Are you struggling with a bad habit and want to break it but don’t know where to start?
This article is just for you. It will help you discover ways of making good habits, breaking bad habits.
What exactly is a habit?
It is a behavior or activity that is done on a regular basis.
Everyone develops habits throughout time, some of which are useful and others harmful.
Bad habits are negative behaviours while good habits are positive behaviours.
People usually develop these unhealthy habits when they are bored or stressed as a coping mechanism.
They have the following effects: •health problems
•obstacles to achieving life’s objectives
•loss of time and energy
Examples of poor habits
• chewing one’s nails
• picking one’s nose
• Abuse and misuse of drugs and other substances
• phone addiction
• hair pulling
• cursing and swearing
• consuming junk food
Examples of good habits
• spending time with God by reading and meditating upon His word and praying daily.
• talking politely by using cautious words such as thank you, please, sorry and welcome.
• proper grooming and hygiene
• healthy eating
• putting your phone on silent or vibration mode during a meeting
From her book on breaking bad habits, Joyce Meyer shares that good habits bring forth peace, joy and power into our lives, while the bad habits rob us of our peace and joy and hinder success.
How habits are formed
When you frequently repeat a behavior it becomes automatic.
The habit loop is a term used to describe the process of habit creation.
It consists of the following components:
What causes or motivates you to engage in a particular behavior. Take, for example, biting your nails when you’re worried or tensed. Worry and tension are the triggers to your nail biting habit.
A pattern formed due to repeated actions or behaviours.Biting your nails is your routine as you repeat the action whenever you are under tension.
The benefit obtained from the habit like relaxation or relief from stress. Feeling relaxed when you bite your nails is the reward in this case. This reward will cause you to continue biting your nails whenever you are uncomfortable or tense.
The process of breaking a bad habit successfully begins by accepting that you have a habit that is harmful. Then you must be willing to solve the problem. Finally you must take action to break the habit.
12 Tips for Making Good Habits, Breaking Bad Habits
1. Goal setting
Recognize why you want to stop the habit and the advantages of doing so. Then set your goals or what you aim to achieve and note them down as positive phrases such as ‘I will practise good table manners’ instead of ‘I will stop talking when eating’
Avoid negative thoughts and words.
2. Replace the previous behavior with a new one
Bad behaviours are replaced as it is very hard to simply eliminate them. This is because they met a certain need in your life thus you need to find a good behaviour to replace them with that will also fulfil the need.
For example, when you feel tired you eat sweets for energy. Instead, you can eat fruits which will give you more energy and are a healthy snack option.
3. Identify your triggers
Determine the pattern of the habit you are working to replace.
• What motivates you to engage in the behavior?
• When and where it happens?
• How you feel after engaging in the behavior?
Then concentrate on removing these triggers from your life. For instance, drinking alcohol when you go out with your friends. In this case you should avoid hanging out with such friends who are a bad influence. You can do enjoyable activities that are helpful such as swimming and sports.
4. Have reminders
Write notes to remind yourself on what to avoid and what to do instead. Place them in places that you can easily see them such as on the computer,door, mirror, kitchen wall, refrigerator or where the habits frequently occurs. For example you can put a note in the toilet to remind you to flash after use.
5. Make gradual adjustments
If you have several unhealthy behaviours that you want to break, chose one to start with then continue with the others one habit at a time. With each habit proceed gradually so that your mind and body can adjust well to the changes.
Wanting to do everything at once or abruptly may overwhelm you and cause you to slip back to the old habit as the body is unable to cope with the sudden changes.
6. Get help from friends and family
Find someone you trust that understands you to motivate and keep you focused on your goals.
You may also team up with someone you share the same objectives to encourage each other along the way.
7. Affirm yourself daily
Speak positive about yourself and how you are achieving your objectives. Words have power and if you declare success you will indeed succeed.
Find inspiration in the bible, inspirational quotes and motivational videos to help you maintain a positive outlook in life.
8. Reward Yourself Regularly
Acknowledge your progress and celebrate it every step of the way no matter how small it may be.
You can buy yourself gifts or go out for a treat.
This will help boost your motivation to working harder towards your goals.
9. Be ready for setbacks
You may make some mistakes along the way, so be mentally prepared so you don’t become overwhelmed.
Setbacks should not discourage you but act as lessons to learn from. When you fall down pick yourself up, shake the dust off and carry on.
10. Self care
Maintain your overall health by doing the following:
•eating a balanced diet
•getting quality and adequate rest
•taking an off to relax and engage in your hobbies.
•regularly exercising your body
11. Seek medical advice from a qualified professional
If you’re having trouble breaking a habit on your own, it’s causing you a lot of disturbances, or it’s a more serious habit like drug addiction, seek the help of a therapist or counsellor for advice and support.
12. Wait patiently
Habits are formed over time and thus breaking them requires some time.
Research suggests that a habit is broken from 18 to 254 days.
Factors that may affect the length of time it takes to break a habit include:
•the habit itself
•the length time you’ve been doing it
•the physical, emotional, and social benefits that the habit provides. • •the support you have
•additional habits that encourage the habit
•your level of motivation
With dedication and consistency you can effectively turn bad behaviors into good ones. Commit them to the Lord and He will see you through. Here’s a breaking bad habits quote from the bible to inspire you on your journey.
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you. He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalms 55:22
May Gods grace be sufficient for you.