Successfully Break Bad Habits Once & For All
Are you guilty of negative self-talk? Do you procrastinate, spend too much time on social media, or eat unhealthy foods too often? Okay, first of all, don’t beat yourself up about it. Nobody’s perfect! But if you’re trying to break some of these bad habits...well, WE GOT YOU.
The New Year presents us with the possibility to start fresh, and getting rid of bad habits is truly a great way to approach 2021. The truth is that even though it may feel cliche, the changing of the calendar year feels like a mental reset. You’re probably never more motivated to change yourself for the better than on January 1! So let’s get started, babe!
First...Let’s Go Over How Habits Form
We're dropping some knowledge on you RN. Strap in!
There’s more than one theory about why habits form, but the three Rs (Reminder, Routine, Reward) is one of the main ones. A “reminder” is like a trigger, or cue. It can be a feeling, such as nervousness or anxiety, that “triggers” the behavior, like biting your nails or procrastinating. This trigger followed by the behavior can often be repeated and that makes it into a routine. The “reward” part is when the behavior results in some sort of pleasurable feeling (like the calming of stress or anxiety). Once this reward is released, it can make the original behavior much more likely to be repeated. And so, a habit is born!
Fun Fact: Did you know it takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form a new habit? Some people think it’s only 21 days, but that comes from a book written in 1960 that became SUPER popular, and now people accept it as fact. The more you know, babe!
How You Can Start Breaking Bad Habits
IDENTIFY THE TRIGGER
The first step is always to FIGURE OUT YOUR TRIGGER. Notice how, when, where, or why the “reminder” begins. Identifying this trigger will help you be much more conscious of what is triggering the habit. Maybe you are binging on drinks or food because of a certain emotional trigger, or maybe you are procrastinating because of a fear of failure. Once you have a grip on what your triggers are, you will begin the first important step of breaking your particular bad habit.
Fun Fact: Our brains like forming habits because habits are “efficient.” They basically don’t require much thought! It’s like when you automatically pick up your phone and start scrolling through Instagram and Twitter and TikTok. You do it so often that you don’t even realize you’re doing it anymore!
WRITE DOWN YOUR REASONS
You might think you already know why you want to break the bad habit, but writing down your reasons on a piece of paper will help you come up with reasons you hadn’t even thought of. This can make breaking the habit easier when you have even more motivation to do it!
NovaTip: Try replacing a bad habit with a good one. Like, if you’re always snacking on gummy bears or Doritos, try baby carrots or unsalted popcorn instead. Okay, so baby carrots are not on gummy bear level of delicious, we know, but they will satisfy the urge to snack!
If you let people around you know you are trying to break a bad habit, they will most likely support and encourage you. That will also hold you accountable!
NovaTip: You know how some friends start diets together to keep each other motivated? Why not start a “breaking bad habits” group chat with your friend(s) to keep that same sort of motivation going? You got this!
All mindfulness means in this case is to make a point of noticing and taking stock of the behaviors that lead up to and follow your habit without judgement. The more you practice mindfulness, the more likely you are to try to curb your urges in the future.
Reminder: Don’t judge your habits or react to them. We know it’s easier said than done, but it’ll work better if you just go with the flow, babe!
DON'T TRY TO BE PERFECT
Yes, you WILL slip-up on occasion — perhaps even quite often in the beginning. But that doesn't mean you're failing or that you'll never conquer this bad habit. If you accept that you will sometimes fall back into your bad habits, you're actually MORE likely to succeed in the long-run because you won't be putting so much stress on yourself.
Fun fact: Your brain releases dopamine when a habit gives you a pleasant or relaxing feeling. That’s why it can be so hard to break the cycle of bad habits!
TAKE BABY STEPS
Maybe you have more than one bad habit? Who doesn't?! We all have areas of improvement, but don't try to break all of your bad habits at once. This is a surefire way to basically end up back on your BS (sorry!). Instead, start small and take baby steps.
Reminder: Every little step you take will get you that much closer to your goal. Don't rush it.
RESET YOUR ENVIRONMENT
This is a powerful step you can take in changing any bad habit. Do you worry that you're in the habit of spending too much on food delivery apps? Open up a recipe book and encourage yourself to try one recipe a week instead of ordering takeout. Remove the apps from your phone entirely so you won't be tempted to order again. Pack a lunch to work so you won't be tempted to order while at the office.
Reminder: The people around you are also part of your environment. If you have coworkers or friends who are always ordering takeout, this will only encourage YOU to maintain the habit.
VISUALIZE YOUR SUCCESS
Visualization is a powerful technique in any situation. Visualizing yourself breaking your hated bad habit can be extremely gratifying. Instead of negative self-talk, visualize yourself receiving compliments. Instead of procrastinating, visualize yourself starting and finishing a project early. Instead of ordering takeout, visualize yourself cooking yourself a meal with fresh ingredients from the grocery store. If you do this enough, you will begin to move away from the mental prison of your bad habit.
Fun fact: Research has shown that visualization of a particular habit actually activates parts of the brain that are also activated when you’re ACTUALLY doing that same habit. Isn’t that wild? This proves that visualization can help you develop better habits!