Tips to Help you Deal with Bad Habits

None of us are perfect and with our imperfections come bad habits. Whether it's pilling up clothes on top of a chair, leaving our shoes in the middle of the house instead of putting them where they belong, or leaving our wet towel after a shower on the bed. Other's struggle with different bad habits relating to food and exercise. Whatever the case may be, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and you don't have to become a prisoner of those bad habits that haunt you.

Letting go of those bad habits is hard mainly because we usually don't respond well to change or are not open to it. The first step of recognizing you need to leave those habits behind is accepting that it's affecting your life. Then, picture what your life would be like without them. 

Our habits are driven by a series of 3 sequential steps know as:

  • Trigger (what starts the habit)
  • Routine (performing the habit or behavior itself)
  • Reward (the benefit that comes with the behavior)

Each time this pattern is repeated it eventually becomes an automatic action which then turns into a habit. The reason why it can be so hard to break a bad habit is because your brain begins to crave since it has become accustomed to the action or the habit. 

Here are some strategies you can apply in order to help you break your bad habits:

1. Control your Stress

Bad habits like binge eating, smoking, or over indulging on chocolate are all associated with your brain's Dopamine or reward system. Dopamine is a "feel-good" chemical in the brain that transmits signals between neurons in your brain. When you first engage in a new "rewarding" behavior like eating chocolate, you get a euphoric feeling of satisfaction which is created by Dopamine. This transmits changes between neurons and the brain system responsible for action which is how we start to form bad habits.

When you are stressed you tend to search for that immediate relief which is usually only temporary. Seek ways to relieve your stress by exercising, meditating, talking about it, writing, or going for a walk. A good amount of sleep is also essential for stress relief. 

2. Get Rid of Triggers

Triggers are huge instigators of bad habits. As aforementioned, bad habits are formed through a series of 3 steps. Knowing your triggers or at least making an effort to reduce them is a good way to gradually let go of a bad habit. If you're trying to quit smoking, then get rid of any ash trays you have at home and try to distance yourself from those who smoke in order to avoid temptation. If you're trying to eat less at night, get rid of all the unhealthy snacks and try to replace your craving with a healthy choice. Sometimes a trigger can also be associated with the environment itself. If you feel the people that surround you or the place where you are is affecting you negatively, then maybe it's time to reevaluate.

3. Have a Strong Reason for Quitting

In order to effectively get rid of a bad habit in the long-term, have a strong reason why you should quit in the first place. For example, if you're struggling with your weight, your initial reason to lose the pounds may be because you want to feel better about yourself. But try taking it a step further by putting other things into perspective, like how eating healthier may allow you to do those outdoor activities you used to enjoy with your loved ones. Taking your reasons a step further may provide more motivation to get it done.