(1.4) Pause to Practice

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Congratulations, you’ve made it to the practice session for the first section of the course!

  1. Print out this Needs Inventory. Read the list slowly. Pay attention to how your chest and stomach feel as you read each one, how your breathing changes and any other body sensation. Circle the needs that are routinely being met. Underline the ones that aren’t being met. Consider this list as you do the exercises below.
  2. Habit audit. Set a timer for 5 minutes. On a full size sheet of paper, write as many of your current habits as you can think of. It helps to mentally scroll through your day and include anything that you do in a routine way or on a regular basis. If you really get into this, add another 5 minutes to the timer and continue.
    If you have trouble sleeping, take a close look at your sleep routine, the habits in the last few hours of the day.
  3. Underline the habits that you feel are healthy, i.e., they meet your needs and don’t significantly interfere with meeting other needs.
  4. Circle the habits that you would like to change.
  5. On another sheet of paper, draw 3 lines so you have 4 columns: Trigger, Habit, Consequences Needs Met, and Needs Blocked. For each habit that you circled, write some of the triggers, desirable consequence, needs met, and blocked needs (harder to meet because of that habit). For example, with smoking it would be something like:
    * Trigger: break time
    * Habit: smoke cigarette
    * Consequences: time outside, nicotine rush, talk to people
    * Needs Met: air, movement, community/belonging.
    * Blocked Needs: Rest (nicotine artificially increases energy), physical well-being (cancer risk), belonging (can be shunned by non-smokers).
  6. Pick one habit that you most want to change (if any). What are some alternate habits that would be healthier and still meet the same need? Which environmental changes will remind you to  insert a pause between the trigger and habit and redirect you to a healthier behavior? Feel free to post in the group if you’re having trouble coming up with ideas.
  7. This course is for your wellness, but also for animals in your care. Create a training plan to reinforce your behavior of engaging with this course (reading the Lessons and being active in the Facebook group). I recommend printing out a calendar as I mentioned in Lesson 2. You might also need to add a bigger reinforcer, like a nap, sitting in the sun, or access to a more established habit afterwards (say, Facebook). Come up with short term reinforcers and one big reinforcer at the end for staying active throughout the course. Share your plan in the group and put it into action.
  8. Bonus video: If you have trouble sleeping, play this video at bedtime or better yet, get the Headspace app so you don’t have any bright electronics on. I highly recommend having consistent bedtime habits, activities that cue your brain border collies that it’s time to go to sleep. Good sleep hygiene helps everything go better in life!