Breaking bad habits is difficult – whether it’s spending your time procrastinating and scrolling on Instagram, or simply biting your nails, it’s tough to let go of what we’re used to. Habits are usually a response to stress or boredom. However, you can teach yourself new and healthy ways to deal with stress and boredom, which can hopefully then substitute your bad habits.
Naturally, more serious habitable behaviours that are deeply rooted and can be potentially harmful, may require a number of years and therapy sessions with a mental health specialist to break, but it is doable. Once you’ve noticed that you have a bad habit or behaviour that you want to change, you are already on the way to developing better habits.
Check out these 7 strategies to help you make a change in your behaviour, kick a bad habit or two, and help you develop better ones.
- Treat yourself
- Create a plan and track your progress
- Replace the behaviour
- You don’t have to go alone
1. Treat Yourself
Use the power of positive reinforcement to build on your achievements. After making small changes towards breaking a habit, you should reward yourself. You can use the time, money, and energy that was usually spent on your habit, to buy or do something rewarding for yourself. This will further inspire you to keep bettering your habits.
To break a habit, it’s important to identify why you want to change it. Write down your reasons, and keep a list that you can always look back at for motivation before reverting to the bad habit. Think about the following points: what are the upsides of changing? And, what are the downsides of continuing this habit or behaviour?
It’s important to understand your habit if you want to change it. Think about when, where, why, and how you began to engage in your habit. Keep a journal to monitor your habit for a week or month, and remember to take notes. Keep close attention to patterns, as having awareness is the foundation for change.
4. Create A Plan And Track Your Progress
Once the issue has been identified, focus on a solution. What will success look like? And, how will you get to that point? While going cold turkey can work for some, it doesn’t work for all. Start small and then go on to achieve bigger goals. Regardless, it’s best to set a goal date for when you want to be completely free of the habit. Set yourself milestones along the way and keep track of your progress.
5. Replace The Behaviour
Replacing unwanted behaviour with other activities can be an effective way to break bad habits. Instead of biting your nails, clench your fists, or go for a walk. Exercise is usually a great replacement activity. Try to understand what needs the bad habit satisfies, then try to meet those needs with better, healthier activities.
6. You Don’t Have To Go Alone
Breaking a habit becomes easier if you have a good support network. Set a challenge with a friend or family member to try to break the habit together. It’s important to share your plan with others and ask them not to engage in the habit around you. Another good option is to find professional help.
Lapses are normal when trying to kick a habit or change behaviour. Instead of using the setback as an excuse to quit trying, look at them as a chance to understand what went wrong at that moment and think about how you would do things differently next time.
Knowing when your habit shows up is a good way to identify how often and where the habit presents itself. You may want to make a list of the advantages or disadvantages of keeping your habit. Try to develop a better response that you can do when feeling like reverting to your habit. Make a plan of short and long-term goals, and don’t forget to reward yourself. Be aware that it’s a natural part of change to fall back into your old ways, so don’t beat yourself up about it, as it can take several attempts to change completely.
Eventually, with perseverance, you will be able to kick your bad habit and live a happy and healthy life. Check out these daily habits for happiness and this healthy and effective morning routine for a great day.