Experts Share 6 Steps on How to Break Any Bad Habit and Replace It With a Better One
Every bad habit can be broken, psychologists say. And it sounds very promising and inspiring but you may be asking how to start this initial change. Or better yet, how do you not give up while in the middle of learning to practice a healthier habit?
We at Bright Side suggest following these 6 steps to help you change any bad habit, as is recommended by experts. There’s also a curious bonus at the end of the article about the nasty habit of picking your nose.
Step 1: Be honest with yourself.
The more honest you are with yourself about your bad habit, the more likely you’ll change it, psychologists say. People close to you who really care about your well-being can serve as a mirror and give you feedback about whether you have a problem or not. If someone constantly says that you poke your head all the time, maybe it’s a sign that you have a bad habit.
If you have already realized that your habit is bad, it’s a big win. You’ve made the first step. The psychological “wall” is broken and you can move onto the second step.
Step 2: Collect data and write it down.
A clinical psychologist suggests analyzing your habit on your own. As a good option, you can start your own diary. For example, you may have a habit of cracking your fingers or biting your nails. Start making some notes when you do it, identifying things like the feelings it gives you, when you started doing it, and pros and cons. This way, you can become even more conscious of your bad habit.
Collect this data for at least one week. Slowly, you can gain some understanding of what triggers your bad habit, whether it be feeling anxious or being bored.
Step 3: Manipulate your old bad habit.
For example, you may have realized that you have a bad habit of being late. You’ve analyzed that you like the attention when you’re the last one to enter a meeting or perhaps you enjoy the excitement. Simply put, this bad habit can give you some adrenaline and make your life feel more adventurous.
Now try to get the same satisfaction from something healthy. It could be in the form of physical exercise, for instance. Just find something nice that can bring the same emotions into your life instead of the old, bad habit. Switch it up!
Step 4: Be realistic and don’t rush yourself.
There’s a big possibility that you’ve been living with your old habit for years. It’s better not to demand too much from yourself, like changing completely in just a week. Don’t stress yourself out but enjoy the process. Set a reasonable goal.
If you’re tardy all the time and are often 30 minutes late, first set a goal to run late for 10 minutes. Then, slowly make it less and less every week.
Step 5: Use an app.
There are some useful apps that can help you record your results. For example, it can be online weight control or online sleep monitoring. Such apps will help you to measure your success so you can enjoy seeing it in real numbers, almost as proof that you’re doing good.
There’s also the possibility that your reinforcement system won’t work or that you’ll get more “pain” from breaking a habit and less pleasure from adopting a healthier one. This is fine. Just record it in your diary. You’ll probably need to rethink your reward system so that pleasure can increase. After you stop feeling much “pain” from losing your bad habit, you’ll be ready to move on to the next step.
Step 6: Look for additional support.
Reach out to your family members, friends, or even special clubs for additional support. For example, it’s always easier to lose weight with a friend. Just make an agreement that you will support and keep track of each other. For example, ask your mom or colleague to wake you up in the morning if you’re always late for work.
You can also get a personal trainer if you visit the gym or even find a new friend there. They can push you not to miss classes and give you additional stimulation.
Bonus: picking your nose as a habit
According to one survey, 8.7% of people claimed that they had never picked their nose. 91% stated that they were still actively practicing it. Despite the fact that our society tries to prevent this habit, there are scientists who argue that it has positive effects and can even serve as “a natural boost to the immune system.”
What’s a bad habit that you’d like to break? What’s been your biggest personal win on the way to adopting a healthier habit?