People often adopt wrong strategies to break bad habits and this can cause frustrations since it doesn’t work out. So in order to break habits we need to understand how habits work, first.
What forms a habit?
Any habit consists of three phases or stages.
Cues are the triggers which tempt us to carry out one or multiple actions.
Routine includes actions and behavior that we carry out once in a habit mode.
Reward is the satisfaction we get after completing the routine.
7 ways to break bad habits
Basic idea of breaking bad habits is interfering in the habit process and eliminating one of the three processes.
Strategy 1 – Break the triggers
Knowing what triggers you to indulge in a bad habit is very crucial. Take a note of what are all the cues which is tempting you to carry out bad habit. But basically there are five cues which trigger us:
Some habits like drinking tea and coffee are based on time. Usually we crave for the tea or coffee when we think it’s “time” to drink. Normally, it is the time which triggers us to consume tea or coffee than the stress.
Location based habits gets trigger when we are at some particular place. Or it may happen at the similar looking place too. For example, when you go to a shop for purchasing anything you might end up with having cigarette in your mouth.
Emotions often trigger behaviors and actions. Certain negative emotions like anger, anxiety, sadness, frustration can push someone towards bad habits or addictions. Controlling our emotions can have a very positive impact on us.
We often depend on others to make decision for us. Sometimes it can be very easy to manipulate people around you since they lack the right knowledge. So we often fall for the prey that “society is always right”. Avoiding people who force you into bad habits like smoking and alcohol is much needed to break the habit.
Our preceding actions
Our mind can certain actions and behaviors based on our previous actions, if there is any pattern to it. For example, eating cookies or lighting a cigarette while drinking tea or coffee. So keeping an eye on routines is needed to control our habits indirectly.
Strategy 2 – Replace the routine
Sometimes breaking the triggers can be hard because we carry out these habits subconsciously. And we realize a little bit later that we are already doing what we were trying to stop.
For example, if you have the habit of picking up your smartphone and scrolling down Facebook page regarding funny videos, you can just switch to chatting when you open Facebook. So here you are keeping the cues but changing the actions.
Strategy 3 – Examine the rewards
There are always alternate ways to arrive at a desired result. Take a note of why are you doing a certain task and list all the rewards you will be getting after completion.
For example, if you are addicted to gaming then find out what you are getting from it. If it is killing boredom then there are a lot alternatives to kill boredom. You can try talking to your friends, watching movies, novels or self-help books (yup they are entertaining if you choose the right books).
Strategy 4 – New habit
Getting rid of bad habits can be tricky but even if we did then there lies another problem – ‘what to do with the free time now?’. Developing new habits not only fills that void but also boosts our confidence and sometimes it can even help in developing other habits. And these kinds of habits which, in turn, create other habits are called ‘keystone habits.’
Strategy 5 – Tracking habits
Taking a note of your actions and behaviors develops discipline which aids in maintaining consistency in our habits. If you are developing new habits you can use some good habit tracking apps for your smartphone. You can even make your own habit tracker in your journal if you are not comfortable with apps. Or you can just mark on your calendar if you want to be simple.
Strategy 6 – Peer pressure
If you are breaking a bad habit or developing a new habit you can find people with similar interests. Attaching yourself to the similar people can motivate or force you to carry out your tasks when you lack energy. We always fall for the pressure of society and utilizing it in the good way can be a great yield.
Strategy 7 – Knowledge
Knowledge is the ultimate savior. No one can steal your knowledge. It gives confidence to stand out in the public. It is because of the knowledge and experience that we believe our decision making. Developing the right kind of mindset will surely help us in making the decisions accurately with the little or no help from outsiders.