6 Tips to Breaking Unhealthy Habits
Quit smoking. Lay of junk food. Stop being a couch potato. Don’t stay up too late.
Sounds simple enough: If you have a bad habit, break it. But ‘’simple’’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘’easy’’. You’ll need a good strategy.
- Think about It- knowing you need to break a bad habit is often not motivating to do it. Usually, there’s a good reason for doing it.
For example, sometimes people who smoke feel like smoke breaks are the only time they can step away from their work during the day. Eating is a way to bond with friends and family, so sometimes people go along with the crowd and eat what everyone else eat instead of choosing foods their bodies need. But are those ‘’benefits’’ really benefits? You can still take a break and go outside without smoking. You can enjoy a good meal with friends and choose healthy foods.
Figure out what you’ll get when you quit the habit:
You’ll feel better when you take care of your health.
Your chances of diseases or conditions your bad habit can go down.
When you quit smoking, you’ll save money, and your clothes, breath, home won’t smell like smoke.
More activity and better foods can help you lose a few pounds and feel more comfortable in your clothes.
Getting more sleep will give you more energy.
- Break It Down
Trying to do much can be overwhelming. Put your plan into small steps and goals. One way to do that is a trick from the business world called SWOT, which stands for:
Strengths: What are you already doing right? What skills do you have?
Are you a good cook who can make healthy meals that are also delicious?
Are you good at scheduling, so you make time to exercise?
Who will support you in this? Friends, family, co-workers?
Weaknesses: What could get in your way?
Do you procrastinate, so you don’t have time to prepare healthy meals?
Does stress cause you to have a hard time sleeping?
Does time management force you to skip the gym?
What changes do you need to make?
Opportunities: Where can you find chances to help yourself break your bad habit?
Can you join a club or support group?
Does your workplace have a gym?
Are there apps to help you plan your activities or track your progress?
Threats: What happens if you don’t make the change? What can throw a wrench into your plans?
Is your schedule constantly changing?
Do people around you make negative comments or try to pressure you to stick to your bad habits?
Plan how you’ll respond to this challenges. Take a minute and write all of your responses to this down. It’ll help you sort through it.
- Set Small Goals – Going cold turkey can be very hard. So don’t
Instead of not eating sweets, start with one less snack each day.
If you want to become more active, start with walking after dinner.
Can’t sleep? Set alarm to remind you turn off the TV, phone, or computer an hour before you want to go to bed. Aim for things you are pretty sure you can do. Small victories can motivate you to aim higher.
- Swap Bad for Good – it’s important to add good habits to replace bad ones. Otherwise, the stuff you want to stop doing will probably come back. For example, people quit smoking can replace it with eating too much. Packing healthy snacks can be a good replacement. It might be great that you turn off the computer in time to wind down and fall asleep, but if you replace that with looking at your phone or watching TV, that’s probably not going to help. Instead, try meditating, writing in a journal, or reading something on paper. (Light from a screen can keep you awake.) Make sure you enjoy your new healthy habit. If you hate running on a treadmill, chances are you won’t stick with it. If you don’t like broccoli, there’s no point in loading your plate with it because you won’t enjoy it. Change one habit at a time. Trying to do too much at once can be overwhelming. It can make you feel like you don’t know where to start, so you don’t start at all. As you meet each goal, try to add another one. Don’t rush it. Chances are you didn’t develop the bad habit overnight, so give yourself the time to develop the new one. It can take 2 to 3 months for a habit to really take hold.
- Track Your Progress- keep a daily make record of the changes you make. If you haven’t met your goals for the week think, about what went wrong, then adjust. If you’ve met your goals, give yourself a little reward. Seeing things add up – like your work –outs or the days since you’ve had a cigarette – can motivate and encourage you.
- Forgive Yourself – Setbacks are normal. Don’t beat yourself up. Think back to when you first started, look at your daily record, and remind yourself of how far you’ve come. One slip-up doesn’t wipe all of that out. Pick up where you left off.
Breaking a bad habit is about the journey, not the destination.