Sticking to the Basics

Are you having a bad day at work? Bad week? Feeling sad? Overwhelmed? Anxious? Regretful? Want to regenerate for 2016? Well, you are not alone! Sometimes we feel all of these things and need a quick way of resetting our minds to get us through. Doctor Mike Evans, doctor/professor at St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto calls this “get through the day” or “get through the week” advice. As part of his video lecture series on mental health, Dr. Evans suggests that we gear down and stick to the basics.


When it comes down to the basics, Dr. Evans identifies these as the following:

  • Sleep – turn off the television and go to bed.
  • Activity – go for a walk outside, or engage in an enjoyable activity.
  • Get Perspective – write a letter that you probably won’t send.
  • Eat – make a great meal.
  • Go on a Date – hang out with a friend.
  • Clean Up Your Space – less mess equals less stress!


If you have something to do that is tough, consider what the economists call temptation bundling. Temptation bundling involves the coupling of instantly gratifying “want” activities (e.g. going to an afternoon movie, reading a book at a cafe) with engagement in a “should” behaviour that provides long-term benefits but requires the exertion of willpower (e.g. completing a paper review, exercising at the gym) (Milkman, Minson, & Volpp, 2014). Temptation bundling can essentially solve two problems at once by increasing our desire to engage in beneficial behaviours requiring willpower, and reducing the likelihood of engaging in indulgent activities that we will later regret.


Create a two column list. In column one, write down the pleasures you enjoy a.k.a. the “temptations” that you want to do. In column two, write down the tasks and behaviours that you should be doing, but often procrastinate on. Once you are finished, scan your list of “wants” and “should do's” and see if you can link one item in each column to form a temptation bundle. Temptation bundling offers a simple strategy to get the short-term benefits of indulging and the long-term benefits that result from practicing good habits consistently (Clear, n.d.).



Take a break! We are busy individuals, and sometimes we need to remember to slow down and take a break. As per Doctor Evans’s words of advice:

  1. Pause
  2. Self-care
  3. Take a breath 

How do you stick to the basics? What are your examples of temptation bundling? Let us know in the comments! What will you be doing to get back to basics in 2016?



Clear, J. (n.d.). How to stop procrastinating and boost your willpower by using ‘temptation bundling.’ James Clear. Retrieved from

Evans, M. [DocMikeEvans]. (2015, October 16). What can you do to get through a crap week? [Video file]. Retrieved from

Milkman, K. L., Minson, J. A., & Volpp, K. G. (2014). Holding The Hunger Games hostage at the gym: An evaluation of temptation bundling. Management Science, 60(2), 283-299. doi:

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