“Bad habits are like a comfortable bed, easy to get into, but hard to get out of.” ~ Anonymous
We all have bad habits — some largely problematic and others minor annoyances. What habits do you have? Overspending, poor dietary choices, smoking, nail biting? Does it feel like it’s impossible to break them? I promise you it isn’t, but it does require commitment and a new way of thinking.
The Key to Breaking Bad Habits: Replacement
We often think about just breaking those bad habits — stopping cold turkey. And while ceasing the habits is the right way to go, there’s another key to the puzzle: replacement. You can’t expect yourself to stop a bad habit and not do something else.
Your bad habit has been filling some kind of need for you. Dig deep and think about what that need is. Is it preventing boredom, relieving anxiety, releasing stress, avoiding life’s circumstances or simply for fun? Discover why you have created these habits and think of a positive replacement that can fill the same important need.
- If your habit is due to stress or anxiety: Replace the habit with exercise, meditation, a favorite hobby or time with friends. There are many healthy activities that relieve stress.
- If your habit is from boredom: Fill your time with fun activities – actually schedule them!
Do you struggle with any of these habits? Try these replacements:
- Overspending – volunteer, exercise, fill your normal shopping times with these other activities
- Smoking – Deep breathing during cravings, fidget toys, journaling or other activities that keep your hands busy
- Overeating – meditation, mantras or affirmations
- Nail biting – finger yoga, grip strengthening, fidget toys
Remove Your Habit Triggers
As you replace bad habits with positive ones, also make sure you’re eliminating your triggers. If you overeat when you’re bored, make sure you don’t keep your favorite treats in the house. If you smoke cigarettes when you consume alcohol, avoid going to bars that will trigger the habit.
More Tips for Breaking a Bad Habit
Remember, you don’t have to become a new person as you break these habits. You’re really reverting back to a healthier true self. You already have it in you to be the person you want to be.
- As you work through breaking the habit, use positive self-talk. Talk to yourself like you would speak to a friend. This isn’t a time for being too hard on yourself. Celebrate each small victory.
- Use visualization. Picture how you want your days to go and really feel how great it will be to be free of this habit. It’s powerful!
- Plan for failure and set back — and keep going! If you fail one day, instead of throwing in the towel, look at all of your successes. Don’t let one bad day derail you from your goal.
- Reward yourself along the way. It takes time, patience, perseverance and commitment. Breaking a habit won’t happen overnight; in fact, it typically takes about 40 days. You do have to work to change those powerful neuro-pathways in your brain, but the healthy results are worth it!
Could you use some help on your path to wellness and healthier habits? I’m here to support you! Contact me today for a consultation.
A nurse for more than 25 years, Karen David is a Certified Wellness Coach, Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist and board certified Focused Awareness Meditation Specialist. She brings her passion for well living and calm presence to empower others in health and wellness. Karen is CEO of Live Life Well, LLC.
This article is for informational purposes only. Practices, services or products described are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please speak with a doctor before beginning any new health regimen.