- No-Go Moments, A Sleep Technique & My All-Time Favorite Blog
No-Go Moments, A Sleep Technique & My All-Time Favorite Blog
🤸♀️ Stretch 25
Wait But Why
Happy 2023! I wish you a year full of creative experimentation & identity shifts.
I like Annual Reviews, and one of the most revealing questions I ask myself is:
"What are you avoiding because it conflicts in some way with your identity or self-image?"
We often fear taking on new hobbies or showing interest in quirky topics because it doesn't fit with the "image" we have of ourselves (and others of us).
But our identity is not set in stone. We can reinvent ourselves if we want to. We can experiment.
So I hope this year, you lean into your 'cringiness' and weirdness - and fully own it. Find out what's on the other side.
PS: Speaking of identity shifts. This newsletter is also going through a mini-transformation. New platform; new design. This shouldn't affect you, but if this email ended up in your spam, please mark it as Safe and, ideally, respond to this email saying "hello." That way, your email server knows it's cool to receive emails from me in the future. ✌️
🤸♀️ IN THIS WEEK'S STRETCH:
'No-Go Moments'. An impulse control technique by Andrew Huberman.
The Military Method. How to fall asleep in 2 minutes or less.
Raptitude 'Getting Better at Being Human'. My all-time favorite blog.
🧠 'NO-GO MOMENTS' FOR GREATER IMPULSE CONTROL
That's the number of years of your life spent on your phone, 24/7, assuming 2 hours of "wasted time" per day over 50 years.
Isn't that shocking? Sure, it's old news that our screen times are through the roof, but I had never thought about it on the scale of years in a single lifetime.
One of the main problems with our phones is that our behavior has become so reflexive. I'll speak for myself, but it's become impossible to sit through pretty much anything (a conversation, a meeting, a book, a movie, a queue, a trip to the bathroom!) without reaching for my phone.
Stanford neuroscientist Andrew Huberman insists that we can change our ways. Impulse control, with enough self-awareness and effort, is an ability we can develop.
"GREAT, I WANT TO KNOW ALL ABOUT THIS"
"NO TIME - JUST GIVE ME THE HIGHLIGHTS"
'Go' & 'No-Go' Circuits in the Brain
The basal ganglia are a group of structures near the center of our brain that form important connections. They play a key role in modulating 2 circuits called the Go and No-Go circuits.
The Go circuits are involved any time we initiate action (i.e. self-discipline). The No-Go circuits are the ones that suppress behavior or inhibit impulses (i.e. self-control).
The less we use these pathways, the weaker they tend to grow. But thanks to the beauty of neuroplasticity, we have the ability to train and strengthen these circuits.
When it comes to our phones, we want to be strengthening the No-Go circuits.
Introduce "No-Go moments" to your day
Huberman has a simple rule for himself: 25 times per day, he will suppress the desire to take an action. He calls these "No-Go moments."
Something as trivial as having the urge to scroll through social media but refusing to pick up your phone can begin to train your No-Go circuit.
The idea is you resist any urges related to your phone several times per day (unless you are in danger, then by all means, grab your phone.)
Neural circuitry is generic. A well-trained No-Go circuit will serve you in other areas of your life where you want to have greater self-control.
Be a Curious, Non-Judgmental Observer
The agitation and frustration of the "No-Go" effort are uncomfortable (Huberman says he finds it excruciating). You'll struggle. That's normal. Don't beat yourself up. Instead, take the approach of a curious, non-judgmental observer.
Three interesting ways to do that:
Know Your Triggers: become hyper-aware of when and where you're most sensitive to reaching for your phone.
Discover What It'll Feel Like: when the urge becomes too strong, ask yourself: "Am I more interested in feeling the experience of taking my phone, or discovering the feeling of not having taking it?" (Credit to Sam Sager for this question)
Surf the Wave: Learn to notice an urge, and mentally surf the emotional and physical wave as it crests and wanes. Before you know it, the wave recedes.
😴 HOW TO FALL ASLEEP IN 2 MINUTES OR LESS
One of my strategies to fall asleep is to "think of the black." I focus on staring into the black space and letting myself "fall" into the darkness. It's a strange feeling, but it works every time.
I recently came across another technique focused on getting out of your head and into your body.
In the 2012 book Relax and Win: Championship Performance, Lloyd Bud Winter describes a routine created by the Navy Pre-Flight School to help pilots fall asleep.
Six weeks later, 96% of the pilots could fall asleep within 2 minutes or less.
Here's how The Military Method works:
Relax your face. Close your eyes. Breathe slowly and deeply. Then slowly relax all of your facial muscles. Start with your forehead muscles and work your way down. Relax your jaw, your cheeks, your mouth, and your tongue. Take slow, deep breaths.
Drop your shoulders. Let go of any tension. Relax your neck. Feel yourself sinking into the bed. Then start at the top of your right arm, and slowly relax your biceps, forearms, hands, and fingers. Move slowly from body part to body part. Repeat on the other side. Keep breathing slowly and deeply.
Exhale and relax your chest and stomach. With your shoulders and arms relaxed, that should be easy. Without realizing it, we carry a lot of tension in our chest, back, and abdomen. When you exhale, make sure you are entirely relaxing your abdominal muscles.
Relax your legs. Start with your right thigh; let it sink into the bed. Scan down your leg and release the tension in your calf, ankle, and foot. Repeat on your left leg.
Now clear your mind. Now that your entire body is relieved of tension, it's time to do the same with your mind. Imagine yourself lying surrounded by total darkness. If you struggle with this, repeat "don't think" in your head (or, in my case: "just think of the black.")
I'm curious to hear if it works for you so let me know if you try!
🧍♀️🧍🏽♂️ RAPTITUDE: 'GETTING BETTER AT BEING HUMAN'
Raptitude is my all-time favorite blog.
It's the only blog where I read every single post. Even if the subject doesn't appeal to me, I'll still read it because I know something in there will resonate.
David, the writer, has a way of taking the most mundane observations and turning them into new perspectives to think about life. How wonderfully absurd it all is. How small and insignificant we are (in a good way!).
Here are 3 of my favorite posts and how they shifted my thinking:
You Are Always the Other Person - each person is living a life as vivid and complex as your own, populated with their own ambitions, worries, insecurities, routines, and inherent darkness. You might be the Protagonist in your life, but you're The Other Person in everyone else's.
Wise People Have Rules for Themselves - There shouldn't be anything cringe or weird about deciding to take care of yourself, physically and mentally.
Mindfulness Means Letting Things Surprise You - "You actually don’t know what the eggshell is going to sound like when it plops into the bin. You don’t know how it’s going to feel to pull your sock off, how the chair will sound when you sit in it, how the room will change complexion when you flip the light switch, or how the warm water will feel on your hands. Watch these tiny things happen and let them surprise you."
Thanks for reading!
PS.: I rely on word-of-mouth for growth, so if you enjoyed the content, I'd love it if you could share it with someone in your life. Just forward them this email or send them this link.