One of the most difficult parts of my first Whole30 in August was giving up alcohol. More specifically, giving up wine. No beer, no liquor, no problem. Take away my wine and l get a little sad.
I don’t find I miss the effects of the alcohol as much as I miss the sense of relaxation the ritual of drinking the wine provides at the end of the day. As such, giving it up in social situations isn’t nearly as difficult. (Side note: I’ve spent a great deal of time since September thinking about what this means. Thinking about other ways a few glasses of wine most evenings might be having an impact on my life. I haven’t come to any glaring conclusions yet, but its definitely something on my radar.)
Since this was such a sticking point for me last time around, I expected to experience similar feelings when I walked into my home on Monday of last week, (aka Whole30, Round 2, Day 1). For a moment I did. I felt a little excited at the prospect of a relaxing glass of Malbec, and then a little disappointed when I remembered it wasn’t in the cards. Its slightly scary and quite fascinating to me that I have this pavlonian response to walking through my door after a day of work. I open door. My brain says wine.
Knowing what I do about classical conditioning, I wondered if I could create a different thought pattern (not wine) which led to the same outcome (a relaxing ritual at the end of the day)
Last time around I would open door, my brain would say wine, and I would sulk for a bit because I couldn’t imbibe. On Whole30.2.1 I didn’t sulk. I put on water to make myself a cup of tea, and enjoyed it as I chatted with Tyler about my day and eventually cooked our dinner. On Day 2 I opened the door and instead of wine, I thought tea. Wednesday, door open – tea on brain. Same on Thursday. It wasn’t until Friday, prime Pinot Noir drinking time, that I realized this was the first time I’d thought “wine” since Monday.
And then it got me thinking even more (scary, I know!) about the possibilities to be had in this substitution method.
We all have them – automatic actions we take when our brain is triggered to do so. Walking in the door after work is the trigger. Pouring a glass of wine is the action. Sitting down to my desk after lunch is the trigger. Craving a sweet snack is the “action.” Waking up in the morning is the trigger. Making coffee is the action.
When you break it down like this, it sounds so simple. Want to change a bad habit? Change the action paired with the trigger.
I’m sticking with New Habit 1 (actually, I changed from tea to coffee, so I guess its New Habit 1, version 2) and this week I’m including New Habit 2 into my evening. Instead of plopping on the couch after the dinner dishes are done I’ll be doing 15 minutes worth of laundry. This is huge because I loathe doing laundry. I’ll put it off for as long as possible. And then it gets out of control. And then I feel out of control. And then I probably want more wine to help me relax because I’m so stressed out by the lack of control. Laundry and wine. It’s a vicious cycle.
Seriously though, if I’m going to be working on finding healthier ways to relax why not go to the source and remove a stressor, thus removing something that creates the need for relaxation in the first place??
Do you follow? Do I sound crazy?
At this point its almost like a little scientific experiment. I did it with wine and tea, now I’m trying to replicate the results with sitting on the couch being a bum and getting some clothes clean. Hypothesis is that if I pair this trigger and action together long enough Laundry After Dinner will become a part of my everyday routine.
I challenge everyone else to try this too. I’m sure almost all of us have a couple of resolutions, aka habits to change, bouncing around in our brains right about now. Start with something simple. Brush teeth-floss teeth. Walk in door-empty lunch box. Change clothes-walk dog.
Day 1 of Dishes-Laundry is complete and already I feel much more accomplished and much less out of control. (I think the coffee could be helping this too. Most likely by next week I’ll be writing about trying to break a caffeine addiction, but hey, my clothes will be clean, right?)
And for the record I do not plan on making Open Door-Drink Tea the only option after this Whole30 is over, but changing that habit now and perhaps tipping the scale in the direction of tea in the future can’t be a bad thing.
So, bring on the teabags!