Mark Jackson
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Some habits become addictive.  It is very difficult to change those bad habits.  For example, an alcoholic cannot get rid of his habit easily.

 

In such extreme cases, it is wise to seek professional help. Reach out to a doctor or therapist at the earliest. Help rendered by these professionals can be in the form of motivation or medication. 


Some experts feel at least two months are needed to change a habit. 


It may be a long time. But it is today that you should start to make your tomorrow better by changing all the bad habits you have into good and success-creating new habits. 

VISUALIZE THE AFTERMATH OF CHANGING YOUR HABIT

Visualize in your mind how the situation would be once you get rid of the bad habit. 


  • If your bane is fast food, imagine how your health will improve once you stop eating it.
  • Think of the advantages you will enjoy once you start exercising.

Visualization helps in motivating you further to give up your bad habit.



NO-NO TO NEGATIVE THINKING

Keep yourself in a positive change of mind when you are trying to change a habit.


Example:  If you want to stop your snacking habit, try telling your brain you can do it.  Do not get discouraged if you are not able to change your habits immediately.  Give yourself time and some patience and the reward will be yours to see.



FAMILY/FRIENDS SUPPORT

Set up a roadblock to a bad habit with due help of friends/family. 



Your well-wishers can surely help you, whichever way you feel comfortable.  They can either stop you when you are induced to perform the habit routine or give gentle reminders to give it up totally.

Stay alert from relapse

Sometimes scenarios occur when you will be tempted to get back to your bad habit.  Beware of such occasions and be extra careful to not fall back on your bad ways.


Other things you can do to break the bad habit are:

  1. Take a vacation. Be away from your familiar localities for focusing on your new routines.  Go on a vacation to another city or locality and concentrate on new things 
  2. Yoga and meditation are some methods that can help you break bad habits
  3. Train your brain on other things that can replace your habit. While a habit is performed automatically, if you train your brain and focus on it then you can change your bad habits  
  4.  Change in routine
  • Take a new bus route
  • Start a new exercise regime
  • Go for walks 

WHILE IT IS FELT THAT THE CUE AND REWARD ARE IRREPLACEABLE, ONE CAN CHANGE THE ROUTINE.  Change in routine will replace your habit with a better one.


Here is an example…


SCENARIO

Cue – meeting friends

Routine – smoking

Reward – socializing

REPLACE IT WITH

Cue – meeting friends

Routine – enjoying soft drinks or a light healthy snack

Reward – socializing

AVOID TEMPTATIONS/TRIGGERS

Another method would be avoiding temptations or triggers of the habit at all times possible. 


Stop visiting the place that reminds you of the bad habit


A) If your habit is eating junk food then put all the junk in a place that is difficult to access

B) If cell phone notifications are your bane than shut out your phone until you really need it



Give yourself incentives/punishment to avoid that temptation


A) If you are an alcoholic, take some medicine that causes some unpleasant symptoms whenever you drink alcohol

B) If you succeed in seeing notifications on your phone for one hour treat yourself to a sweet treat 

Habits cannot be changed overnight.  This is because habits are imprinted in our neural paths and occur randomly even without our voluntary consent at times.  Great efforts and planning are required to undo a bad habit and develop a good habit in its place. 


This is the final step, here is how you can do it…


MAKE A REALISTIC GOAL

Choose which habit you want to change

    • Select a new and realistic goal you want to achieve to do away with your bad habit
    • Give it an appropriatetime
    • Begin in a small way and improve 

CHOOSE A REPLACEMENT HABIT

If the habit is not severe or addictive, then try breathing exercises when it is triggered 

  • Replace your bad habit with a better one.  For example – the time you use for social media can be used in reading an e-newspaper or a book
  • Take clues from the HABIT LOOP expounded by Charles Duhigg

There are three components in a Habit loop 

  • Cue – the trigger that starts the Habit loop
  • Routine – the action you take when the cue appears
  • Reward – the feel-good factor that is achieved after the routine mentioned above.

Identify

Identify the habit(s) and admit that you need to change. Stop justifying your habit or making excuses for continuing it. 


  • If you are a chain smoker, admit it first.  Then understand why you have to push it out of your system.
  • If you are not punctual, learn how to be so. 


WRITE DOWN SOMETHING ABOUT THE BAD HABIT

It is always good to write down a note about your bad habits.  This will not only help you plan on how to get rid of it, but it will serve as a reminder not to fall back on your old ways.


The following points should be mentioned in the bad habit note…


How often do you indulge in the habit? Let us take the smoking habit – write down how often you smoke in a day.


When it occurs – at certain places, times, etc. Write when and where you smoke.


Understand the pattern of your bad habit; Write down what induces you to smoke


The reason for the habit; Write down what comfort do you achieve in smoking? Is it break from boredom, or excuse to make new friends or an additive to gain inspiration??? 

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