Breaking Bad Habits

Having a fulfilling life sometimes calls for breaking bad habits, which are issues people struggle with at various points in their lives. A natural human failing, we often develop behaviors that are counter to our interests, and some people repeatedly fall back on things, which are detrimental to their mental and physical health.

A habit is generally an unnecessary behavior that we repeat constantly and it is possible to perform these actions subconsciously, as well as consciously.

At times, habits may indicate the presence of a deeper underlying problem that people fall into the behavior as a way of coping with stress or personal challenges.

Developing Bad Habits

A major challenge to breaking bad habits is that we are capable of ingraining them into our daily lives and we are sometimes unaware or at least unwilling to admit the extent to which we repeat these patterns. Even what seems like a relatively harmless behavior such as nail biting can get worse over time.

Breaking bad habits means being aware of the basic actions leading to the development of habits, namely, cue and routine. Habit starts when something triggers the action, and repeating the action over time until it becomes the norm. This leads to even serious bad habits, such as addiction, as the cue. The desire to keep feeling the high leads to repeating the action, becoming the routine, which over time becomes a habit that is hard to break.

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Sometimes a habit evolves from a response to something or as a coping mechanism. An example of this is the student who constantly twirls his or her hair while studying. On a subconscious level, this helps them to deal with the pressure of upcoming exams. It all starts with the first step that is, the first time performing this particular action. Once the individual derives some level of satisfaction, he or she may repeat the action, even when it the original reason no longer exists.

Breaking Bad Habits

For many people, breaking the grip of bad behavior is not done by any hard and fast rules. With a little willpower, many have been able to change their ways and channel their energy into more constructive activities. In serious cases such as addiction, the approach is normally different, as planning and sometimes medical assistance is needed to help the person break their bad habits.

Some methods for breaking the negative patterns are:

  • Identify the triggers that cause your behavior, such as stress at work or arguments with loved ones. Some people act in unusual ways after a breakup, or because they are lonely. Once you come to grips with the factors that prompt negative behavior, it is easier to deal with it.
  • Find a new activity like going to the gym or joining a local walking club that are good ways to create new outlets. Keeping yourself busy will keep your mind off your problems and keep you from turning to the habit you want to break. Taking up or restarting a hobby is another useful activity.
  • Reach out by talking to those closest to you, which can work wonders in keeping your mind clear of negative thoughts. You could even make them aware of your negative behavior, so they can help to keep you from falling back on it.
  • Focus on the short term because it is not good to think about long term when breaking bad habits. Instead, it is best to set short-term goals, such as an hour or a day. You can celebrate the success for avoiding the bad habit for an hour, which will motivate you to continue for the next hour.

A person dealing with more than one negative behavior should never try to do too much at once. This is a certain path to failure, so it makes more sense to deal with one issue at a time. Some people reap success by turning to an entirely new activity they use only when they find themselves falling into their old habit. In essence, they develop a ritual only for those specific moments. Over time, these healthier habits would take the place of older ones.

Breaking bad habits requires a good support structure. Your friends and family do not need to know exactly what your problems are if you do not feel like sharing. They should however, understand that you need their help to stay busy and in a positive frame of mind.

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