Everyone has them. Some are annoyed with them, some simply don’t see them. If you see them and want to fight them, then you’re in the same boat as me.
I take it that many of us have already tried to break bad habits, but not many have succeeded. Why? Because having a habit is like being programmed to act automatically this way or another. Whatever we do out of habit, we do it unconsciously, not taking it into account until it is too late. But if we really want to break an annoying habit, we have to pay attention and watch it close. And before we even start working on breaking it, we have to take certain steps that will help us through.
Step 1: Make it conscious.
Try to analyze and understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. Are you biting your nails when you’re nervous? Are you trying to eat your stress away? Think it over and soon you’ll see a pattern of when it’s happening. This will be your first clue of how to overcome this situation.
Step 2: Log it.
Start logging your bad habits daily to make them even more conscious. Write down what you were feeling or thinking about when you noticed your engagement in a bad habit. When it’s all over, try and think whether it helped you to ease it up. This will give you more idea of how to eliminate the bad habit.
It takes three weeks to form a habit or to break one.
Once you understand the why and when, it is time for action.
Step 3: Substitute it.
Not all substitutions are equally good, but if it’s better than your bad habits, it’ll do. You can also make it a temporary substitution.
If you’re a smoker and want to stop, try a bubble gum instead. It might not be the same. Actually, it won’t be the same. But if you convince yourself that you’re strong enough to do it, if you substitute smoking with gum for just three weeks, it might be enough to form a new habit, a healthier one.
If you bite your nails, along with the bubble gum, the next idea might help. Whenever you find yourself biting nails or notice an urge to, start caring for your nails instead. Take a nail file and start filing your nails, coat them in a beautiful polish. Never mind they are short, they will grow if you care for them properly instead of biting them endlessly.
And as for junk food addicts, try this challenge for yourself: add 1 fruit a day to your menu. Just start eating one fruit a day, every day, and soon you’ll notice that it became a habit. And maybe not just a habit. I, personally, have noticed that after about 15 days of eating fruit, I actually started craving it. It also reduced my hunger for high in sugar and calories sweets. Another thing to try is adding fresh vegetables to your diet. And also you can try eating them before the rest of the meal, because this way you fill up faster and eat less of bad food. You can experiment with all sorts of challenges, like giving up chocolate for 30 days or giving up soda (which helped me to stop drinking soda, too). Reward yourself for completing the challenge (but not with food!).
In any way, breaking a habit is a tough task, but you’re STRONG and you CAN do it. It just takes some time and requires substitutions. Few people can cease bad habits without switching to something else. So this is the most essential step in your journey towards the better version of yourself. A few more tips that can help you on the way would be:
- Breaking only one habit at a time.
Trying to break more than one habit at once places a great stress over your mental state, so try to not overload yourself, or it will only make you break.
- Don’t banish thoughts about bad habits.
Concentrating on the thought that you need to banish a bad habit will only lead you to thinking more and more of the habit you’re trying to break. Our subconscious does not recognise the negative particle, and if you think all the time “I do not want to smoke”, all your subconscious gets from it is “I want to smoke”. Don’t make it harder for yourself, surround yourself with distractions.
- Set the milestones.
Set goals to go soda-free for 1 week, then 2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, etc. Check regularly to see how you’re doing or even keep a detailed journal for a better understanding of what you’re going through. And don’t forget to reward yourself for making to the milestones. Treat yourself with a massage or a new haircut, go shopping and buy an outfit – it will make you only stronger and will give you the power to go on. To make your rewards more affordable, get a piggy bank and put some coins in every time you want to smoke or bite nails or eat a cake or a McDonalds. And don’t forget to tell yourself every day that it will work, because it will.