Break Bad Habits with 5 Tips You Can Use Right Now

Hand turning block letters from Bad to Good Habits.

We’ve all got them.  Habits we’ve developed that are not good for us, don’t help us achieve any long-term goals, and often make us feel guilty after the reward has passed.  Maybe you smoke cigarettes.  Perhaps you snack after dinner.  After work, one little drink to steady your nerves turns into two or three.  No judging here, but it’s time to stop it.  In this article, learn how to break bad habits with five tips you can use right now.  So if you want to drop those bad habits like a cheap suit, read on.

How Habits are Formed

Before we learn how to break bad habits, it’s important to understand how habits form in the first place.  According to Healthline, one of the main theories about how habits form centers on three words that start with the letter R. 

  • Reminder.  A reminder is a trigger or cue that starts the habit behavior.
  • Routine.  This is the actual behavior.
  • Reward.  This is the benefit of the behavior that makes the habit stick.

Let’s say you’ve developed a habit of eating a slice of pound cake with your cup of coffee every morning at your favorite coffee shop.  Here is an example of how the three R’s work using your pound cake habit.  In this example, the reminder to order the pound cake comes when you walk into the coffee shop.  Walking in, seeing the coffee and the pound cake in the display case is the trigger that reminds you a slice of pound cake goes with a cup of coffee.  The routine is sitting down with a cup of coffee and eating the cake.  The reward is the taste of the cake and the comforting feeling you get while consuming it.  The feeling is good, so the reward is repeated.  The habit sticks, and once it does, it’s hard to break.

5 Tips to Break a Bad Habit

Breaking a bad habit is difficult, but not impossible.  Here are five tips to help.

1. Own your Bad Habit

The first step to quitting anything is to own your habit.  You have to be honest with yourself and admit to an unhealthy or dangerous habit.  Until you admit to having a bad habit, you will never take steps to break it.  Writing the habit down on a piece of paper is your first step to ownership.  Include your goal of kicking the habit and why.  Keep the paper near your trigger zones to remind you of your goal.

2. Avoid Your Triggers

According to Time Magazine, the best way to break a bad habit is to avoid the reminders that trigger it.  In our pound cake example, avoiding the trigger could mean going to a different coffee shop.  A different environment will prevent the reminder of the pound cake.  The new coffee shop may also offer pound cake, but it’s different pound cake and should be easier to pass up.  Skipping it on the first visit will break the cycle and the start of a new, healthier habit.

3. Cut stress

Everyone’s determination and willpower fade as the day goes on.  Stress is the main reason.  Stressed out people look for ways to escape their stress and often look to rewards from bad habits.  Whether it’s a double old-fashioned after a long day’s work, a sweet treat before bedtime, or the last cigarette of the day, the rewards often relieve the anxiety but simultaneously reinforce the bad habit.  By reducing stress, especially at night, you will not need to rely on the rewards of bad habits.

4. Get an Accountability Partner

A close friend, a spouse, or a roommate can help to keep you in check.  Tell them about your goal, trigger, and reward you get from a bad habit.  Then ask them to help you break the habit through accountability.  Call them when a trigger is tempting you.  Your accountability partner can remind you about your goal to break the habit and should follow up to ensure you don’t slide.  Sometimes knowing you’ll have to admit to slipping is enough incentive to stay on the straight and narrow.

5. Flip the Script

Sometimes, the stories you tell yourself are the most powerful of all.  If you tell yourself a story about how much you like the reward from a bad habit, flip the script.  Change the story and now center on your goal instead of the reward of the bad habit.  Tell yourself how breaking the habit will have a new set of rewards better than those associated with the bad habit.  For the pound cake example, the story should change from the rewards of taste and comfort relaxation to the rewards of better health, and a leaner body.

Choose a Healthy Habit Instead

Woman packing a gym bag.
Packing a bag hours before going to the gym
makes a healthy habit easier to keep up.

It’s sometimes easier to substitute good habits when you know your bad habits and the triggers that start the cycle.  For example, if you end your workday with a bottle of beer and Sports Center, substitute that bad habit for a good habit, like going to the gym. 

According to Fast Company, to make good habits stick, make them obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying.  Most of your actions are influenced by your surroundings.  You can manipulate those surroundings to make your desired habits obvious, attractive, and easy to do.  As a result, they will vastly increase the chances you’ll stick with them.  In other words, make your new “good habit” easier to achieve.  For example, if you want to start going to the gym more frequently, prepare your gym bag, pre-workout, and attire ahead of time.  Next, put these items in an area where you will not overlook them.  No excuses can be made when everything is ready for you.

A Good Habit to Keep

Most people develop bad habits.  Some can be damaging to overall health and wellness.  But bad had don’t have to define your behavior or lead down a road to ruin.  Break bad habits with the 5 tips in this article you can use right now.  They can help you be mindful of your triggers and ideas to help break habits and replace them with good habits.  One good habit is using health and wellness products from Naturally. . . You.  We offer services like detoxification programs and body wraps.  We also offer the highest quality CBD products to help ease pain and promote better sleep.  And now we offer premium collagen supplements designed to help build stronger joints and improve the appearance of your skin.  Visit our website to learn more about ways to improve your life, naturally.

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