It is difficult to shed repeated forms of behavior, especially when they provide a form of comfort and relief. But some habits can be harmful and even hinder your daily life. In some cases, they can also have a poor effect on those around you. Luckily, it’s never too late to overcome them.
Here are a few methods for leaving destructive habits behind.
The first step in overcoming a debilitating habit is finding the determination to do so. If you are set in your ways when it comes to certain behaviors and unwilling to make changes, chances are you won’t be successful in conquering them. Discern what the benefits of giving up specific habits are. Remember, a habit doesn’t exclusively refer to physical quarks, like fidgeting, it also applies to actions, such as frequently being late for work or repeatedly adopting a negative perspective.
Recognize the Reason
Bad habits are difficult to break because they are ingrained behaviors that we unconsciously revert to when certain situations arise. Identifying what sparks perpetual forms of behavior is an indispensable step in conquering it. Do you find yourself biting your nails when you’re anxious? Are you more likely to procrastinate when you’re stressed? Recognize the circumstances and emotions that cue the actions you’d like to put a stop to.
Find a Replacement
If you develop a good understanding of why you find solace in certain habitual responses, you can begin to come up with alternate coping strategies. For instance, take a soothing bath after a arduous day instead of eating to excess in front of the TV. Can’t stop cracking your knuckles? Try taking a deep breath or briefly meditating.
Choose a Strategy
It is important to decide how you’d like to go about altering the behaviors. Do you think it would be best to quit cold turkey? Would you rather attempt to slowly limit the amount of time you take comfort in it? For example, if you’d like to stop surfing the internet for lengthy periods of time, try allotting yourself an hour or two each day to browse the web. As time progresses, lower that time to just one hour.
Studies show that it can take an average of 66 days to break a habit. Don’t expect to curb the behavior right away, as this would normally be a set-up for disappointment.
Written by Joshua Rosenthal, PsyD