How to break a bad habit?

Habits aren’t built overnight; it takes time to form a habit whether good or bad. A good habit helps us in living a better life whereas the bad one if not changed can turn into a serious problem. It can have a severe effect on our mental and physical health. Bad habits when not addressed on time can jeopardize a person’s overall growth. It not only wastes one’s energy but time as well. It is important to break bad habits in order to ensure positive growth. 

But getting rid of unwanted habits can become difficult especially when you are involved in them for a long period of time. If you are trying to get rid of bad habits then don’t worry we have got you covered. Do read this post to know how to break bad habits. 

What is a habit?

Bad habits
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Before we jump on how to get rid of bad habits we need to know what actually these habits are. All the habits that you have in your life right now are all because of a reason. They are beneficial to you in some or the other way that’s why you cling on to them for so long. You practice these habits as they give you something in return even the bad ones. 

Often people do things that make them feel better. These benefits can vary from person to person and could be physical, biological, emotional, and mental. Let’s have a look at a few of the examples of habits.

  • A person who takes drugs may feel good as soon as the drug is taken either by swallowing, inhaling, or injecting.  It reaches the brain and from there to the other parts of the body.  In the brain, drugs may intensify or dull the senses, giving an adrenaline rush. It makes the person feel calm and relaxed.
  • When people are under stress, they tend to indulge in various activities knowingly or unknowingly such as they bite their nails, tapping their feet, clenching their jaws or even eating lot of junk food. This gives them a sense of security.
  • Some people have a habit of opening their email or checking on social media as soon as they wake up. It makes them feel connected to the world.
  • Often people upload every single detail on social media channels. This gives them a feeling of contentment. Some people check their phone just to know what’s happening on such platforms as it prevents them from feeling “missing out.”

Above we looked at a few of the common habits. We can categorize some under good and some in bad depending on certain factors. But one thing is common in all the habits; they are a result of triggers. What are these triggers? Let’s have a look at it.

Spot your triggers

Triggers of bad habits
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Triggers are the first point of touch in the development of a habit. It is called triggers for a reason as it urges you to do something or to continue doing more of what you are involved in. it is important to identify these triggers. Spend a few days tracking your habits, to understand if it follows any pattern.  You can start off by jotting down details like – 

  1. How often in a day do you repeat your habit?
  2. What makes you do it?
  3. What time of the day?
  4. What are your thoughts before and after you do it?
  5. Does it happen right after something else?
  6. Who are you with while doing it?
  7. Where does it happen?
  8. Where are you, when you do it?
  9. What activates it?
  10. Does anything troubling you, which forces you to get involved in it?

When you start keeping a track of these trigger points, you will see a pattern that is the cause of your bad habit. You will understand what is troubling you. It will make you more aware of the behavior and give you many ideas to stop it.

Your goal is to be aware of the situation when it happens and how often it happens. This will give you enough information about what is setting you off. 

How to break a bad habit?

Stop bad habits
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Breaking a bad habit not only takes time and effort but also consistency. Just like with continuous practice you develop a habit in the same way it is a continuous process of deliberate practice to break a bad habit.

Here are a few of the ideas that can help you in breaking a bad habit. Ideas will only work when it is practiced physically. Just by mere thinking, you can’t change anything.

Identify your bad habit

The first step in breaking a bad habit is to find out what is it that you want to break. Which habit isn’t helping you anyway or is it a barrier to your growth? Once you start scanning your habits, it will try to trigger you to discontinue the search. But you tell yourself that this is for the higher good and find out your bad habit.

Spot and Stop the triggers

Next is to spot the triggers and stop them from provoking you in indulging with the habit. For ex – if you eat cookies when you are at home then throw them away so that you will not eat them and it will not distract you from your weight loss journey.

Take help or join a group

Group of positive people
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Often it becomes difficult to do things alone, but when you have the support of others it takes away the extra stress. You can also join forces with the people who are also trying to break a habit. Consider involving a trusted friend and talk about your habit with them. They will encourage you in times of doubt and will be a constant reminder of the reason you started this.

Surround yourself with positive people

Positive people
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When you are in the company of a positive person by default you start becoming optimistic about the future. A positive person tends to bring out the constructive and healthy side of others. They will bring out the best in you and can give you hope to live a better life.

Visualize yourself succeeding

Visualization
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Visualization is said to be one of the most effective ways of bringing things into existence. Many scholars have emphasized the importance of visualization. See yourself coming out of your old self; see yourself breaking the pattern of bad habits. If you want to wake up early in the morning, then visualize yourself waking up early. 

Keep a backup plan

Breaking bad habits can be challenging, some habits may take longer than some. During this practice, you can fall back or slip back into the old pattern. When the new patterns aren’t solidified, the old ones can always make a way back to their origin. Don’t feel stressed about this, don’t do negative self-talk instead appreciate yourself for the progress you have made so far. This will give you the courage to keep going.

Give yourself rewards

Rewards
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Acknowledge your growth with timely rewards. This will give you confidence and motivation to keep trying.

Recovery
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Breaking a habit can be a bit stressful at times, hence it is important to be patient with oneself. Start small if you have multiple bad habits to get rid of. Don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself. As it takes time to develop a habit same way it takes time to break it. Have faith in yourself while hopping on this journey. It is important to be consistent while consciously getting rid of bad habits. With faith and hope, you can get rid of the habit that is troubling you.

“Breaking bad habits is like training a dog, you got to be consistent.”― Sanita Belgrave.


Featured image credit – iStock

Renu Solanki

Renu Solanki works as a content specialist with Postbox Consultancy Services. She is an English Literature graduate. She is an avid-reader and passionate about the study of the Universe, Spirituality, Psychology and Traditional Culture. In her free time she likes to indulge in a steaming cup of black coffee & Netflix. .