We all have habits, good and bad, and we need them in our lives because believe it or not, they hold some sort of benefit for us. Even the bad habits we have can provide comfort, relaxation and a source of entertainment. But what happens when you really need to break those habits? I have a huge list of bad habits I need to iron out, and I’ve been seriously trying to improve. I took to the internet and found some interesting articles and theories on how to break bad habits. The most common thing I found during my research was that, you never eliminate a bad habit, you simply replace it with a ‘better’ one, which then turns into a good habit. My bad habits range from biting my nails, emotional shopping, snacking, obsession over little things, self-criticism, grinding my teeth to really silly things like being late or hard to contact / forgetting to reply to messages. These were all things that I said I’d get better at doing, but they’ve just turned into really bad habits. So how do I break them?
The first thing to do when you’re trying to break a bad habit is, identify the habits triggers. If you get stressed and start noticing you’re grinding your teeth, the source of your bad habit is going to be stress. Instead of grinding your teeth, maybe drink some water or coffee. By doing this, you’re taking the focus away from your teeth and jaw. If you find you smoke when you drink in a bar, this environment triggers your cigarette craving. So maybe try reduce your time in a bar and station yourself in a non-smoking area.
Once you’ve identified where the trigger occurs the most you can start looking at alternatives to replace the bad habits. The examples above are exactly that, just examples. There are loads of helpful and insightful websites about breaking habits that can advise any tips or tricks to help get your bad habits replaced by better ones, but it’s down to you how you decide to go about it. If you find chewing gum helps you more than anything, then do that. If maybe taking your dog for a walk instead of emotional shopping works for you instead, then heck, that’s fantastic. If you slowly introduce new habits, your body will slowly adjust to them and, eventually, your bad habits will be kicked to the curb.
When you’re introducing yourself to new habits, try and cut out as many triggers as possible for yourself. It’s so easy to get worked up and stressed, so if you know a situation is going to cause too much stress for yourself, stand down from it. You’ll notice the bad habit that occurs due to stress will slowly fade to the background. It’s so simple to do this once you completed the first step by identifying the triggers!
If you find that you start struggling along the way, why not team up with someone? There’s no point doing something alone if you know someone else wants to kick a bad habit too. Become gym buddies with a friend or make a pact with your partner to quit smoking together. Doing things together will always keep you motivated, especially if you’re a competitive person. All habits, to a certain extent, are addictions, so don’t face it alone if you don’t have to. There’s literally so many things you could do to replace any habit, and you can make it as fun and as social as you want.
To succeed in kicking a habit, you really must imagine yourself succeeding. Imagine your life without your bad habit. What you could do or what you’d feel like once it’s stopped consuming a part of your life. These are visualisations to help keep you motivated and to give you that bit of light at the end of the tunnel. If you’re trying to kick a habit that’s dangerous, like drinking or smoking, then it’s a huge thing to deal with. You can’t succeed if you don’t see yourself conquering it. And one way to keep visualising your success is staying positive. You can’t be anyone other than who you are, so if someone else is doing better at kicking a habit, well good for them. But this is your journey and you’ll do it in your own time and on your own terms. You don’t have to be the first person to succeed in breaking a habit and you don’t have to set yourself a time limit. Take as long as you need. Another tip that I found quite useful is, when you’re being quite negative and find yourself beating yourself up over the littlest thing just use the word ‘but’ at the end of each negative sentence you think. ‘I’m letting everyone down because I’ve not kicked this habit yet….but I’m trying my best and I’ll prove to everyone I can do it.’ You see? It allows you that time to think those negative thoughts, which will occur naturally for everyone, but then it allows you to get back on your feet again and stay motivated get your goal back in focus.
You’ll start noticing small differences in yourself. Sometimes people are happier when they kick a habit. Or sometimes they’re simply more productive in their work. But whatever happens, keep doing what you’re doing. If it’s making you happy and allowing you to kick a bad habit, then that’s all anyone could want for you. The last step in breaking a bad habit is, just like Dory said, ‘just keep swimming’.
That’s my guide on how to break a bad habit! I’ve been trying to break countless bad habits recently and I’m definitely getting there. I still need to work on what I’m going to replace everything with though! If you’ve got any useful tips or ideas on how to break a bad habit then let me know in the comments! And until next time, have an awfully big adventure for me.