Do you feel like you’re stuck in bad habits that you’re powerless to change? There are so many people in the same boat. But there’s something you should know: you can totally change your habits, no matter how long you’ve had them. It might not be easy. But if you feel like your habits aren't conducive to your growth or that they are negatively affecting your life, you should start now. Let’s take a look at some effective ways you can change your habits:
1. Understand How Your Environment Plays A Part
Most people don't realize that their immediate environment plays a part in their habits and how well they stick to new habits they want to build. Your environment is everything. This is why, for example, people can eat healthy, balanced meals at home... but raid the cupboards and overeat when they visit their parents. Behaviours are often associated with specific environments. It’s why you might not care about drinking alcohol any other time. But as soon as you’re in a certain place with certain people, you feel like you need a drink. Changing your environment could be an extremely powerful way to change habits and build new ones. You may also want to avoid triggering environments as much as possible to cut down your risk of indulging in a habit you want to break.
2. Figure Out What Your Triggers Are
Knowing what your triggers are will help you to figure out when you’re likely to do something you don’t want to do. Some people feel triggered by a bad day at work, an argument with a partner, or even just when they are bored. When you can identify your triggers, you put yourself in a much more powerful position to overcome them and find ways to replace those habits. You simply need to be more mindful. Talk yourself through what you’re feeling in your head. For example, ‘I’m feeling stressed right now, and this is making me want to have a drink. I could do X instead.’ Then, do something else. Get out of your head by going for a quick walk, taking a bath, or even going off to a toilet cubicle somewhere and taking some deep breaths. You can break these old patterns!
Remember, you may not be able to go ‘cold turkey’ right away for certain habits. Reaching for vegetable glycerin rather than a cigarette may not be as good as using nothing at all, but it’s still a step forward.
3. Come Up With A Strong ‘Why’
If you don’t have a strong why for wanting to break your old habits, then you probably won’t stick to your coping strategies. Do you want to live a healthier, longer life? Do you want to set good examples for your children? When you have a why that deeply resonates with you, keep it in mind. Write it out and remind yourself of it regularly.
4. Replace An Undesirable Habit With A Good One
Replacing undesirable habits with good ones can help you to break those unhealthy patterns while building new, healthy patterns. If you feel like doing something you know won’t be good for you, you could drink a tall glass of water, eat some crunchy vegetable sticks, pop in a piece of gum, or have a cold shower. There are all kinds of methods you can use that could help you!
5. Work With A Therapist
Sometimes, working with a therapist can help you to get to the root of things and figure out why you do the things you do and how you can change. Even if you haven’t been through any major trauma that you can think of, it’s important to understand that even seemingly small events can impact us in huge ways. You could have some trauma lying there waiting to be uncovered, and this could be the key to ending those bad habits once and for all.
6. Get A Support Network In Place
A support network filled with people who care about you can help you to stay on track. This could be friends and family, or even a group of people going through the same thing as you.
7. Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Everyone makes mistakes. Beating yourself up when you slip up will only cause a negative shame spiral, and could even make you give up altogether. Be kinder to yourself.
8. Give Yourself Plenty of Time
It could take up to three months for your new habits to become second nature. It takes time, so be patient!