We all have habits. There is nothing wrong with having habits. In fact, some of them are pretty useful, like being organized or mindful of energy usage. However, some habits are not at all useful and are damaging for us and everyone around us.
Nurturing bad habits can wreck your life and withhold you from accomplishing major milestones. It could even negatively affect your mental and physical health.
This said, let us know more about why we have bad habits.
What Leads to Bad Habits Formation?
Often, bad habits are caused by two main culprits: stress and boredom. When we are stressed out or bored, our brain tries to find a coping mechanism to alleviate this undesirable feeling. It could be that we resort to nail-biting, mindless shopping sprees, binge drinking, or overeating to feel good or feel comforted.
Nonetheless, we could always choose healthier and more positive coping mechanisms. We can always teach ourselves better substitutes to stress and boredom. It is very crucial to recognize as well whether this stress or boredom is rooted in deeper issues. It can be tough delving into it, but having a clear understanding of what causes your bad habits is the key to overcoming them.
You Do Not Eliminate; You Replace
All the habits you have, whether it is good or bad, are there for a reason. Regardless if it is bad for you, it somehow provides a benefit.
For instance, taking drugs or smoking provides relief in a biological sense. Staying in an unhealthy relationship for some people provides emotional benefits. For the most part, bad habits are developed to cope with stress, like pulling one’s hair, foot-tapping, or biting one’s nails.
It has to be pointed out that these benefits outstretch smaller bad habits, too. Upon waking up, most people immediately check on their social media to feel connected. But spending the majority of your waking hours scrolling to the newsfeed affects your productivity, focus, and in most cases, your self-esteem.
Nonetheless, you kept doing such because you do not want to be “missing out” on things. Since bad habits provide certain benefits to your life, eliminating them is simply difficult. Rather than eliminating them, you replace these bad habits with healthier, positive new ones since, essentially, habits are supposed to provide you some benefits.
To give a clearer illustration, consider this example: You smoke when you are stressed. Smoking provides you biological relief. But, simply stopping smoking does not help address the stress that you are feeling. Ultimately, you may end up with another bad habit that would provide the benefit you need.
Thus, the advice of simply cutting out bad habits would not work. Instead of eliminating them, replace them with positive and healthier habits. Otherwise, there will be needs you have that will be left unmet.
Breaking Bad Habits
1. Know Your Triggers
Triggers are the things that lead to habits. Knowing the triggers to your habitual behaviour is the first step towards moving past them. Allocate some time to track your habits to determine patterns. Take note of things like when your habitual behaviour usually happens, what time of day, or if there is anyone involved.
2. Give Your Attention to What You Want to Change
According to research, it is much easier to change one’s behaviour if one sees that such change is beneficial or valuable. This said, take some time to think about why you want to break that bad habit and what benefits you are hoping to see in the end.
Jot down your reasons on paper and keep it posted on your bedroom mirror, fridge, or any other place you see it regularly. Make some proactive efforts as well to bring that desired change in habits into fruition. Get help from a professional or enrol in a private alcohol detox program.
3. Ask for a Friend’s Support
Having an accountability buddy helps as well in cutting bad habits. It is difficult handling your cravings on your own. But enlisting help from a friend makes it easier. There is always someone who will remind you if you are straying off again.
Consider asking help from a trusted friend about the bad habit that you are trying to break. Not only could your friend keep you in check, but your friend could also encourage you whenever you feel doubtful about yourself.
4. Make Mindfulness a Habit
Practising mindfulness helps you develop an awareness of your thoughts, actions, and feelings. Being more in touch with your routine behaviours and triggers makes it easier for you to find other options for dealing with them more healthily.
Be kind to yourself. No one becomes self-actualized overnight. There are times you might slip back into those bad habits, but keep in mind that the most important thing is you keep working on yourself for the better.
Contrary to what they say that it takes two weeks to develop a habit, the reality is far from it. Habits are ingrained in us. So, be patient with yourself. Do not give up just because it is taking you so much longer than what you have planned.