, angry responses to minor inconveniences, or even violence.

In the middle, though, between those two extremes are a slew of habits that do not necessarily accomplish anything, they just waste time- watching television and most anything done on a phone, to mention a couple. These things can easily move from entertainment to counter-productive, time-wasting habits. Maybe they are not harmful on the surface, but when positive actions such as exercise, spending quality time with children, other family, or friends, or projects related to work/home are replaced by television and social media- the slow decline to ‘harmful’ begins and may lead one to a state of poor health, neglected relationships, and/or unemployment.

The great thing about negative habits is that they can be replaced with positive ones- all it takes is a little motivation and accountability. Most habits are triggered by something. Even the positive habits we engage in are triggered- we put our seat belts on when we get in the car, so getting in a car is the trigger. Likewise, the negative habit of wasting time on social media is likely triggered by something- stress of some sort, boredom, or sitting at a traffic light.

In the latter situation, there is not much that can be done, as you are trapped in a vehicle. But in the former two, it is relatively easy to replace the social media habit with a more positive one when the triggers of stress or boredom arise at home. Rather than succumbing to this time-sucking habit, why not work on developing a habit that promotes well-being. Your actions and habits should act as faucets, not drains- meaning they should fill you up, not deplete you.

Rather than wasting 5 minutes on social media, how about spending 5 minutes doing simple physical activity? The next time you find yourself bored or stressed and reaching for that phone, start moving instead! Here are four quick and simple 5-minute workouts that if done consistently, will increase cardiovascular and muscular endurance- two outcomes that will improve health and well-being, and for that reason are certainly a more valuable use of time than stalking people on Facebook! Start a timer and get going!

  1. For 5 minutes, alternate between the following:
  • Walk or move quickly up a flight of stairs
  • Perform a Wall Sit at the top for 30 seconds
  • Walk back down the stairs under control
  • Perform an elbow plank at the bottom for 30 seconds
  1. For 5 minutes, alternate between the following:
  • Perform 10 push-ups
  • Perform 16 alternating forward lunges (8 each)
  1. For 5 minutes, alternate between the following:
  • Skip in place or dynamically for 30 foot contacts (15 each)
  • Sit down and stand up repeatedly from a study chair 15 times
  1. For 5 minutes, alternate between the following:
  • Find something moderately heavy, press it up and down over your head 10 times
  • Perform 5 squat thrusts

Remember, you are a sum of all of your habits. If your habits are mostly positive and fulfilling, you will lead a happier and healthier life. But if your habits drain your time and energy consistently, declining health is sure to follow.



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