Like many people, I often view the new year and the Lenten season as opportunities to develop a new habit or break myself of a bad habit that negatively impacted me in the previous year. The habits and goals that I choose vary from year to year—sometimes I focus on a specific diet trend, other times it's about decluttering or setting financial goals. This year, instead of an all or nothing mentality, I'm going to try a habit reset by fasting through some of my more negative habits instead. If you're like me and share some of my excessive habits of too much screen time, unhealthy eating or excessive spending, check out these articles for inspiration on how we can all make a habit reset.
You can read these articles using CPL's Online Resources, but I've noted if an article is available freely on the web.
"Feast and Famine" by Claudia Wallis
Scientific American, September 2020 (also available on the Scientific American website)
Have you heard of the diet trend intermittent fasting? Intermittent fasting encourages people to eat food within a specific eating window rather than meal grazing throughout the day. Limited studies with animals and humans have shown possible benefits such as weight loss and improved blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
"Can Scheduled Fasting Improve Your Health?"
Harvard Women's Health Watch, May 2020 (also available on the Harvard Health Publishing website)
Not only can intermittent fasting help you shed some unwanted weight, but it can also help with cognitive function. More research is needed, but intermittent fasting works by forcing the body to use up energy and fat stores during the food fasting period. There are several ways to practice intermittent fasting, such as fasting for specific hours daily, alternating high and low calorie days, or a combination approach. Like with any dietary change, there are benefits and risks, and everyone should talk to their doctor before making any major lifestyle changes.
Dopamine and Digital Fasting
"Find Digital Balance" by Virginia Sole-Smith
Parents, January 2021
So much of our lives and our family's lives revolve around technology. Instead of policing screen use, we should instead focus on becoming digital mentors for others. Try modeling healthy technology behaviors such as being present in the moment rather than dividing your attention with a device, entertaining yourself in other ways such as reading or going for a walk, and getting the whole family involved in setting times when phones and other devices should be put aside.
"How to Feel Nothing Now, in Order to Feel More Later" by Nellie Bowles
New York Times, November 7, 2019 (also available on the New York Times website)
Another popular trend lately is dopamine fasting. This type of fasting relies on the idea that people on the whole are overstimulated by technology, food, music and anything else that produces pleasure in our brains. By restricting our stimulation and focusing on more mindful activities, we can reset our brains to need less of that stimulation to be happy.
Personal Finance Fasting
"Millennial Money: How to Nail a No-Spend Month" by Lauren Schwahn
Associated Press: Financial News, January 5, 2021 (also available on the Associated Press website)
No-spend challenges are a great way to get your personal finances back on track. Choose a timeframe, like a week or a month, and pledge to eliminate unnecessary spending. Try focusing on paying for your essentials instead of your budget extras. The benefits of this might be paying down holiday debt, growing your savings, or gaining a healthier mindset about your finances that will carry you through the rest of the year.