Everyone has at least one habit that they would like to break.
It could be something as simple as biting your nails or staying up too late. Other habits may be more serious, like drinking too much or drug addiction.
One thing that all these habits have in common is the potential to disrupt your life.
Keep reading to discover simple but effective ways of breaking these bad habits.
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1. Identify Your Triggers
At the core of every bad habit is a trigger. According to Psychology Today, identifying these triggers is the key to breaking bad habits. It could be a sound, smell, or the sight of something.
Triggers can also be emotional, for instance, nail-biting. This habit is usually caused by stress. Whenever you notice a trigger, take a moment rather than just matching on.
2. Change Your Environment
According to the Wellness Council of America, a change of environment is crucial to changing your habits. It could be a small change like eating at the dinner table instead of the living room.
This way, you are less distracted and finish eating on time. Another example is changing your environment is eating at a different table at work to avoid colleagues who are triggers. Other situations may require a bold move, such as moving to a different neighborhood.
3. Use a Reward System
Breaking a bad habit is never easy. Acknowledge how far you have come. Try to reward yourself each time you reach a milestone. This simple act will boost your confidence and motivate you to keep fighting the habit. In addition to rewards, you impose fines whenever you slip.
A study by the Society for Neuroscience has shown that reward and punishment are practical tools for learning. A typical example is the use of a swear jar. Punishing yourself requires a great deal of discipline.
4. Get a Friend to Help
You don’t have to struggle with your bad habit alone. You can enlist the help of friends or family members who also want you to break that habit.
Forbes recommends having an accountability coach to help you on your journey. It could be a spouse, friend, or colleague. You can monitor each other if the other person is trying to break a habit. This accountability buddy will encourage you when you feel like quitting and help you celebrate the successes along the way.
5. Find a Good Reason to Change
According to research by the University College London, it may be easier to break a bad habit if you stand to benefit from the change.
For instance, you are more motivated to quit smoking if it is interfering with your job. Focus on the long term benefits rather than the immediate goal. For example, maintaining your gym schedule will help you get healthier.
Think about the real reason you want to change and use it for motivation.
6. Set Prompts and Reminders
Having reminders can help you stay on track. Studies have shown that only seven items can be stored in short term memory. You can leave sticky notes all over the house with words of encouragement or warning.
Leave the prompts in places you will see them. Better yet, you can set a reminder on your phone, which will remind you when it’s time to hit the gym, go for a run, or go to bed. You can take it a step further and leave yourself a voice note. The prompts will encourage you, and keep you on track.
7. Visualize Your Success
Fighting a lousy habit doesn’t have to be physical. You can play scenarios that would typically trigger you and visualize yourself breaking the habit.
If you struggle with nail-biting, imagine yourself in a stressful situation and remind yourself to breathe. In this situation, try to visualize a different outcome.
According to the Ladies Coach author Michelle Kirsch, you should use mental exercises to rewrite your story. It helps prepare your brain to handle real-life situations.
8. Obviously, Replace Bad Habits with Healthier Ones
Although these bad habits start innocently, over time, your brains become wired, making it harder to quit. The cravings are your brain calling out for a fix.
According to the National Library of Medicine, food addition activates neurotransmitters responsible for pleasure, such as dopamine. The brain interprets this as a reward and continues to seek more of it.
This is just an example but try doing something else whenever you get the craving for your particular bad habit. These newer habits will eventually overwrite the old ones.
9. Be Patient
It can be very frustrating if you know something is wrong for you, and yet you can’t stop. It can lead to a sense of worthlessness. The truth is that breaking a bad habit takes a long time.
A study published by the European Journal of Psychology found that it takes on average 66 days to break a bad habit. That means you can only work on one habit at a time. Start with simpler short term goals and work your way to the bigger ones.
Your brain needs time to rewire, so be a little patient with yourself.
10. Have a Plan for Relapse
Nobody wants to hear this, but chances are you will fail at some point. Research from Harvard Medical School shows that only 20% of addicts recover the first time.
You must have a back-up plan when you slip. This may seem unnecessary when you are doing well, but you will appreciate it when it comes. A slip-up plan will help you dust off and continue fighting the journey.
Otherwise, you risk getting too discouraged to keep trying. Remind yourself that a slip up doesn’t undo all the progress you have made.
11. Consider Getting Professional Help
While some bad habits are relatively easier to break, others are more complicated. Not everyone has the self-discipline it takes to break a bad habit on their own.
A trained healthcare professional is better qualified to help you. They will help you set better goals and show you unique ways of achieving them. Check the American Addiction Centers for treatments and interventions available in your area.
Recognizing that you have a bad habit that needs changing is half the battle. Hopefully, you learned something new from this article. It will take time, but with patience and persistence, you will get there.
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Hi, my name is Rebecca and I am the face behind Everything Abode! I am a home and lifestyle writer based out of Vancouver Island. When I’m not writing or exploring mountains and beaches with my furry rescue, I love spending time learning creative ways to manifest a healthy home. Thanks for stopping by!
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