Everybody has their crosses to bear. After all, we all have some form of bad habit, and while all of them may not be hugely detrimental to our health, there are many that we all know we shouldn’t take part in, whether it’s eating excess sugar, drinking alcohol, or, of course, smoking. And breaking these habits can be difficult if we’ve engaged with them for a long time. While there are many theories around how habits begin, there are approaches we can all use to give these up, including the following.
Replacing the Habit With a Different One
Lots of people find that stopping a certain behavior is difficult because of the withdrawal symptoms or, in the case of smokers, the fact that they need to do something with their fingers. For smokers, vaping has long been a very useful alternative, not just because it’s a good method to reduce nicotine intake, but it’s more socially acceptable in certain circles.
Additionally, it’s less of an expense which could help people to become more motivated to give this a try, for example, the cost of batteries. The fact that a battery of 18650 battery high drain variety and the cost of refills are infinitely cheaper than purchasing cigarettes can be a big motivator for many. But people can also do this with other habits, for example, the temptation to eat candy can be replaced with a handful of dried fruit and nuts as another snack option.
Identifying Your Triggers
Triggers are the first step to developing any habit, and if you identify the triggers behind your behaviors, you can learn to pass them. The best way to begin is to observe your unhealthy habits. When you start to notice locations, times of day, who’s involved and if it happens after something else, it can provide you with a timeline of triggers that can make it easier for you to reduce the temptations.
Ask Yourself Why You Want to Change
This may sound simple but if you don’t give yourself a valid reason why you want to give up this habit, you can easily fall back onto those behaviors. Asking yourself why you want to stop this habit is a prime motivator. When you really decide why you want to break your habits and the benefits that arise from this change, having a constant reminder can keep the idea fresh in your mind. This is especially true during those first few weeks of giving up. Habits can take a long time to break, which is why motivation is so important and remembering why you want to make these changes.
Give Yourself Reminders
This is crucial to helping you minimize your triggers. When you use stickers or notes where the habits occur it can potentially stop you in your tracks when you are experiencing the triggers. For example, if you drink a can of soda with every meal, you can leave a small note on the refrigerator to remind you before you go grab a can.
Don’t Try the Cold Turkey Method
A lot of people think that it’s just a battle of wills and they can get over this issue using sheer willpower. Many people adopt an all-or-nothing mindset when trying to stop a habit. The problem with this is that doubts begin to creep in. You may wonder at times if you can do this and this is when you may feel the temptation just to give up and give in. But if you’ve gone for a few days without having a cigarette and then slipped up and had one, there is no need to feel like a failure.
Because you have to remember you can choose to go back on the wagon tomorrow. This is why completely stopping something can be incredibly stressful. The additional stress associated with the pressure you are piling on yourself, combined with any withdrawal symptoms, can make it difficult for anyone. Rather than having an all-or-nothing mindset, you may want to consider a gradual approach to giving up.
Look at Your Successes
While you may have an end goal in sight, think about taking the smaller steps in the right direction. It’s very easy to slip back into old patterns and this is because change is a very difficult thing. Humans and not hardwired to adapt to change so quickly, which is why you need to prepare for some shaky ground. While it took some time to build unhealthy habits, making new ones will not happen overnight.
Change Your Surroundings
Your surroundings can have a big impact on the habits you make. For example, if you like eating take-out, rather than having take-out menus in your kitchen, replace the menus with printouts of recipes you like. It’s about making sure that you provide other options in those locations that cause you temptation. Another example would be having a book or sketch pad available near you rather than picking up your phone to go through social media.
Remember to Look After Yourself
You don’t have to completely put yourself through the wringer in order to achieve success. Many people believe that they need to go through tough times in order to reap the benefits. But this is where self-care is important because people find it easier to make positive changes when they start from a place of self-care.
Because if you are experiencing other challenges in your life, such as stresses or relationship issues, the added notion of breaking a habit can cause more distress. Self-care, in many ways, is simple: being physically active, relaxing, sleeping well, and eating healthy.
There are many approaches to giving up bad habits. If you smoke, you can start vaping and you can make healthier swaps, but it’s important to remember that the battle of giving up bad habits is about your mindset as well. Everybody has bad habits, but you have to remember that it takes time, approximately between 2 and 3 months to break an unwanted habit or even longer if the habit is truly embedded. As long as you are progressing in the right direction, this is all that matters.