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We have all had a bad habit that drains us in certain aspects of our life, whether it is physically, mentally, or emotionally. These habits can be mild, such as stress eating or nail-biting, or can also be a little more extreme, such as shoplifting and gambling. They reduce our productivity and prevent us from having a healthy lifestyle, and it is important to end them so we can improve ourselves. Sometimes it is difficult to know where to start the process so I will be sharing a few tips that will help accomplish your goal.
1. Identify your habit
The first step into solving a problem is to recognize it, and understanding it is key to overcome it. Sometimes our habits become so recurrent that some of our behaviors go unnoticed, which can make it difficult to notice them. To help with this, a good thing to do is that every time you repeat your bad habit to make little notes about it, your actions, your emotions, your surroundings. What do you do when you start stress eating? How is it that you feel when you do it? Were you tempted by things you had around you? With these notes you will be able to start noticing patterns and figure out your habit’s triggers, allowing for a change to start.
2. Cut off triggers and find a substitute
Most of the time, bad habits are a way to deal with stress and boredom, and although they do affect us, they often benefit us in some way by tending other problems such as anxiety or mood changes. Instead of getting rid of a bad habit completely, the best thing is to cut off its triggers and replace it with healthier behavior. It is because of this that getting rid of a bad habit is not as easy as simply cutting it off, it usually ends up leaving a gap that could eventually result in another bad habit.
3. Change your environment
Some habits tend to develop around our surroundings, which can turn our own environment into a trigger itself, and over time, some of these triggers may be too subtle to notice. It can be good to have a change of atmosphere in order to help the process and to avoid temptations. A change of environment does not necessarily mean a change of place, surrounding yourself with people that support you is also an incredible motivator for changing your way of life.
4. Plan for failure
Breaking a bad habit is not something easy, it takes time and work. However, it is important to take failure into consideration and learn from it to prevent it from happening again. A good example of this is a swear jar, you fine yourself to discourage a behavior and turn it into something good. Applying dynamics like this one can help make the path easier.
Getting rid of a bad habit does not happen overnight, so be patient with yourself. Make sure to focus on just one at a time and to keep things simple, otherwise, it may feel too overwhelming. This is not an impossible thing to accomplish, and with enough dedication, it will be as easy as any other task.