How to Kick a Bad Habit | Eastern North Carolina Now

    Everyone has habits, whether they’re good or bad; they’re easy to acquire but quitting them is a whole different ball game. When trying to kick a bad habit, there are several helpful steps you could take to get that monkey off your back. First off, quitting any habit is difficult for many reasons; some are even beyond our control. Then, once you’ve admitted having a problem, you should find some form of substitution. Next you must stay determined to quitting your bad habit, stay motivated, and have the will power to break through the finish line.

    Most people have at least one bad habit; whether it’s smoking, drinking, drugs, gambling, over eating, nail biting, or some other habit that they can’t seem to control. Habits can form at any age, any time, for any reason. Quitting habits tend to be quite difficult; stress, routine and neurological barriers often hinder the process. In order to quit your bad habit you must realize that it will be difficult, and you must overcome these hindrances. Stress often keeps you from quitting because you feel that your habit helps you to relax and to cope with what’s going on. One of the main reasons it’s so difficult to quit any habit is because they’re set in brain’s neurological pathways. The neural activity developed by habits may be changed but it leaves a lasting impression, a “memory”. This memory may trigger the habit’s return if it sees those same cues return. Since you’ve developed the habit it tends to become a routine part of your life. This makes it so you may not even be aware that you have a problem.

    The most crucial step in quitting any habit is actually admitting that you have a problem. Once you’ve come to terms with your addiction and want to change don’t make excuses for your habit and take time to think of how it’s affected you life. Has your habit caused you to lose work opportunities, friends or loved ones? Some people can go their whole life in a fog and not realize they have a problem at all. At times being able to see the fact that you have a problem can be difficult; it may take someone telling you that you have an addiction in order for you to realize it. Making the decision to quit your habit is a vital step because it kicks off the whole process. Most importantly the decision is yours, and you’re quitting because you want to rather than having to; which will make the process a little easier. The process will be easier because you weren’t forced into quitting, which makes it more meaningful for you. When you decide to quit, there can be no excuses for going back to your old ways. By making excuses you’re standing in your own way of success. A list of reasons your habit is bad for you will help you to further realize why you want/ should quit. When a habit has negatively affected your life and you see how it has or will continue, then you’re on the right track to successfully quitting.

    When quitting a habit you’re actually exchanging it for a better one. When finding a substitution to the bad habit, think of the cause (the when and why) of your habit. Then find something you can do instead, and/or pick up a hobby to keep your mind distracted. Usually habits form when you’re doing a certain activity. You may find that you smoke more when you drink, or eat more after having a stressful day at work. Recognizing when your habit is more prevalent will help you to either avoid those situations, or be more aware and control your habit. It’s good to keep yourself occupied when trying to quit, it keeps your mind off of the habit. Finding a hobby is a good quitting-aid because it keeps you busy. In a sense you may end up replacing a bad habit with a good one. Some people pick up crocheting when they quit smoking since it keeps their hands busy. When trying to quit smoking, knowing what to do with your hands can be one of the biggest assets in your success to quitting. Any hobby or activity that keeps you busy and your mind occupied will help you to lose your craving and not think about the temptations of starting the habit again.

    You’ll be tempted to start your habit up again several times before you see the finish line. The key to quitting is staying determined; be consistent in your efforts and focus on changing one habit at a time. Also, make sure you don’t have too many other things going on in your life that may cause stress or make quitting more difficult than it already is. Having a consistent system when trying to quit is important; consistency helps you to stay on track. If when trying to quit you try numerous methods in the same stretch, your mind will get confused and ultimately you won’t have successful results. In addition to trying too many different ways of quitting, if you try to quit when you have a lot going on at the time, you’ll fall back into your old habit. Be sure to quit when you have the least amount of stress going on; this will ensure a higher chance of success because stress won’t be such a major factor. Also, don’t try to quit too many things at once, this will just add to your stress levels and will overwhelm you. However, if you feel that you are starting to slip into your bad habit, stay determined and motivated to make it through to the end. If you’re not determined to change, then you’ll surely fail. It’s normal to have doubt, but the important thing is to keep going and don’t lose sight of the reason you started to quit.

    Being properly motivated is another powerful tool in the quitting process. Reward yourself when you or someone else recognizes a change for the better. Setting small goals that lead up to the big picture will also help you in your quest because each step will seem attainable. Keeping the thought of how quitting will benefit you and your life is a great motivator and will help to keep you on track. Set small goals within the major goal of quitting. Pace yourself, start by slowly cutting down then keep reducing the amount you do your habit until it’s finally gone. The alternative of “quitting cold turkey” isn’t for everyone, most people can’t quit in a day. Also, if you or someone else notices that you’re getting better and see positive results then reward yourself. By rewarding yourself you improve your motivation and increase your will to quit. You may reward yourself by going to the movies, or buying yourself an extra little gift. As in the beginning, when you make a list of reasons the habit is bad for you, make a list of how quitting is good for you and how you benefit. This list will help you stay focused and motivate you to continue.

    On top of everything though, do not back out. Don’t lose sight of your reason for quitting; you’ve decided to change, so there must have been a good and powerful reason for you to quit in the first place. Throughout your journey, you must have the will to quit; it’s you that is changing, no one can do it for you. Having a strong support group will help you to keep trying and not lose faith in your journey. The people around you can help give you the support and encouragement you need in order to reach your goal. It’s more difficult to quit on your own because you may not know if you’re making any progress or you may feel depressed and need someone to boost your spirits. Getting feedback from others is a great weapon against your habit monster. By getting positive feedback you realize how well you’re doing, and how quitting is having a positive effect on your life.

    When quitting a bad habit, however, you have to break through several barriers in order to reach your goal. You have to overcome stress, neurological interference, routine, doubt, and above all yourself when trying to quit. You won’t have any barriers to overcome though unless you first admit and want to change/ quit your habit. Then once you’ve decided to change, then you’re on the way to success. First you find something to keep you occupied, and then as you continue you have to be determined, have motivation, and have the will to quit completely. You’ll have some difficulties throughout the process, but each step depends on you whether you continue to the next. Each one has the opportunity for you to either continue the habit or the quitting procedure. You’ll have to face each step as it comes and endure the troubles through to the end in order to reach your goal.

Remember that something has made you realize that you need change in your life; and things will start to improve. Continuing down the wrong road can only end badly.

Works Consulted: How to Kick a Bad Habit

"5 Steps to Changing Bad Habits." Desire for Wealth - Larrys Desire for Wealth. 08 Mar. 2008. Web. 08 Mar.

Adragna, Marco. "How to Quit a Bad Habit by Answering Four Power Questions." Web Log post. Stepcase
    Lifehack : Productivity, Getting Things Done and Lifehacks Blog.
20 Nov. 2007. Web. 10 Mar. 2010.

"How to Fix Bad Habits |" EHow | How To Do Just About Everything! | How To Videos & Articles.
    EHow, Inc. Web. 10 Mar. 2010.

Grohol, John M. "MIT Explains Why Bad Habits Are Hard to Break." Web Log post. Psych Central. Psych
    Central, Oct. 2005. Web. Mar. 2010.
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