Having habits can often be a good thing. When you drive to work for example, you don’t need to wonder whether you should turn left or right; the route becomes habit. We want the brain to learn how to do those things without energy and effort. Habits are an adaptive feature of how the brain works.
But sometimes, habits can lead us astray — whether it’s turning to comfort food when we’re sad, or taking a cigarette break when stressed. Everyone has a bad habit they want to break.
Breaking unwanted habits can be difficult, especially if you’ve been engaging in them for a long time. But understanding how habits form in the first place can ease the process.
Since habits take practice and repetition to form, the same is true when it comes to breaking them. In order to eliminate those pesky habits — whatever they may be — use the following strategies.
How To Break A Habit
Most of your bad habits are caused by two things…
Stress and boredom.
Most of the time, bad habits are simply a way of dealing with stress and boredom. Everything from biting your nails to overspending on a shopping spree to drinking every weekend to wasting time on the internet can be a simple response to stress and boredom.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can teach yourself new and healthy ways to deal with stress and boredom, which you can then substitute in place of your bad habits.
Regardless of your particular habit, or how deeply ingrained it is, the process of breaking it will be similar. With persistence and the right mindset, it’s possible to break your bad habits, and these instructions help you through the process of doing so.
1. Set a goal.
Although it may seem obvious, it is important to understand that the first step in breaking a bad habit is developing a true desire for and committing to changing your life.
Many people embark on the path of breaking a habit without being certain that they really want to change. Breaking habits is a difficult task, so if you aren’t fully committed to it you are likely to fail.
2. Get motivated.
To successfully break a habit, it’s important to identify why you want to change. Write down your reasons. What are the upsides of changing? What are the downsides of continuing the behavior? Keep this list with you in case you need to look at it for motivation.