Bad habits creep up on you. Most people think they are living well, but when you delve into what they are actually doing, you find quite the opposite. Far from being super healthy, they’re doing everything that’s wrong for them.
Perhaps you’ve found yourself in this situation. You want to live in a way that supports your wellbeing, but despite your desires, you still have bad habits.
The good news is that there are proven ways to break a habit but it requires taking the right approach. It doesn’t matter if you are biting your nails or drinking too much alcohol, these strategies really work.
Think About How Changing Your Habits Will Benefit You
The first step is to consider the benefits that changing your bad habits will bring. Perhaps you’ll have more money, a better body or more satisfying relationships. Research shows that people who keep the benefits of positive change in their mind tend to do best when trying to beat their habits.
If you’re struggling with motivation, write down the benefits on a piece of paper. List all the good things that will happen if you change your habits, or adopt better ones.
Get A Friend To Help You
Trying to change yourself alone is extremely challenging. Some would say impossible. But when you enlist the help of a friend, it becomes significantly easier. Friends hold you accountable and provide support when things get tough. They’re always there for you when you need someone to lean on or to provide you with a helping hand.
It’s even better if you have a friend who wants to eliminate the same habit as you. This way, you can coach each other.
Give It Time
Breaking habits is hard because they are learned routines and behaviors. They feel natural, and going against them is like struggling upstream.
Most people can’t break a bad habit in a week. It takes a long time. For most people, the average length of time to break a habit is between two and three months, but it really depends on the nature of the habit. If it involves an addictive substance or you are particularly conscientious, it may take longer than that.
Here are some factors that determine how long it takes to break a habit:
- How long the habit has been a part of your life
- The degree of emotional and psychological pleasure the habit brings you
- The amount of support you have
- The social and economic needs the habit fulfills
For instance, it may take you longer to break a drinking habit if all your friends go to the bar every weekend. Likewise, it may take you a long time to break your bingo habit if you love the thrill of winning.
Give Yourself Some Sort Of External Motivation
Because breaking habits is so challenging, it’s a good idea to give yourself some sort of external reward if you are successful. For example, make sure that you have some prize at the end of the world you can use to say “I did this under my own steam.”
You can also give yourself pep talks along the way. Telling yourself that you’re doing well is a great way to build motivation and make your dreams come true. Give yourself a bit of slack, too, particularly if you fall off the wagon. Remind yourself of how far you’ve come and what an achievement that is.
When trying to break a habit, make sure that you look after yourself in other ways. Allocate time for sleep, eat regular, nutritious meals, and make sure that you are physically active most days. Try to find time for hobbies, relaxation and other activities that boost mood.
Imagine That You’ve Already Broken Your Habit
Visualization is a great technique for breaking habits. By imagining that you’ve already broken them, you shift your unconscious to a different state. All of a sudden, you are in the place you want to be. It’s not somewhere off in the distant future. It’s what you have now.
If you’ve never done visualization before, the trick is to focus on the emotion. Creating positive feelings by imagining that the habit or addiction is gone is a great way to boost your energy levels and see you through the day.
Pick A Small Habit First
Lastly, if you have more than one habit you want to break, pick a small one first. Prove to yourself that you have the ability to break habits before moving onto bigger challenges.
Thank you for reading!