People often brush you off when you talk about breaking unhealthy habits, saying, “it’s impossible to do” or “it’s just a habit that you can’t change.” Others try to be supportive, but their advice is usually ineffectual. “You cannot just get over it” or “simply stop doing it.”
Bad habits, unlike good ones, are formed over an extended period. You did that activity or ate that food regularly until it became a way of life. You got some positive reinforcement through the pleasure or comfort it provided, enmeshed yourself in it, and now you’re trapped in a downward spiral. That’s how you got into your current bad habits and the endless cycle of unhealthy behavior.
That said, breaking bad habits is not a hopeless undertaking. You know your bad habits, what’s triggering them, and how they affect your life. All you need to do now is take the necessary steps to break free from these destructive patterns.
If you have tried and failed multiple times to change your habits, there is no need to get discouraged. Breaking bad habits can be challenging, but these tips can help you progress in the right direction.
1. Get professional help
While some habits can be tackled without any outside help, others may require professional advice and support. For instance, if you feel like your bad habits are too deeply rooted or if they are beginning to affect other areas of your life, like work or relationships, it may be beneficial to seek the help of a professional. Such habits include excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, and drug abuse.
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2. Find an accountability partner
Whenever you think about making an unhealthy choice, having someone else there to encourage you and remind you of your goals can help. They can keep you from temptations and talk you through tough times. It can be an invaluable support system you might not have thought of, but it can make a difference.
A good friend, a family member, or a colleague can be a great accountability partner. They can check in with you, help keep you motivated and remind you why your goal is essential. You can even find an online accountability partner if it is impossible to find someone in person.
3. Replace bad habits with good ones
Have you ever wondered why you do certain things? It could be that you are trying to fill a void or keeping busy.
Replacing bad habits with good ones can help you stay focused and on the right track. It can be as simple as going on a walk after dinner instead of snacking or meditating instead of watching TV. When you think you cannot resist the temptation, divert your attention to something healthier and more productive. Wake up your consciousness and ask yourself if this habit will take you closer to your wellness goals or further away. It will help you make better choices.
4. Identify and cut negative influences
Sometimes bad habits are formed due to negative influences around us. A typical example is peer pressure, which can lead to binge drinking or recreational drug use. Negative influences can be subtle, like the opinion of a particular group or even something as small as the thoughts in your head.
The key to eliminating such negative influences is to become aware of them and then take steps to remove them from your life. It could mean cutting ties with certain people, avoiding certain environments, or pruning your social media feeds of negative news or people who regularly bring you down. Focus on changing your thinking patterns, as negative thoughts often influence bad habits.
5. Practice self-care
Engaging in activities that boost your mood and make you feel good is crucial to maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle. From exercise to creative pursuits and spending time with friends, find activities you enjoy and make time for them in your schedule. Make sure to rest and get adequate sleep to give your body time to recharge. Eat a nutritious, balanced diet and stay up to date with regular medical and dental check-ups.
Taking care of yourself can positively impact your overall well-being. It will help break unhealthy patterns and give you the energy to focus on more positive habits.
6. Focus on gratitude
Our lives can be overwhelming at times with all the responsibilities we have to carry. It can lead to feelings of stress, anger, and sadness and eventually lead to a negative outlook and unproductive behavior. To counter this, try to focus on what you can be grateful for in life, such as your health, family, and friends. It can be as simple as being thankful for the food in your fridge or the roof over your head. Or the fact that you can take a walk on a sunny day.
Practicing gratitude helps you to be more aware of the blessings in your life and reminds you to appreciate the little things that bring you joy. It keeps you unplugged from the worries of life and focused on the joys.
7. Celebrate your accomplishments
One common mistake many of us make is focusing too much on our failures rather than on our successes. We can quickly become discouraged by our mistakes and overlook the good that we’ve done.
When you make an effort to recognize your accomplishments, no matter how small, it can help boost your morale and make you feel more confident.
If you’ve survived a few days without inching toward a bad habit, be proud of yourself and allow yourself to celebrate that victory. Noting your progress and celebrating small wins will motivate you to keep going and achieve your goals.
Unhealthy habits are like life-sucking leeches that can weaken your resolve and morale. It is essential to recognize the danger of these habits and make active efforts to break them before they become entrenched. You can get professional help or seek positive reinforcement to combat the urge. Practicing self-care, cutting negative influences, and celebrating your successes are all ways you can break this repetitive, destructive cycle and make healthier decisions.
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