It takes around 90 days to build a good habit, whereas much lesser to pick up a bad one. Bad habits can also lead you astray, you may lead to food for comfort when you’re sad or take a cigarette break when stressed. Habits take practice and repetition to form, the same goes for breaking them.
Here are 5 practical ways of breaking that bad habit and making sure you don’t bounce back to them.
Reduce your stress
It is usually because of an initial stimulus that you get a kick for a bad habit. As and when that increases you find different ways to cope with it, be it smoking, or fidgeting with a pen, or just feeling restless. Find the root of the issue that is causing you stress and try to reduce that stress. Once you know the root of your stress, you can then work on controlling your bad habit.
Replace a bad habit with a good one
In order to curb your bad habit, find another response towards the issue. Find an alternative solution that will satisfy you. Say, instead of smoking, do 5 push-ups every time you have the urge. As you repeat the new behaviour, the impulse to follow the new routine develops. Eventually, after you see rewards from the new habit — more energy and less of a sugar crash — the urge to keep doing this behaviour might outweigh the desire to pursue the old habit.
Visualise yourself breaking the habit
Breaking habits doesn’t have to be an entirely hands-on, physical process. You can practice new replacement habits mentally, too. Imagine yourself in a triggering environment or situation, such as the morning before your performance review. How would you typically react? You might see yourself anxiously biting your nails or drumming your pen against your desk. Instead, visualize yourself sitting with closed eyes a calm mind. This will give you an instant boost of confidence and overpower your nervousness.
Mindfulness can help you develop awareness around your thoughts, feelings, and actions. This practice involves simply observing impulses that relate to your habit without judging them or reacting to them. As you become more aware of this routine behaviour and the triggers that lead to them, you may find it easier to consider other options, such as avoiding reminder cues or not acting on the urges.
Trying to kick multiple habits in the same go? The image of a new, improved self can be a powerful motivator, especially when you first decide to change unwanted habits.
This can sometimes work. If the habits go together, you might find it easier to address them at the same time. For example, if you want to stop smoking and drinking, and you always do those two things together, quitting both at once may make the most sense. Aim to change one habit at a time.
Keep your aims and goals in mind, and you are sure to succeed!
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