Everyone has them — bad habits. Habits, the good, the bad and the very ugly are a large part of life and how we live it. Whether it’s checking your phone too often, nail-biting, or as pernicious as smoking, bad habits are something we all face. So, we won’t list every possible bad habit you could have. You know what you want to change.
If you’re trying to kick your bad habits to the curb in your journey to glow up, we know there’s frustration at hitting a wall when trying to change. We’re breaking down the best way to break down those bad habits.
What are Habits?
What exactly is a habit? We can’t go into the scholarly research here, but instead, let’s just use the standard definition we all think about. A habit is a regular tendency, especially one that is hard to give up.
Habits are very efficient, even bad ones. Your brain doesn’t want to devote a lot of resources to think through every action you take during the day, so habits form. The problem is when those habits aren’t the green-juice-drinking, hot-yoga-attending kind that we actually want.
How to Stop Bad Habits
The first way you can help yourself stop a bad habit is by decreasing stress.
The reason it works is that stress is often the state of being that makes us vulnerable to habits we know aren’t good for us. We are weaker when we are stressed out, more likely to smoke, overeat, or drink too much. If you cut down on stress, you’ll be able to control your bad habits easier.
Cues are the things that signal our brain to begin the action of a bad habit.
If you smoke, seeing a cigarette might make you want to smoke. If you often overeat, having a half-gallon of ice cream in the freezer isn’t just a test of your will, it’s a path to failure every time you look at it.
Try to eliminate the items in your physical space that might cue you to begin the bad habit.
It’s best to replace bad habits with good ones, instead of just eliminating the bad ones. Think of that ice cream example in the freezer tempting you. Assume you eat ice cream after dinner every night as a habit. If you just stop, it’s not easy. Instead, you want to replace that habit of ice cream with a habit of eating a healthy snack.
Replacing the habit makes it more likely you’ll succeed.
If you’re ready to build up some fancy new habits, it helps to know what makes and breaks a habit.