How To Break Bad Habits

We all have some bad habits. Some are more threatening than others, but there is always something that we can work on. Some people struggle with procrastination, while others struggle with gambling. Whatever your vice is, there is a way for you to change it. Here are some ways to break bad habits:

  1. Identify Your Bad Habit: First, recognize the bad habit that you want to change. Maybe you have more than one thing that you would consider a bad habit that you want to change. See if there is a bigger, overarching connection to get to the root of the problem. It’s best to tackle one habit at a time, or to find the root cause to nip the entire issue in the bud. It could be something cosmetic like biting nails, or it could be more detrimental to your health, like smoking. Others have bad personal habits, like going on a shopping binge, or overeating. Whatever it is, write it down and put it in a visible location. Recognizing your bad habit will keep your eye focused on the end goal. Identify what you struggle with, and reframe how it is that you look at that thing. We have bad habits because they bring us some form of comfort. You may bite your nails as a nervous response, and the biting helps release some of that energy. Refocus that energy elsewhere to give you the same kind of cathartic release that you need.
  2. Accountability Partner: Having moral support or someone to keep you on track can be an extremely valuable resource for those looking to break a habit. Tell someone the habit that you want to change, and tell them how you want to break that habit. An accountability partner will help you stay honest and make you more likely to be successful in reaching your goals.
  3. Find Triggers: Does stress trigger you to overeat? Does buying new things make you feel better about yourself? Look these triggers in the eye, and know how you are likely to respond when stress comes. Set up alternative courses of action to avoid going back into your old routine. Instead of going to a restaurant and ordering large amounts of food, try seeing a friend to talk it through. If you love to shop to feel better about yourself, go into your own closet and get dressed up. Remind yourself that you already have things that make you feel good.
  4. Take Small Progressive Steps: As with anything, take small steps that progress towards your ultimate goal. Quitting cold turkey is a difficult way to break a bad habit, and makes you less likely to stick with the change. Having friends and support around you will help you stay the course. Celebrate the little victories that you have, and remind yourself why you are making this change in your life.
  5. Change Your Environment: If you continue to struggle with the habit, then maybe it’s time for more drastic measures, like relocating to a new environment. Changing your scenery can make you change your routine. If the people that you are surrounded by are doing the same habit that you are trying to break, then you’ll have a hard time not reverting back to your old ways. That’s why organizations like AA and NA exist. It gives you a support group to change your environment and the people that you surround yourself with.

Don’t beat yourself up too bad if you relapse. If you do go back to your old ways, be quick to catch yourself. Write out your thoughts and discuss why you did it and how you felt afterwards. Odds are, that old habit didn’t feel as good this time around. It’ll help you bounce back and continue moving forward.

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