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Health & Wellness - How to break up with a bad habit
Thursday, March 9, 2017 - 00:00 Courtney Rupertus
A bad habit is simply something that we do day in and day out that we know isn’t benefitting us in the long run, but we just can’t help ourselves from doing it. From there, we usually rationalize or give ourselves permission to keep doing it “one last time”, which turns into a harmful cycle of negative self-talk.
It’s not to say that everyone needs to quit doing certain things, but rather if you find yourself stuck in the same cycle of thinking that resembles the following: “I should really quit this habit, it’s so bad for me,” to “Oh, maybe just one last time, I’m really stressed and I deserve it,” and finally to, “Why did I do that? I’m so bad,” then it has become an obstacle to leading a healthy, fulfilling life.
The best way to break up with any bad habit is to first identify your triggers, likely stress or boredom. Before you start to quit whatever your habit may be, take some time to document a full week of living out your bad habit(s). Take stock of how many times you find yourself craving, wanting, needing to do that habit, how often and what kind of thoughts you use to give yourself permission to do it, and how you talk to yourself after you’ve gone through with the habit.
Block out the times of day that you typically spend doing your habit and plan to switch out your negative habit for a positive one. This is a whole lot easier than trying to go cold turkey and eliminate a habit altogether. For example, if you are trying to avoid checking your phone for 20 minutes every morning, try filling that same block of time with another habit that will positively influence the rest of your day, like sipping on a hot cup of tea or lemon water.
Each time your old habit might creep up during the day, you’ll need a plan and a healthier substitute. Slowly, over time, you will automatically perform the new habit instead of the old one. This will take time and willpower. You may slip up, so if you do, be gentle with yourself, forgive the slip up without the guilt trip, and start fresh the next day. Don’t let a couple little hiccups along the way derail you completely.
The last thing you want to do when trying to break up with a bad habit is try to make yourself into some new and wonderful person. A lot of times we overwhelm ourselves with trying to change too many things at once, or trying to change what cannot be changed. The whole goal of letting go of bad habits is to break the negative thought patterns that come attached to them, so don’t introduce new ones.
Be kind to yourself and think of your new habits as ways of telling yourself that you are important. .
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