A habit is a routine of behavior that is practiced regularly. A habit is often formed subconsciously.
Good habits bring you closer to your goals and bad habits keep you away from your goals.
Here are 3 Tips to break bad habits:
Step No.1: Make It Conscious
The first step is to figure out when — and why — you bite your nails, crack your knuckles, or engage in any other bad habit. “If you can notice when you are doing it and under what circumstances and what feelings are attached to it, you might be able to figure out why you are doing it and be able to stop,” says Susan Jaffe, MD, a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City.
Step No. 2: Put It in Writing So It Really Sinks In
“Log it,” says Janet L. Wolfe, PhD, a clinical psychologist in New York City and author of several books including What to Do When He Has a Headache. This will help you establish a baseline, she says. “Put down the antecedents, the emotions surrounding the knuckle cracking and what goes through your head when you crack your knuckles,” she says. “This will make your bad habit more conscious.”
Wolfe suggests keeping the log for at least a week. The next step is to analyze the data and look at what your usual triggers are. “Do you do it when you are anxious or bored?”
James Claiborn, PhD, a psychologist in South Portland, Maine, and the co-author of The Habit Change Workbook, agrees. “Write out a list of the pros and cons of this behavior and keep a record of when you do it,” he tells WebMD. “Measurement of anything tends to change it and makes people much more aware in the first place.”
Step No. 3: Bait and Switch
Once you realize when and why you are biting your nails, cracking your knuckles, or engaging in any other bad habit, the next logical step is to find a not-quite-as-annoying temporary or permanent replacement for it. “If you are a nail biter, try gum,” Jaffee says.
“For throat clearing, the competing response may be some sort of slow exhaling because it is impossible to do that and clear your throat at same time,” Claiborn says. “Develop a way of breathing whenever you feel the urge to clear your throat. You can see some changes in a very short period of time. There will be a major reduction in throat clearing within days.”
If knuckle cracking is your way of coping with stress, Wolfe, says, “Try getting your hands in a position where you won’t be able to crack your knuckles. Or stroke the fabric of your sleeve, doodle, or do something else with your hands.”
Once you have identified the triggers, you can do meditation to distract yourself next time you are in a trigger situation.
A professional life coach or a counselor can help you with that process. Prayer and Meditation are also great tools to help you break bad habits.
If you want to replace a negative habit with a positive one, you must first change your mindset and take the opposite action.
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