Habits can be helpful to have, like your morning routine of getting up, showering, brushing your teeth, and combing your hair. Through repetition, these behaviors become so natural that you no longer have to think about them. This may be advantageous, especially when you have good habits that benefit your overall well-being. However, some habits may not be beneficial, such as hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock multiple times, eating junk food, and smoking cigarettes.
Even if you are aware that these bad habits may have consequences, you still do them because they activate your brain’s reward centers. As you get used to the pleasures of getting five more minutes in bed, satisfying your cravings, and relieving stress with the help of nicotine, you may have a harder time breaking bad habits. The good news is that you are capable of changing and orienting your behavior towards actions with long-term benefits. You can create positive changes by performing healthier activities and developing better patterns that will replace old habits.
Recognize the Bad Habits You Want to Change
The first step is to identify what behavior you want to alter. It’s important to be clear and concrete with the changes you want to make. For example, you may want to kick the habit of sleeping in or smoking. Think about why you want to break the habit and the benefits you’ll get from the change. You may want to write them down and place them where you’ll see them often. This may motivate you to continue your efforts in breaking the habit.
Identify Any Triggering Factors
Bad habits don’t just come out of nowhere. Something prompted you to behave or act in a certain way. Triggers remind you of the enjoyment associated with bad habits. For someone who wants to stop eating junk food, for example, seeing these foods on their kitchen counters may be enough to make them crave. But it can also be because they feel bored and have nothing else to do. As this behavior gets repeated, the association between snacking on chips whenever they feel bored begins to develop and becomes a bad habit.
It’s important to be aware of the factors that lead you to engage in unhealthy behavior to truly understand the cause of the habit. For some, this may be easy to pinpoint. But if you have trouble identifying your triggers, you may work your way backward and observe the patterns you have built over time. When you are craving snacks or want to light up a cigarette, ask yourself what is going on internally? What are you thinking or feeling? How do you feel after engaging in this activity? By answering these questions, you may discover the factors that lead to this behavior and learn how to recognize them again in the future.
Switch to Healthier Alternatives
Breaking a habit doesn’t just involve stopping a behavior; it’s about replacing them with better ones. The healthier alternatives will still address the triggers but deal with them in a less harmful way. If you are feeling stressed from work, you may want to listen to some music rather than heading straight to a fast-food restaurant. Address the stress by relaxing rather than binging on food. It’s good to be aware of your potential triggers and replace them with an option that will address the issue in a healthier way. Also, you may find a substitute habit that gives long-term pleasure, especially since there is no guilt afterward.
Develop New Habits
Aside from finding healthier alternatives, you also want to support your new good habits with other complementary behavior. For example, you may want to change your couch potato habits by devoting time to exercise every week. Aside from doing physical activity, you may also start going to bed and waking up earlier to support this new exercise routine. Also, you can learn about healthy eating and understand how your diet can also contribute to establishing better habits. Through all these efforts, you are more likely to succeed and enjoy lasting effects from your new habits. Instead of just changing one behavior, train your mind and body to adopt a new lifestyle where every healthy action reinforces each other.
Ask for Support
As you break bad habits, you need to realize that you don’t have to do it all alone. Finding an exercise buddy or someone who will spend time with you so you won’t think about lighting a cigarette may be easy. For more deeply-rooted habits like emotional eating and substance abuse, joining a support group or consulting a health professional may be best. They may offer a different perspective on your progress and help you to stay accountable, especially if you are on your road to recovery. After attending a Tucson drug rehab center or other similar treatment facilities in the United States, you can still benefit from keeping in touch with your therapist. They can encourage the changes you’ve made and help maintain the structure you have established in your life of sobriety.
Be Patient with Your Progress
The amount of time to break old habits and form new ones depends on several things like how long you’ve had the habit, the needs it fulfilled, and the rewards it provided. So, some habits may take a while to change, especially for those deeply ingrained in your behavior. As you continue to make positive changes, make sure to recognize the progress you’ve made. Take time to look back at how you started and appreciate what you have achieved. This will encourage you to be patient and persistent with developing new behaviors. Over time, your new habits will become part of your daily life and feel more natural.
Everyone has habits, both good and bad. Some bad habits may be harder to shake than others, but you can always create new and better habits to replace them. It is never too late to make that change. Start by addressing the issue that caused your bad habit, then look for healthier ways to deal with them. More importantly, remember that you can seek help anytime. You don’t need to be alone in your journey. Even if it takes you a while to break bad habits, stay the course until you develop new patterns of behavior that promote a healthier lifestyle.
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