5 Ways to Break a Bad Habit
These tips will help you get back on track.
Breaking a bad habit is one of the most common New Year’s resolution people make. Sadly, just weeks into the new year, people typically fail to stop the habit they set out to break. Whether your goal is to eat more healthfully, stop smoking or overspending, these tips will help give you a push in the right direction.
Don’t Conform: Reader’s Digest points out that one reason it’s so difficult to break bad habits is that so many other people have them. However, it’s a mistake to take on a bad habit such as drinking or smoking simply to fit in with everyone else. If you want to change your ways, you’ll have to risk not fitting in. That means turning down the drink, cigarette or French fries when friends urge you to accept them.
Use The Buddy System: Just as friends can influence you to continue bad habits, they can also help you to break them. If you want to break a bad habit such as overeating or not exercising enough, pair up with a friend who has the same goal. You and this friend can work on a nutrition plan together or work out together. You can confide in this friend when you’re tempted to slip into old habits or have already given in to your urges.
Find a Substitute For Your Bad Habit: It’s easier to break a habit if you have a replacement for it already. If you want to stop watching so much television, for example, find a substitute activity before you embark on that endeavor. Perhaps you’ll decide to replace television watching with reading more, helping your children with their homework or exercising.
Identify the Emotions Fueling the Habit: Psychologist Jeremy Dean, author of upcoming book "Making Habits, Breaking Habits," told Forbes magazine that it’s important to know the emotional context in which you’re making bad decisions. Do you smoke when you’re stressed out or overeat when you’re bored? Pinpointing these emotions will give you the tools needed to change your bad habits.
Distract Yourself: If you’re feeling the urge to give in to a bad habit, like calling the ex you’ve already broken up with five different times, distracting yourself might keep you in line, Dean says. Call up a friend or go for a walk instead. Repeat these good behaviors until you lose the urge to give in to a bad habit.
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