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.
So, if you would like to conquer your bad habit once and for all, keep reading to discover some simple but effective ways of breaking these bad habits for good.
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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, so if you can figure out what triggers you, you are one step closer to achieving your goals.
Moreover, it’s good to also know that triggers can be emotional, for instance, nail-biting. This habit is usually caused by stress. So whenever you notice a trigger, research indicates that you should take a moment rather than just continuing the bad habit.
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. These are only examples, and of course, other situations may require a bold move, such as moving to a different neighborhood.
3. Use a Punish/Reward System.
Breaking a bad habit is never easy. That’s why experts say to acknowledge how far you have come and try to reward yourself each time you reach a milestone.
This simple act will boost your confidence and motivate you to keep fighting the bad habit.
In addition to rewards, you could also impose fines whenever you slip. A study by the Society for Neuroscience has shown that reward and punishment are practical tools for learning something new.
A typical example of this is the use of a swear jar. Punishing yourself requires a great deal of discipline but it can undoubtedly be what you need to conquer your bad habit.
4. Get a Friend to Help.
When it comes to reshaping out old habits into new, you don’t have to struggle with your bad habit alone.
Experts encourage that you enlist the help of friends or family members who also want you to break that habit.
A study by Forbes also recommends having an accountability coach to help you on your journey. It could be a spouse, friend, or colleague that can help.
You can monitor each other if the other person is trying to break a habit as well. Having 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 for more motivation.
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 in the long run.
For instance, you might be more motivated to quit smoking if it is interfering with your job. Or another example would be maintaining your gym schedule so it will help you get healthier.
By focusing on the long-term benefits rather than the immediate goal, you’ll be well on your way to kicking those bad habits to the curb, so think about the real reason you want to change and use it for more motivation.
6. Set Prompts and Daily Reminders.
We all know the benefit of having handy reminders to help us stay on track.
Studies have also shown that only seven items can be stored in short term memory. So if you can, leave yourself sticky notes all over the house with words of encouragement or warnings with regards to your bad habit and 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 also take it a step further and leave yourself a voice note. These prompts and reminders will encourage you and help you stay on track.
7. Visualize Your Success.
Did you know that fighting a lousy habit doesn’t have to be physical? Health experts say that you can also play scenarios that would typically trigger you and visualize yourself breaking the habit.
So 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 these mental exercises to rewrite your story. They’ll help better prepare your brain to handle the real-life situations, so when the time comes and you are faced with your bad habit you know what to do.
8. Replace Your Bad Habits with Healthier Ones.
Although our bad habits most usually start out innocently, over time, our 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 for example activates neurotransmitters responsible for pleasure, such as dopamine.
When activated the brain then interprets this bad habit 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. Breaking a bad habit takes a long time — Be Patient.
It can be very frustrating if you know something is wrong for you, and yet you can’t stop doing it.
It can lead to a sense of worthlessness and limit your true potential. The truth is 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 and it is strongly encouraged that you 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.
That means 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 the time 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 that you have made, it’s just part of the journey to rewriting your old way of doing things.
11. Consider Getting Professional Help.
While some bad habits are relatively easier to break, others can be more complicated. And not everyone has the self-discipline it takes to break a bad habit on their own.
Know that it’s okay to seek out help and a trained healthcare professional is better qualified to help you if you do. 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 and be kind to yourself while breaking your bad habit.
At the very least you are reading this and it’s a great start to regaining control of yourself and your life.
Recognizing that you have a bad habit that needs changing is half the battle but 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 lifestyle and wellness 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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