No one among us is perfect. We all have those bad habits we wish we could rid from our lives once and for all. For anyone who has tried, they know this is far easier said than done. We let these habits become ingrained in our lives so much that removing them feels unnatural and we are triggered to return to them no matter how bad they might be for us. But there are many bad habits that are quite negative for our health. Smoking is an obvious one, and made more difficult to kick because of its addictive properties. But it could also be poor diet or lifestyle habits that affect our overall health. Therefore, though it is difficult, we need to learn to kick these habits for good.
While there is no tried-and-true method for kicking a bad habit, there are certain approaches and techniques that are more effective than others. Here are a few tips to help with this difficult but important task which can leave you living a healthier life.
Understand it’s not going to be pleasant.
The biggest hurdle to overcome when kicking a bad habit is the mental aspect. This cannot be underestimated and it’s important you work to address it from the beginning. Everything in you is going to be telling you that you want to keep this habit. If you could walk away from it easily it wouldn’t be a habit. You need to separate yourself from it and that’s going to take a fight. You’re not going to enjoy the process and it’s important to prepare yourself for that fact as it will help keep you moving forward even as it gets harder.
Don’t expect a quick fix.
The old saying that “If it seems too good to be true then it probably is” certainly applies to this situation. There will be no shortcuts to kicking your bad habit – not if you want it gone for good. Some people go for the “cold turkey” method of quitting all up front and trying to beat back those cravings. It’s true that this works for some, but for many it’s a sort term victory and leads you right back to your old ways. If you want it done right the first time you have to be willing to put in the time and effort.
Set out your goals.
As with any undertaking like this, setting goals for yourself can help with the process. Just saying you want to quit drinking soda is a good end goal, but how are you expecting to get there? These things are more effective when done in steps. If you have a deadline you’re giving yourself, be realistic about it. This isn’t something that can be rushed and still be a success. You can take it slow, making weekly goals for yourself then build on those goals more and more. This is a great way to chart your progress and keep you from letting yourself slip.
Identify your triggers.
Whatever your habit might be, it’s likely that you have a few triggers associated with it that need to be addressed. Triggers are those elements that have been so associated with your habit for so long that they cause you to crave or revert to that habit. For a lot of smokers, alcohol is a trigger. You might associate junk food with certain activities. However, it’s also possible that you’re unaware of your own triggers. You’ll need to identify them yourself. Think of when your cravings are the most intense and what may have brought on those feelings. Once you know what the triggers are you can figure out how best to address them.
Replace it with good habits.
Sometimes habits are so hard to kick because they feel so routine. Certain times of day or certain activities just make you feel like you should be indulging in your bad habit. Instead of trying to break that routine, use it to your advantage by replacing it with a healthy habit. Every time you crave a soda, have a glass of water. Every time you want a smoke, go for a walk. No, this isn’t going to be as satisfying at first, but in time, these habits will become part of your routine and will push your bad habits out.
Be rigid but don’t be too hard on yourself.
Discipline is very important when trying to kick a bad habit. If you are not pushing yourself enough then what’s to stop you from reverting back to the habit whenever you feel like it? You need to hold yourself accountable in seeing this through. Having said that, you will have setbacks. Everyone slips now and then. This shouldn’t be ignored but if you are too hard on yourself these setbacks can hurt your motivation just as much as going too soft can. Learn from your struggles and move forward smarter about what is needed to succeed.
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