Effective Ways To Break A Bad Habit
Cover Photo By Sharon McCutcheon
Breaking a bad habit isn’t easy. Such habits often develop over a long period of time and can become instinctive behavior – the likes of swearing or biting one’s nails may even be actions we do unconsciously without even knowing. Other bad habits may be a form of release from stress or boredom such as smoking or excessively snacking. To break these habits, you need to reprogramme your brain to not make these behaviours instinctive and to find a sense of reward elsewhere. Here are just a few ways to successfully beat a bad habit.
First, understand why your habit is ‘bad’
In the case of some bad habits, it’s obvious as to why they’re bad. Smoking for example is damaging to our health whilst constantly impulse buying could be causing financial problems.
However, when it comes to bad habits such as picking your nose in public or spending too much time on Facebook, you may not fully understand what makes these habits bad. It many cases it’s the social damage that these habits can have – picking your nose could be damaging your professionalism at work whilst spending too much time on Facebook could be affecting your relationship or stopping you from doing other productive tasks.
You should try listing all the reasons as to why your habit is unhealthy. This could help you to think twice before giving into your habit by being able to truly visualize the consequences.
Take steps to combat stress and boredom
Many bad habits (although not all of them) can be triggered by stress and boredom. By eliminating these sources of your stress and boredom, you can usually help yourself to beat these bad habits.
For example, if you’ve got a stressful job that’s causes you to hit the bottle or chain-smoke, consider whether this job is worth the stress that it’s causing. Alternatively, you could simply find healthy ways to get rid of your stress at the end of the day such as meditating, taking a hot bath or listening to music. If you’re not as stressed, you may not give into your urges.
Replace your bad habit with a healthy habit
You may also want to consider replacing your bad habit with a healthier one. This can sometimes be easier that cutting out a bad habit completely – such bad habits may have become part of your routine and you may feel a sense of emptiness by not having them to rely on. By replacing them, you fill this void and it may feel like less of an abrupt change of lifestyle.
A common example of this is replacing smoking with vaping. Whist smoking an e-cigarette is certainly not harmless, it’s a lot healthier than smoking a real cigarette. You also get the same action of inhaling and holding something in your hand so that it doesn’t feel like too much of a change in behaviour. You can buy an e-cigarettes and various vape juice flavors online. Most vape juices contain nicotine, but there are juices that don’t.
There are many other bad habits that can be swapped out for healthier options. This could include using words like ‘fudge’ and ‘sugar’ to stop yourself swearing, drinking sugar-free versions of soft drinks, buying alcohol-free versions of alcoholic drinks or getting addicted to fitness apps instead of video games.
Removing temptations from your life could help to prevent you giving in to your bad habit. For example, you’re more likely to snack on unhealthy foods if you’re cupboards are loaded up with sweets and potato chips – by getting rid of these snacks you won’t have the temptation there.
You may be able to find other ways to create barriers for yourself such as wearing gloves to prevent you from biting your nails or having somebody else change the wi-fi password during certain hours so that you can’t go on social media.
Get your friends and family to support you
You should tell your friends and family that you are committed to breaking this bad habit so that they can help you. They may be able to support you by reminding you every time you’re about to give in to your bad habit whether it’s lighting up a cigarette or picking your nose. If your friend or family member is also guilty of the bad habit, you may also need them to act respectfully around you and not act as a temptation – for example, if you’re trying to give up snacking, you should ask them to not openly eat snacks in front of you or tease you. It’s likely your friends and family will be fully behind you – just make sure that you let them help.
Keep a record of your progress
It could be worth keeping a record of your progress – this could allow you to set targets that will help motivate you. If you’re trying to give up your bad habit in small stages, keeping a record will allow you to set a new target each week such as having one less cigarette per day. If you’d prefer to simply go cold turkey meanwhile, a record of your progress could help you to see how many days you’ve abstained so that you can try to make each new month completed a goal. You could do this on a calendar or you could try and find an app that helps you record your progress (there are many of these out there on the market such as apps for eating healthily).