For many of us, our constructive habits help us to successfully navigate daily life. For example, we may have a habit of brushing our teeth every day or we may have a habit of going to bed at 10 o'clock each night. Positive habits help us to do things such as maintain our health or our home. However, many people are also plagued by bad habits. These habits interrupt your life and can jeopardize your health. At the very least, they waste your time, energy and money.
All of the habits that you have now, both good or bad, are in your life for a reason. These actions provide a benefit to you, even if they are bad for you in other ways. Sometimes the benefit is physical and sometimes it's emotional. Typically, bad habits are a simple way to cope with stress.
Want to get rid of your bad habits? Here are some ideas for breaking your bad habits and changing your mindset:
Remove your triggers — If you like to enjoy a cigarette when you drink, then avoid the bar. If you eat candy and cupcakes when they are in the house, then get rid of them. Once you identify the triggers for your bad habits, you can make it easier on yourself to break those habits by avoiding the things that cause them.
Set goals — Recognizing that you have a problem is the first step. Taking action toward making a lifestyle change will move you closer to being successful in kicking your bad habits. Change is not easy and requires a serious commitment. Define your specific goals and work toward achieving them.
Find an accountability partner — The best way to be successful in reaching your goals is to hold yourself accountable to them. Or better yet, having to be accountable to someone else. Pair up with a friend, a neighbor or a co-worker and quit your bad habits together. You can hold each other accountable and celebrate your achievements together. Being held accountable by someone else is a powerful motivator.
Visualize — Visualization is a powerful mental tool. Visualize yourself throwing away the cigarettes or buying healthy food. Whatever the bad habit is that you are looking to break, visualize yourself enjoying your success.
Replace bad habits — We often need something to take the place of a habit to help us maintain focus in order to successfully kick a habit. In this case, it is recommended to replace your bad habit with a positive one. By replacing your bad habits with positive ones, like exercise, meditation, time with family, healthier foods and activities, etc., you are much less likely to trade one bad habit for another.
Reward system — It works for children and can work quite well for adults, too. Reward yourself for the goals that you achieve. For example, you can treat yourself to a spa day or fun outing for going a specified period of time without indulging in your bad habit. It may be easier to achieve your goals if you reward yourself with something positive to look forward to.
Coach yourself — Correct your mindset by using daily affirmations. Any statement you affirm over and over again, both positive or negative, will become more prominent in your life. It's important to choose your words carefully so as to encourage yourself to achieve the mindset you desire.
Set a reminder — Even with the best intentions, we fall into bad habits when our willpower fades. Which happens to even the best of us. You might promise only to have two drinks when going out with friends, for example, but forget that promise as soon as you step into the bar. Try setting up reminders in your calendar for yourself for your weakest moments.
Fine yourself — Make a bad habit a little more painful and you might ditch it for good. No one likes to "lose" money. And since money is a great motivator, this method may work well for you. Use the "swear jar" method and add $1 each time you repeat the negative action. It can work the other way as well, and you can reward yourself for beating your habit every day.
Support group — There is a reason why groups like Weight Watchers and Alcoholics Anonymous work so well. Joining a moderated support group of like-minded individuals who suffer from the same challenges and habits as you can be a very effective tactic. Working through issues and solving problems with people who share similar habits can be incredibly comforting and therapeutic.
Just remember that you hold the power to make the change. Change your habits and you just might change your life.
Danielle Moser is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.