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Ways to break bad habits

Breaking a bad habit, whether it’s biting your nails, quitting smoking or cutting out sugar seems almost impossible at first. But the good news is that no matter how deeply ingrained a habit is you can be free of it. Here’s how.

Step 1

The first step to breaking a bad habit is in really wanting to. In order to successfully break a habit your mindset needs to change from one of hopeless addiction to one of positivity and commitment to your goal. If your habit is negatively impacting you and those around you it’s time to take power back over your life and remind yourself on a daily basis that you don’t need to be a slave to anything.

Step 2

Figure out the pattern of your behaviour and what is triggering it. You need to interrupt the behaviour in order to break the habitual loop. For example, in the case of someone who smokes. If you tend to smoke after a meal, break the cycle by brushing your teeth instead. Breaking a habit is all about substituting your behaviour with something healthier. It’s also vital that you remove as far as possible anything from your surroundings that will trigger you or make it easy for you to continue your habit. Change your environment if necessary.

Step 3

A huge part of why people develop negative habits in the first place is because they are bored or stressed. You should make it a goal to find healthier ways to relieve stress and keep your mind occupied on things that are good for your soul, such as breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, exercise or taking up a hobby.

Step 4

Set a manageable goal for yourself. Give yourself a timeframe to break your habit and stick to it. It’s important that you hold yourself accountable. It takes approximately 21 days of conscious and consistent effort to create a new habit. When you start off try to space out acting on what you’re addicted to in ever increasing time increments.

Step 5

Share your goal with others. Getting those that love and support you involved will help you stay on track, stay motivated and feel good.

Step 6

Practice mindfulness and visualize yourself succeeding. This is crucial and will help you take control back over your life. Be aware of your thought processes when you start craving what you’re addicted to. When you become more aware you are able to change your perspective and realize that you are ultimately in control of your thoughts and actions and the way you respond to situations.

Step 7

Reward yourself by substituting your habit with something else that you enjoy and that truly benefits your life. For instance, if you’re trying to stop smoking, reach for some sparkling water instead. If you’re trying to break the habit of procrastinating, start off small. Focus on your work for an hour, then take a 30 minute break, then get back to work and repeat the process.

Step 8

Be kind to yourself. During the process of breaking a habit, be patient, non-judgemental and loving towards yourself. Stop the negative self-talk. Having a positive mindset will help you break your habit faster and more sustainably.

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Written by Taryn Hill

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