Everyone has a bad habit. Whether it’s smoking, eating junk food, fidgeting, chewing gum, oversharing on social media or tapping your fingers, a bad habit can harm your happiness, health or relationships. How to break bad habits smoothly and for good?
Most people are aware of their poor habits and they are often desperately trying to kick them. However, this doesn’t always go as planned and the vast majority falls right back into their old ways. We have good news!
While some of the bad habits are pretty harmless in every way – tapping feet or fingers or fidgeting – there are those habits that are harmful to our health, relationships and happiness – smoking and eating poorly come to mind.
At the very core of kicking bad habits is understanding their origins and how they form. If you are wondering how to break bad habits for good, then, you should understand your triggers, and then you can move on to learning how to beat those bad habits.
9 Bad Habits That Ruin Your Life
Here are some ways to let go of your bad habits and move on to a new and better life.
1. Snacking Non-Stop – Even When You’re Not Hungry
Comfort eating. Stress eating. Whatever the cause, eating when you’re not hungry or snacking non-stop can be a seriously bad habit. Why? It can cause you to lose touch with your body’s natural hunger and satisfaction signals and this can pack on the pounds – leading to heart disease and diabetes.
How to break bad habits of eating junk – wait until you’re truly hungry to eat. If you -think- you’re hungry, try drinking water – you might just be thirsty. Stop eating before you feel stuffed – just before you feel full and wait a few minutes. You’ll eat less this way and that can translate to weight loss.
2. Eating Too Much Junk Food and Skipping Breakfast
This ties in closely with number one. Not only can you lose track of natural feelings of hunger and fullness, if you’re snacking primarily on processed and junk foods, you’re filling your body with unhealthy ingredients. Switching to healthy snacks and meals can cut calories, get your body the nutrients it needs, and this can translate to feeling better and dropping weight.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for a reason. It fuels your body and gets it ready to take on the day ahead. Skipping it can cause serious issues with your blood sugar levels and actually slow down your metabolism. Even if you just nosh on a piece of whole-wheat toast or bran flakes it signals to your body to kick your metabolism into gear. Break the habit by listening to your body.
Not hungry when you first get up? Wait an hour or two and then eat. Another tip is to eat what you like. Not a fan of breakfast food? Eat a sandwich.
3. Spending Too Much Time Watching TV
Sure, we all have our must-watch shows or have gone on a Netflix binge. The more time you spend in front of the TV, however, leaves less time for exercise. TV time instead of engaging in hobbies or exercising your brain can also speed up memory loss.
Break the habit by setting a limit on your TV time – no more than 2 hours a day. Also, aim for 30 minutes of exercise. You can also limit TV time by only turning on the television when you have something specific you want to watch.
4. Smoking Cigarettes
How to break bad habits slowly killing you? The statistics don’t lie. Smoking is the cause of 30% of heart disease deaths and nearly a third of all cancer deaths. It is also responsible for 80-90% of all lung cancers. Quitting smoking is also one of the hardest habits to break due to the addiction strength of nicotine. While some people can just quit cold turkey, others need help. Consider switching to vaping.
Studies indicate that vaping may be healthier than cigarettes – there are none of the carcinogens associated with smoking cigarettes. Vape juice, also known as e-juice comes in many tasty flavors and nicotine levels. Start with the one best suited for your smoking habit and gradually decrease until you can completely say goodbye to the habit.
5. Abusing or Overusing Painkillers
Over time, medications like ibuprofen and aspirin can increase your risk of developing ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, high blood pressure, and heart attacks. Prescribed painkillers like Vicodin or Oxycodone, if taken incorrectly can develop into a habit that can damage your liver. Break the painkiller dependency by taking medications only as they are prescribed. You can also look into alternative therapies such as acupressure or other herbal remedies. If you live in a medical marijuana state, talk to your doctor about your symptoms and how medical marijuana might be able to help you.
6. Drinking Too Much Alcohol
Alcohol can turn into a poison if you overdrink too often. Women who consume more than 2 drinks per day and men who down more than 3 drinks per day increase their risks of certain cancers, high blood pressure, depression, and of course, liver damage. Curb the habit by limiting yourself to one drink per day if you are female and two drinks per day if you are male. If you’re having issues quitting drinking or cutting down – contact your doctor or reach out to friends or family members for help and support.
7. Getting Too Many Sunburns
The commitment to maintaining that sun-bronzed skin may look great.. but there’s a drawback. It also begins to prematurely age your skin. It destroys the fibers that keep skin elastic and looking great. More importantly, just a few sunburns can increase your chances of skin cancer. Break the habit by making a habit of applying sunscreen. Use a high SPF sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging rays. You can get that bronzed look with self-tanners without the cancer risk.
8. Skimping On Sleep
Consistently getting by on just a few hours sleep can really affect your mood, concentration, and even your immune system. Loss of sleep can affect your body’s ability to fight off germs and pathogens. It can also lead to an increase in the stress hormone cortisol, which can trigger stress eating and cause weight gain. Break the habit by getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
9. Not Exercising
Not exercising can be nearly as bad as not smoking. Experts are in agreement: an inactivity epidemic is worse than the obesity epidemic. Exercise is a natural inflammation fighter and one of the largest killers, heart disease, is associated with inflammation. Exercise also boosts mood and helps fight depression. Break the habit by scheduling time to at least go for a 30-45 minute walk daily. Incorporate strength training into your TV time by doing dumbbell curls while you sit and watch. It will help burn calories and help you lose weight.
Here To Break Your Bad Habits and Annihilate Them for Good
These habits could sabotage your efforts to lose weight and live a healthy life. Bad habits are hard to break, but by tackling them one at a time and overcoming them, you can be on your way to a healthier lifestyle.
Understand how and why a habit forms
How to break bad habits? Understand them first. As mentioned, one of the first things you should do is understand how bad habits – or any habits for that matter – form. For one, this is just what our mind does. Our brains are built to form these neural pathways that give us the best results. When a desire triggers a reaction that satisfies the urge, the brain remembers this. The next time you have a desire, the brain just uses the system that worked before. This is in part, neurochemistry.
When your urge is satisfied – for hunger, soothing or anything else – we experience a rush of dopamine which is related to feeling good. After you get a few of those dopamine doses, you start wanting more. This drives you to indulge in the harmful behaviour whether it’s smoking, chewing gum or simply being on your phone.
“Why is this important? How can it help me? “, are some questions that you might ask.
In truth, when you understand what causes a habit to form, you have a better chance of noticing it and taking steps that lead to better choices. So, the next time you feel the urge to fulfil your needs and continue with a habit, retrace your steps and see how the habit reinforces itself and what causes it to form.
Change your mindset
Now, recognizing the problem, the triggers, the causes and the brain’s learned way to deal with problems is just the beginning of learning to let go of them. You should also start with a determination to do things differently. This determination should also be connected with something that has a deep meaning for you. This, in other words, means that you need to find the force of ‘I won’t’ powerful enough to beat the force of ‘I want’.
This willpower is your ability to connect with your brain system in terms of thinking about long-term results and goals instead of thinking about short-term desires and needs. You will still feel the emotion, the craving but at the same time, you will be aware of it enough to stop and think before fulfilling your urges. Over time, you develop mechanisms that allow you to stop going for the same old habits.
How to Break Bad Habits with The HALT method
When you understand what you want – the reason behind the change – you begin to work on being stronger in your ability to choose differently. However, as anyone who has ever tried to kick a bad habit knows, this willpower is often not enough when it comes to changing. This is why scientists developed an acronym HALT that can help you understand and overcome the challenges.
If you feel the need to fulfill your bad habits, think first if you have this feeling. Impulse control is complex and it’s really a battle between the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. If you have a shortage of calories this will change the battle and it will be difficult to activate your willpower.
Feelings of anger or anxiousness can often put our bodies and minds into a fight or flight mode. This is when we start operating with our most primitive parts of the brain and in this mode our rational brain parts shut down. This decreases our ability to resist the urges we have or even consider the long-term results and consequences. So, the next time you feel an urge to fall into bad habits, think about your emotions, take a few deep breaths and take a beat before you make a decision.
When we share our commitment with other people we often follow through. Every person has to make a balance between their solitude and social life in order to kick habits successfully.
When depressing thoughts such us asking yourself ‘why am I so lonely‘ stop you from forming better habits, cut them off. Solitude is a virtue, forgotten in western countries. A healthy amount of alone helping to get in peace and get to know yourself better.
When we are tired, our willpower tends to die down. Establish healthy sleep habits in order to be in a good position to kick your bad habits.
First, set reasonable goals
The next step is actually diving deep into your issues and starting with the process of avoiding your old habits. In order to do this, you need some goals. Start with small victories – smoke one less cigarette a day, avoid one junk meal, drink one less glass of wine and so on. As you move on, you can increase your goals but only when you are ready. This way, your mind and body will get used to the change in a calm, healthy way and you’ll be far less likely to fall off the wagon.
Measure your success and don’t give up
How to break your habits and actually know how your progress is going? Set your goals. When you set your goals, it might be a good idea to write them down in order to measure your success. Take your previous habits as a base and mark all the changes you make. Also, never give up, especially not if you fall off the wagon once in a while. This is not such a big deal as long as it’s a one-time thing and you get right back to the schedule later.
Fine yourself for every offense
People have concluded that attaching a monetary value to your offenses can be an effective way to get rid of them. This works like your average swear jar would. For instance, you smoke 5 cigarettes in a day even though you decided that you’ll smoke 4 – fine yourself. And set a specific amount of money it will cost you – a dollar or five and so on.
An even better solution than a swear jar would be to give the money away – to street artists or poor people. You could always take money back from a jar but try taking that same money from someone else’s hands after you’ve already given it to them.
Do it with someone
How to break bad habits in a more fun way? Do it with someone.
Everything is much easier when you have someone to share it with. For example, if you make a decision to get up early to run, you’ll have a much easier time doing it with a friend. On the mornings you don’t feel like running or getting up, your friend can push you and on the days your friend doesn’t feel like getting up, you can push him.
You can do things together and push each other further. It’s also useful because there will be less social pressure to go back to your old ways when there is two of you – or more. You’ll have a good support system and you’ll be happier with your decisions, especially if you want to kick bad habits that are strongly associated with social aspect of your life like drinking, smoking, eating junk food and so on.
Change your environment and routine
Once you figure out your triggers, you can commit to avoiding them. For instance, if you are a smoker and social events or drinking trigger more smoking, you should avoid those situations as much as you can. This way, you’ll limit the number of chances to indulge in your bad habit and you’ll be able to get rid of it with ease.
However, adjust yourself to those situations slowly because you don’t want to be triggered again once you get rid of the habit completely. Even after a lot of time, certain events could trigger you to go back. So, avoid these situations for a while but then start adapting yourself and your new habits to that activity. For instance, go out drinking with your friends but don’t smoke. It will be much easier after a while.
Kick Your Bad Habits With These Five Steps
Kicking habits has never been easy. But if you are truly committed, you can do it by following these steps and learning how to deal with your bad habits.