Admit it, you have at least one bad habit you’d like to overcome. Whether it is picking your fingernails, interrupting others or eating dessert after both lunch and dinner, we all have bad habits we would like to get rid of. But habits can be tricky. We fall into our habitual ways because we are used to them and our brains like patterns. Fighting bad habits takes constant energy and focus, so we seem unable to kick them. Luckily, when you employ these simple tricks, you may find it easier to fight those embarrassing or unhealthy habits.
Create a trial period
Researchers used to think that it took about a month to form a new habit. However, recent studies have indicated that this is not necessarily the case. Each person’s bad habit will require a different length of time to replace it with a better habit. For example, an alcoholic will not be completely over alcohol in just 30 days. However, chances are, if you do something every day for a month, it will be a lot easier to continue it and form that action into a real habit. When trying to stop a bad habit, set a conditioning period of a month or more and vow to abstain from that habit during this time.
Do the new habit accurately every day
Let’s say you have a bad habit of pressing the snooze button too many times. Every day during your trial period, don’t hit the snooze button at all. Wake up with the first alarm. It will be difficult, but it’s important to go as cold turkey as possible during the conditioning period to set your new habit.
Fill the void
Do you know why so many of the methods to quit smoking include gum chewing? When you remove a bad habit, there is an emptiness left behind. If you do not fill the hole left by the bad habit, then you will likely backslide into your old habit. For example, if you are trying to eliminate a specific food or drink from your diet, don’t focus on removing it. Rather, think about foods or beverages that you could enjoy instead. Make a list of 10 healthy items that you can use to replace the void left by eliminating your bad habit.
Think about the end goal, then start small
For some habits, a gradual approach will work best. When creating a new habit, finding the motivation is often the hardest part. Imagine the end goal, but begin with a small step that can lead you there. Rather than focusing on how you need to exercise for at least 60 minutes a day, simply commit to exercising at all. Even exercising for five minutes a day will set the foundation for a healthy habit. Once you get started it’s easy to add more, but if you never start because you don’t want to be overwhelmed or you think you’ll fail, then your bad habit will stick around.
Choose an effective approach
When establishing a new habit you will, unfortunately, have to avoid tempting situations. Say you have a bad habit of smoking during your lunch break. Normally you go out with a group of other smokers and have a fun time together during lunch. But if you’re trying to quit smoking, you’ll have to stay far away from that crowd at lunch. Hanging out with people who encourage your bad habits or placing yourself in situations that will test your resolve will only end in disaster. Until your new habit is firmly established, be sure to have a plan for avoiding the people or things that encourage you to go back to your old habits. In some cases, this may take a very long time.
Habits are part of who you are. A habit is an ingrained behavior that is difficult to change. If you have a bad habit that you no longer want, implementing these strategies will help you get off on the right foot and replace the bad with the good. Within just a few weeks, you can transform into a whole new person with minimal daily effort. The key is just to get started.
Brenda is a writer, chef and health nut with many years of writing experience in the alternative health industry. She specializes in health news, healthy living, alternative treatments, and healthy recipes. She loves educating others about sustainable, healthy living. Brenda lives in Texas with her husband and two daughters.