We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t have bad habits – after all, no one is perfect, and a lot of our brain chemistry is geared to make negative behaviours feel rewarding. But when your indulgences start to have a bad effect on your life, it could be time to make a conscious effort to rein it in.
Whether it’s over-eating emotionally, spending too much money and getting into debt, or quitting smoking, there is nothing that feels more liberating than discovering that you do have the self-control to kick a bad habit to the kerb. After all, bad habits can really prevent us from achieving our goals in life, and compromise our mental and physical wellbeing – plus they are usually a waste of time and energy. The good news is, just as habits are learned behaviour, so they can be unlearned, with help from these tips.
Pick A Substitute
Habits form for a reason – either they are a handy shortcut or we find some comfort in them. We are hardwired to seek out these things, and so trying to cut out any behaviour is generally not successful unless we first identify a substitute. This means that stopping a bad habit is much more likely to succeed if we replace it with a more positive behaviour first. Many times, when trying to stop doing something, we start off strong, but end up slipping up when we get either bored or stressed. Planning ahead and understanding how you will cope with these scenarios can ensure that you stay on track when things get tough. How gradually you do this is up to you. As an example, if you start smoking when you get stressed, then think of an option instead – this could be initially switching to an e cig, and then gradually substituting calming breathing exercises instead. Whatever you’re battling against, you are unlikely to succeed if you don’t plan for setbacks.
Know Your Triggers
Most negative habits follow closely on from triggers, and you must work to identify and eliminate these so that they don’t undermine your progress. If you know that you boredom eat, and constantly find yourself absentmindedly munching your way through the cookie jar, then make a decision not to keep those foods in the house, Recognise when you’re getting bored and switch to going for a quick walk or reaching for a magazine instead. If you know you always skip a workout because you come in, sit down on the couch and get sucked into a vortex of Netflix – don’t sit down when you get in, lace your trainers up straight away and go. Our habits are our response to the environment around us, so change that environment and you can change your ways.
Team Up With Someone
Changing a negative behaviour is far easier when there are consequences for not trying. That’s why many people find exercise much easier if they have a gym buddy, and calorie counting more achievable when they keep a food diary on an app like Myfitnesspal. Find someone with the same aims as you and play cheerleader for each other. Knowing there is someone on your side to answer to is a powerful behaviour-change motivator.
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