Almost everyone has at least one bad habit, often something that we began doing in childhood or adolescence. Usually, we decide to live with these weaknesses and chalk them up as “just a bad habit.” However, many habitual behaviors can be quite damaging, and we should not disregard them.
There the habits that many find repulsive – such as picking your nose or biting your nails – and there are the habits that can be downright harmful, like smoking or binge eating. Whether you want to avoid turning off coworkers and friends or change your ways for the benefit of your wellbeing, the following tricks can help you stop your bad habits once and for all.
1. Substitute bad with good
Every time you feel the need to do your bad habit, make the conscious decision to skip that habit and do something good instead. Since habits are a product of routine, it is tough to just stop doing them cold turkey. Instead, begin replacing your bad habit with a good one. For example, every time you go to bite your nails, you could do a pushup or drink a big swig of water instead. If you constantly substitute your nail-biting urge with a healthy action, you will start to make the good habits part of your routine. Eventually, the bad habit you used to be unable to avoid will disappear from your day to day life.
2. Figure out why you do it
One of the most important things to know when deciding to stop a bad habit is why you have that habit in the first place. There is always a reason for your bad habit, and once you figure out what that reason is, you can take steps to squash the habit. Common causes include boredom, stress, and even addiction. Once you find your trigger, you can either associate another better habit with that trigger, or you can take the necessary steps to stop the trigger altogether. If stress is the cause of your teeth-grinding or knuckle-cracking, work on some stress-reducing exercises. If it's boredom, find something more productive to pass your time, like a brain game.
3. Seek help from others
If you know other people who have the same bad habits as you do, it could be very beneficial to work on kicking those habits together. Find someone or a group of people to work with toward your goal of breaking the habit. They will give you the motivation you need as well as offer tips and advice on strategies that worked for them. When facing a difficult challenge, it is always better to take it on with a support system than to go after it all by yourself. Alternatively, if you're having trouble getting motivated when trying to implement a new good habit, you could hire some professional help, like a personal trainer or life coach.
When habits start intruding on your everyday life, you know it's time to make some changes. It's easy enough to kick a bad habit — you just need to know where to start.