Bad habits are something that plagues many seeing as how 7 in 10 Americans indulge in life-shortening habits. These habits can include things as small as nail-biting to things as damaging as smoking. Bad habits can get in the way of your life which decreases your quality of life at the end of the day.
The good news is that you can quit a bad habit. We’re here to help you understand habits and give you some tips on how to break them. Let’s jump into it.
What Are Bad Habits?
Every person on Earth has a set of habits, good and bad. A habit is a routine tendency or practice that occurs in your life that is mostly caused by boredom or stress. Most of the time, they’re pretty hard to give up, especially the bad ones.
Some pretty common bad habits include nail biting, late-night snacking, and even skipping breakfast every day. Some habits can be surface level and not as harmful, but just as every action has an equal yet opposite reaction, there are bad habits that can harm your health. These are things like smoking, excessive drinking or drug use, and even stress eating.
So how do you break a habit? Well, let’s first understand the habit. We’ll do this by taking a look at the 21/90 rule.
Quite simply, the rule says that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. If you want to make it a permanent lifestyle change, then you continue to the 90-day marker.
Knowing this can help you tremendously because you can trick your brain into breaking the habit. If you’re like most people, you’re impatient and you want to see change as soon as possible. When going to break a habit, it can be difficult to continue because you don’t feel like you’re making progress and you may think that it’s never going to happen, especially when you’ve just started. But if you can push yourself every day and tell yourself “It’s just 21 days”, then you’re already doing great.
The next step to eliminating is coming to terms with the fact that you can’t just eliminate your bad habit. The truth of the matter is that the bad habit you’re trying to get rid of has some sort of benefit to you, so just pushing it out of the way won’t do any good. This is why you need to find a replacement habit.
Understanding these things about habits will be crucial in your journey to breaking one, but that isn’t everything you’ll need. To help you get even more footing, here are some tips on how to quit a bad habit.
1. Awareness Is Key
Being aware of your habit throughout the day will open your eyes to things that would otherwise go unnoticed. If smoking is your habit and you make it your goal to break it, you’ll start to notice how many cigarettes or packs you’re smoking a day. Read here to learn more about the impact of smoking on your health.
It can be a jarring and eye-opening experience, but one that is helpful to you. You can start to keep track of how many times you indulge in your habit every day and if it’s something like drinking soda or smoking, you can note how many cans or cigarettes you smoke a day. Knowing this information can help you try to decrease the amount you do as a way to ease you out of the habit across these 21 days.
2. Spot the Triggers
Now, identifying how often you indulge is one thing, but identifying what triggers that indulgence is the next step. When you’ve taken note of your fifth can of soda that day, determine why you’ve decided to crack it open.
Were you bored? Stressed maybe? Knowing these things can help you avoid the triggers, making you less likely to indulge in your habit.
3. Find a Replacement
Okay, you’ve found the triggers, but they’re still there. This is where a replacement comes in.
Finding a replacement habit, one that’s better for you will be great as you can indulge that as opposed to your bad habit whenever these triggers arise.
Knowing the general cause, like stress or boredom, of your bad habit is also very helpful when finding a replacement. If it’s a matter of stress, find a way to relax and calm down when stressors are high. If it’s a matter of boredom, find ways to entertain yourself that aren’t indulging in your bad habit.
4. Remind Yourself
Forgetfulness runs deep in a lot of people and that isn’t something to be ashamed of. It can, however, be a roadblock of sorts in your path to breaking your habit. To get around this, find ways to remind yourself.
Whether it’s sticking post-it notes all around the house telling you not to indulge or even if it’s setting constant reminders on your phone, reminding yourself can save the day.
5. Get Some Help
And sometimes no matter how much we remind ourselves, we forget anyways and that’s okay. But to make sure you remember, get some help from a friend.
Getting an accountability buddy can do wonders for you. You two can work together to create a system that works for both of you.
They can text you every hour on the hour to check in on you, they can help distract you in times of high stress or intense boredom. You two could even break a habit together with you helping them and them you.
6. Don’t Beat Yourself up
As you go down this path, it’s going to be difficult and you might encounter failure along the way. The important part of the process is not to beat yourself up about it.
You will get there with time. Just believe in yourself and trust yourself.
Quit a Bad Habit Now
It’s going to take a lot of work and an immense amount of willpower, but you can quit a bad habit. It’ll take time, but it’ll be worth it.
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