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5 Steps for Breaking a Bad Habit

Breaking bad habits is frustrating. Sometimes your body seems stubbornly determined to continue the habit despite your best efforts. If there’s some habit you really want to break here are the steps that will increase your chances of success.

  1. Identify one habit. If you try to break more than one habit at a time, you will almost certainly fail. Identify the habit that is causing you the most trouble and internalize your reasons for breaking it. Imagine the negative consequences of continuing the habit and the positive consequences of breaking it. Try to really feel it.
  2. Notice when you’re doing the habit. Some habits are so ingrained you do them on autopilot. If you’ve ever tried to stop biting your nails for example you might have suddenly found yourself biting your nails without conscious awareness. Start by making a mental note every time you catch yourself and be sure to congratulate yourself for noticing rather than beat yourself up for slipping into the habit. Noticing means you’re improving.
  3. Spot the triggers. Habits are part of a chain of behaviors, an “if this, then that” program running somewhere deep in your nervous system. Usually, habits are triggered by stress, anxiety, or boredom. When you know what that trigger is–or triggers, since many things can cause stress, anxiety, or boredom–then you can be on guard against the habit and do something to stop it.
  4. Substitute something better. Once you’ve identified your triggers you want to think of a replacement. It’s very hard to just not do a habit. Replacing a bad habit with a good one is much easier. If stress makes you want to smoke, make a plan that when you start to feel stress. Try gum instead. It doesn’t really matter what the new habit is as long as doesn’t carry its own dangers. If you eat a cheeseburger every time you want a cigarette, you’re really just creating a different problem for yourself.  
  5. Create an environment that facilitates success. If you find yourself absentmindedly pouring a drink or or lighting a cigarette, then those things are too readily at hand. Get those temptations out of the house. The more work you have to do to engage in a habit, the less likely you are to do it unconsciously. Conversely, keep the positive replacements handy. If you really want Oreos but you would have to go all the way to the store and there are apples at home, you will probably go for the apples, even if you would really prefer the Oreos.

Gardens Wellness Center is redefining the approach to detox. Our comfortable environment is designed to support the detox process while helping each client recognize their human dignity in recovery. Detox is the first step in recovery. Start your journey to wellness today by calling us for information:  (844) 325-9168