Letting Go of “Bad” Habits

by Editor
Published: Updated:

It doesn’t take long for habits to form but breaking them can be a whole different ballgame. Even if we know our behaviors aren’t having a positive effect on us, this doesn’t mean it’s easy to change our habits.

Of course, knowing something and actually acting on it are two different things, which might explain why so many of us are seemingly stuck with our bad habits. 

However, you don’t have to resign yourself to putting up with your own bad habits or their consequences.

If you’re eager to make positive changes in your life, take a look at these top tips to break bad habits and get yourself out of a rut:

Define ‘Bad’

We tend to associate ‘bad habits’ with things that we know aren’t good for us, like junk food, alcohol, or smoking. However, thinking about these things simply as ‘bad,’ isn’t always enough to change your behavior. Instead, focus on the impact these things have on you. 

If eating junk food makes you feel lethargic or leaves you overweight, this could be your motivation to break the habit. Similarly, if you feel hungover and dehydrated after a night out or you’re coughing regularly and struggle to exercise, these effects might give you the impetus to break the habits. 

Thinking in broad, scientific terms makes it easy to distance yourself from the consequences of your bad habits but, when you make them more meaningful, it’s harder to avoid or ignore the impact they have. In turn, this can make you more motivated to change your behavior and leave ‘bad’ habits behind. 

Set Goals

When you attempt to give up bad habits, you tend to think about what you shouldn’t or can’t do. Of course, the more you tell yourself not to do something, the more you want to do it!

If you want to break bad habits, remember to focus on what you’ll gain from the behavior change. When giving up a habit becomes part of a larger goal, it’s easier to focus on your targets and the benefits you’ll get from your accomplishment. 

If you want to lose weight, for example, reducing your junk food intake is one way to improve your diet. However, you might decide to start cooking from scratch and exercising regularly too.

When you begin to focus on the feeling of being lighter and healthier, giving up your junk food habit is simply part of the larger picture and not your sole objective. 

supportive hands

Seek Help

Some habits can be harder to break than others, which is why it’s important to ask for help when you need it.

A variety of things have addictive properties, including alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, and sugar. Whether you’re physically or emotionally addicted to something, it can be challenging to break these habits on your own. 

When you ask for help, however, you’ll gain access to the support network you need. With sessions at Enterhealth, for example, you can identify the behaviors you’d like to change and learn new techniques to help you achieve your goals. Similarly, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from others who are on a similar journey. 

Identify Your Triggers

Rather than simply trying to give up your bad habits, analyze your behavior and try to determine what your triggers are. If you comfort yourself with junk food after a bad day or you have an alcoholic drink or two to boost your confidence at social events, for example, it’s easy to see a pattern emerging. 

The same habit can have multiple triggers, so be sure to assess every area of your life. For some people, keeping a diary can be a helpful way of linking behaviors and identifying triggers. 

Once you know what your triggers are, you’ll be able to find alternative ways to manage them. A healthier method of self-care following a bad day or boosting your confidence could be viable ways to manage your triggers, for example. 

Visualize the Future

Visualization can be an effective way to help you make positive changes in your life, but it can also be a useful way of increasing your motivation.

Firstly, imagine your future in one year, five years, and 10 years if you continue with a particular habit. Then, imagine your future at the same intervals if you let go of the habit. When you can clearly see the different outcomes, you’ll be more motivated to change your behavior. 

From then on, keep using visualization techniques to imagine your future self as you want to be, free from the habits you’d like to break. When you’re using visualization techniques, remember to make the imagery as detailed as possible. The more you can immerse yourself in the image, the more impactful the exercise will be. 

Reward Yourself

When you’re letting go of negative behaviors or incorporating positive changes in your life, it’s important to reward yourself for your efforts. Of course, you’ll want to find healthy ways to do this, such as treating yourself to a small gift or spending extra time on self-care. 

By rewarding yourself at regular intervals, you can give yourself an incentive to keep persevering, even when it’s tempting to fall back into old habits.

Whether you choose to reward yourself daily, weekly, or monthly, make sure this is a central part of the process. 

Learn More About Breaking Bad Habits

If you’re going to let go of bad habits, it can be helpful to find out what you’re in for.

If you quit sugar, for example, you may experience intense cravings for a couple of days or a couple of weeks. After this, however, your body naturally adapts to the change and the cravings dissipate.

By learning more about what to expect when you break bad habits, you’ll be able to prepare for any unwanted side effects and find effective ways to deal with them. 

While breaking unwanted habits can be challenging, it certainly isn’t impossible. With the right tactics and support, you can drastically alter your behavior and let go of the habits that are no longer serving you.

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