Do you often find yourself stuck in a spiral of bad habits like checking your phone, watching Netflix, reaching for the block of chocolate, or whatever it is that you do? Glennon Doyle has a really good way of looking at this, and she calls it pressing easy buttons and reset buttons.
We all have 'easy buttons' that we push when we don't want to feel our feelings. They are the actions we take when we don't want to feel our pain or stress. Whether those feelings are boredom, anxiety, agitation, anger, fear, frustration, sadness or something else.
You'll know when you've pushed one because afterwards, you won't feel better. In her book, Glennon says "It has taken me forty years to decide that when I feel bad, I want to do something that makes me feel better instead of worse".
My go-to easy button is scrolling social media. Sometimes I don't even realise that I'm doing it. I have made a list of easy buttons that live on a post it note next to my desk.
What are your easy buttons? Make a list and be aware of them. Don't get me wrong, you can definitely still press the easy buttons. But do so by being aware of it, not just pressing them mindlessly.
Next, make a list of 'reset buttons'. These are the things that you know will make you feel better. I got a message from a girl doing my online programme last week that said this: "Just did one of your yoga sessions instead of scrolling social media! Feel so much better". ...Winning!!
These reset buttons aren’t massive actions. It doesn’t take much to push reset. Here are my top three reset buttons.
- Drink a glass of water and take 5 deep breaths. Often, you might be having a bad day and you might think that you need to change your career or that you need to quit sport or go on a silent retreat, but in reality, all you need to do is push a reset button, have a glass of water and take some deep breaths.
- Turn off your phone notifications, shut yourself in a quiet space and sit in stillness. From the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed, it’s all go. We are bombarded with information, and that doesn’t help an already anxious mind. I’ve found that sitting still for ten minutes to practise meditation, mindfulness, or just sitting still and observing my thoughts has a profound impact on my ability to come back more calm and focused.
- 20 minutes lying with your feet up the wall. This is actually the equivalent to a couple of hours of sleep in terms of the effect it has on your energy levels. Because you are draining your lymphatic fluid down your legs, and your blood flows more rapidly to your vital organs, it has a massive effect on your body (and mind). So instead of maybe wanting an extra cup of coffee at 3pm, maybe you can try putting your legs up the wall.
Once you have your two lists, just know that you're never going to be perfect. I am definitely not! You're always going to want to reach for those easy buttons. But the first step is just to actually identify these two lists and acknowledge how you choose to spend your time. At a corporate workshop recently, a lady put her hand up when I was explaining this concept and she said, “but is it always bad to reach for those easy buttons? Sometimes it’s just what I feel like and need. I don’t want to be good all of the time!”
To which I replied, “of course you can reach for those easy buttons occasionally! The key difference is that you are consciously choosing to do it, rather than do it on auto pilot without realising it. Another important thing to ask yourself is, “Is what I’m about to do going to make me feel better?” It’s all about balance, and making the choice that is best for you at the time. P.s. There’s always tomorrow to start again, right?
Here are a few of my reset buttons, feel free to copy or create your own list!
10 minute walk
5 minute stretch
1 glass of water
5 deep breaths
10 minutes mindfulness
1 phone call to a loved one
10 minutes with my dog
30 minutes yoga
20 minutes legs up the wall
3 things you're grateful for
20 minute nap
1 page journalling