BY AMITAV BANERJI
When classes start to get harder we as students tend to prioritize our academics over our physical and mental health. As my classes started to get harder during my third year, I started to lose touch with my friends and I stopped socializing. This made me resent my classes which not only affected my grades but also changed my behavior towards the people in my life. I tried to manage my time, but no matter how hard I tried I always felt exhausted at the end of the day. That’s when I realized it is more important to manage my energy rather than my time and the first step is to create good habits.
The first question I had to answer was, “what makes a habit?”. After some research, I understood that a habit is created when we create a habit loop in our brains. The habit loop consists of three elements: a cue, a routine, and a reward. The cue for a habit can be anything that triggers the habit. Cues most generally fall under the following categories: a location, a time of day, other people, an emotional state, or an immediately preceding action. The routine for a habit is the most obvious part of the habit. It signifies the motions you need to go through to complete a habit. If you have a habit of exercising, the act of running on the treadmill is your routine. Lastly, the reward is what you gain from doing the habit. It could be the endorphins you get from working out or the enjoyment you get after eating a Kit Kat bar in the morning.
Turns out there is a fourth step to the habit loop called the craving. This fourth step is what allows a habit to become a daily occurrence in our lives. We go through the same motions every day because we crave the reward that comes with a habit. As we continue to practice our habits, our brains start to crave the cue rather than the reward which is what allows habits to become ingrained in our lives. Once I understood this I introduced good habits into my daily routine. The first habit I introduced was that of meditation, and I practiced it at the same time every single day.
Soon enough, my entire day was filled with good habits and I started to notice a change in my life. Bad habits tend to take up energy but good habits re-energize you throughout the day. My good habits allowed me to act on opportunities rather than react to situations that took place on a daily basis. This allowed me to choose what I spent my energy on. Once I started to manage my time better, my grades, as well as my social life, improved, and once again I started to enjoy my time at university.
(Originally published November 6, 2019)