Habits are a part of life; they make us who we are. Forty percent of our daily actions are habits; however, not all of them are good. Breaking bad habits requires a Mindful plan.
Habits can develop for many reasons. They are usually created through repetition. Habits can also be formed when good or enjoyable events trigger the brain’s “reward center” releasing a chemical in the brain known as dopamine. This chemical strengthens the habits and “hardwires our brains.” This makes us want to do it again.
How to Break a Habit
There are numerous habits out there and most of us have at least one bad one. Gossiping, nail-biting, overeating, overspending, procrastination, slouching and drug and alcohol abuse are some examples. Fortunately, with the right changes, we can improve our quality of life. Listed below are some Mindful Living®, habit-breaking tips.
- One at a time. Changing habits is not a simple task. It takes a lot of time and dedication. So, do yourself a favor, focus on only one habit at a time.
- Awareness. Becoming self-aware of your unhealthy habits is important. Stop cruising on autopilot. Figure out what triggers this behavior in you.
- Strategies. Come up with a counteracting plan for temptation. For a week or two, record why and when you feel the need to do indulge in your habit. Analyze the data and come up with pros and cons of this behavior to help keep temptation at bay.
- Replacement. Once you’ve figured out why you participate in these behaviors you can come up with alternatives. Consider visualizing or meditation when you’re stressed instead of smoking or biting your nails. If shopping (and ultimately overspending) gives you an adrenaline boost, consider exercising instead. Consider hobbies and spending time with family and friends.
- Reward. As mentioned in the first step, changing habits is a challenge. So reward yourself for little accomplishments that you make.
- Don’t give up. Breaking bad habits takes roughly 66 days. So, stay focused and take simple steps every day to achieve your goal.
Develop Good Habits
If you’re looking to create a good habit, some of the same steps are involved. This includes meditating on why this habit is so important to you, establish triggers (instead of suppressing them) by coming up with routines and following through. Keep up with your goal and reward yourself for your triumphs.