Breaking bad habits can often seem like a never-ending battle. You may find you’re making progress only to slip back into old ways without warning, and these setbacks can be demoralising, which make it harder to try again in the future. However, finding the courage and strength to live a healthier life by breaking your bad habits is easier than you make think. With the right plan in place and enough support in the form of friends, family, or services, and you can be well on your way to achieving your goals. In this article, we’ll look at how you can break bad habits without looking back so that you can focus on enjoying life to its fullest.
As we age, we develop a range of bad habits. Some of these may be ones that you’ve had since childhood, like biting your fingernails when you’re stressed. Others may have developed along the way, such as excessive drinking or smoking. Whatever your habits are, when you decide you want to make lifestyle changes to improve your health and wellbeing, it’s crucial that you don’t set an unrealistic target. Start small by choosing one habit to tackle at a time; if you try to do them all at once, it will most likely become overwhelming, which could lead to failure.
Ask Yourself Why
Once you’ve chosen which habit you’d like to break, it’s time to ask yourself why. While asking yourself this question may seem redundant when you’ve already made a decision, it’s essential for solidifying your resolve, which will help you on your journey to freeing yourself of this habit. Consider why you want to make the change, why it’s important to you, and what you hope to achieve by breaking this habit. With all this in mind, the next step is to write your answers down and put them somewhere you can see each day, as this will help you if you begin to falter and will remind you of why you are making this lifestyle change.
Understand Your Triggers
When you embark on a lifestyle change, it can be challenging to stick to it in the beginning, especially if you don’t understand what your triggers are for slipping back into those habits. Once you know why you want to make the change, you should also spend some time considering what triggers could cause you stress or situations that you would usually perform these habits, such as social drinking at the pub or smoking with friends during a night out, which could lead to setbacks. Once you know what your triggers are, it will make it easier to avoid or prepare for them so that they don’t cause you to slip back into your bad habits.
Use Tools To Help
When you first begin to break bad habits, it can be challenging to go it alone without help, and there are plenty of tools to assist you in your goals, such as online support, sprays to stop you from chewing your fingernails, or nicotine replacement devices for smokers.
For instance, if you want to quit smoking, not using nicotine replacement devices could lead to failure, but with so many to choose from, it can be overwhelming when trying to find what works for you. A popular choice in the range on the market is vaping devices. Vaping provides you more freedom to break your habit down into sections where you can tackle each aspect of it individually. You can start by reducing your nicotine intake over time by using liquids of different strengths and then move on to reducing how often you use the vape device to beat the physical habit. However, if you do choose to vape, it’s important that you understand the rules surrounding its use, as you don’t want to land in any trouble, especially if you’re travelling to other countries.
Enlist Help From Friends Or Family
Whether the habit you’re hoping to break is small or large, going at it alone can be a lonely experience and often leads to setbacks. In order to avoid setbacks, try enlisting the help of your friends or family so that they can support you in any way you need as you work toward getting rid of this bad habit and living a healthier lifestyle. Having people in your corner will provide you with a safe space to vent your frustrations during the more difficult moments of your goal and will also give you people to offer advice if you’re having trouble getting to your next milestone.
Swap Bad Habit For Good Ones
When breaking bad habits, simply avoiding the habit can be challenging. Instead, try swapping the habit for a healthier choice. Suppose you’re trying to snack on unhealthy foods less often or have a weakness for chocolates and sweets; instead of avoiding them altogether, try swapping them out for better options. During the times you would typically be devouring a chocolate bar or a bag of sweets, consider a bowl of blueberries and yoghurt, banana on toast, mixed nuts, dried fruits, apples and peanut butter, or red peppers and hummus. All of these options are healthier than snacking on crisps, chocolates, or sweets and will give you a boost of energy to get through your day without feeling sluggish, but they are also tasty options that will help you swap your bad habit for a good one.
Being mindful is essential whenever you’re trying to break a habit, learn something new, or if you’re facing a stressful situation as it helps to centre you and provides you with the focus you need to succeed. There are many ways you can incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine, and it’s important that you find the way that you find most enjoyable and suits your personality.
With so much choice, it can be hard to decide what to try. However, so long as your chosen activity gives you time to reflect and destress, it will be the perfect way to add mindfulness to your day. Below we’ve listed some ideas to provide you with inspiration and help you get started:
- Creative outlet through art, doodling, colouring books
- Daily walks
- An hour of quiet with a cup of tea
- Oil burners, incense, or candles
- A soak in a bath
- Deep breathing exercises
Habits are second nature, especially for ones like fingernail biting, and it can be difficult to keep them at the forefront of your mind when you’re trying to break them. To help you remember to stop your habit, place little reminders around your home and in your phone to help keep you on track. These reminders could be a simple as remembering to use the spray to stop you chewing your nails or what not to pack for your lunch and snack if you’re trying to eat healthily. Additionally, if your goal is to quit smoking, motivational notes to yourself can help boost your morale in the morning and remind you to take spare batteries or chargers if you’re using a nicotine replacement device.
Prepare For Setbacks
No matter how hard you try, setbacks can happen. When you experience a setback, it can derail your goal and cause you to give up. However, if you prepare for setbacks by considering your triggers beforehand, you should be able to navigate them more easily and, in some cases, avoid them occurring.
Record Your Progress
It can be hard to see your progress as you tackle a bad habit, which is why you should record your daily or weekly progress. By keeping a record of what your good points were and where you struggled, you will be able to look back and see your progress more clearly. When you have tangible evidence of how hard you’ve worked and how far you’ve come, it will make seeing your goal through to the end much more manageable and will give you an extra boost in confidence as you can take pride in your efforts. Additionally, when recording your progress, consider adding photos of your favourite moments to help boost your confidence even more.
Care For Yourself
Sometimes, when people are focused on a goal, they forget other aspects of their lives which could lead to a decline in health, especially if they forget basic self-care. When you’re making a lifestyle change, in order to be successful, you also need to practice self-care. Don’t forget to look after your mental and physical health by ensuring you are eating well, getting enough sleep, and taking time to rest away from the stresses of your day.
Finally, when making lifestyle changes, you should always be patient with yourself. We are our own worst critics, and many people can often become discouraged if they don’t see results fast enough. Changing habits doesn’t happen overnight, and you will need to spend the time working on this change to ensure it sticks. Don’t rush the process by being impatient, as this is more likely to lead to failure than success, which is why it is vital you give yourself plenty of time to achieve your goals.