How to Break Unhealthy Habits
Most of what we do every day is influenced by our habits and behaviour. Habits can either be unhealthy or healthy depending on how they affect our lives. We all know that unhealthy habits hold us back, hampering our ability to lead happy, productive and fulfilled lives. Shaking an unhealthy habit is easier said than done, but it can be done. The first step is acknowledging that you have an unhealthy habit. The next step is knowing how to beat it. If you’re trying to shake an unhealthy habit, give these strategies a go to break that habit.
Make a specific plan
You need more than just willpower to kick an unhealthy habit; you need a how! You need to have a specific plan of how you'll respond when you’re feeling less motivated to make the right choice. Pre-planning your response will reduce the level of self-discipline that you’ll need in that moment of temptation. Identify healthy distractions to break the unhealthy habit, and constantly remind yourself why you’re trying stop the habit.
Habits can be a product of circumstance and time. Over time, being in a certain environment may lead to an unhealthy habit unintentionally. For example, bingeing on junk food may be triggered by the habit of turning on the TV and sitting on the couch after getting home from work. Pay attention to when and where your unhealthy habits occur, and then avoid the triggers you have identified.
Replace the habit
Rather than completely stopping the habit, a more effective approach could be to modify or substitute an unhealthy habit with a healthy habit. If you tend to drink too much while out with friends, try substituting alcoholic drinks with alcohol-free drinks. If the substitute fulfills some of same desires, it can make it easier to break the habit.
Aim for gradual progress
Don’t be too hard on yourself. While you may want to quit the habit immediately, that’s probably too much to ask. Try for small steps, and set up simple goals that are achievable instead. Slow, steady improvements are more reliable and, importantly, sustainable. You’re more likely to stick with a small, manageable change than a huge dramatic one. When you’re setting goals, consider using SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-based) goals.
Remember why it’s unhealthy for you
By definition, an unhealthy habit must be harmful in some way. Focusing on this negative aspect will make the habit a lot less tempting. If you want to spend less time on social media, focus on how much time you’re wasting and how much more productive you can be. Resist overeating by recalling how unhealthy it is to eat too much.