Six Ways to Say Goodbye to a Bad Habit

Bad habits can range from the trivial, such as biting one’s nails, to the serious, such as the use of tobacco products, excessive drinking, or over-eating. The trouble with bad habits is that many times they are easy to start, but difficult to stop. There are many simple ways to help break a bad habit. Here are a few ideas to help you start on a new path.

1. Use a journal. Sometimes it helps to really think about why the bad habit is a part of your life. Are you trying to fill a void? Is it helping you cope with stress? Are you addicted to the bad habit? You need to answer these questions. Some people find that journaling, or keeping track of their thoughts in a book (or even online) can help them work through their bad habit. If you get a craving to engage in your bad habit, stop and think about why you want to do it. Then write down your feelings and explore them. A journal can also help you keep track of your many successes as well.

2. Get expert help. It’s important to realize that some bad habits are too big to break alone. You may need the help of a mental health care professional, such as a counselor, psychiatrist or employee resource professional in order to stop your bad habit. Other people may look to spiritual leaders like pastors or rabbis for advice and counsel. If you are dealing with an addiction or other health-related addiction, your primary care physician may be able to help you assess your problem, give you tips, and possibly even treatment to help you break your bad habit once and for all. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a professional during this important decision.

3. Replace the bad habit with a new, good habit. One reason many people find it difficult to quit a bad habit is that they don’t know what to do with their time once they stop engaging in the habit. Boredom strikes, and they feel tempted to fall back into their habitual behavior. Taking up new hobbies or activities can help you work through your boredom and cravings. Many people find that taking up a new exercise class or sport can be a useful and healthy way of avoiding their bad habit.

4. Find resources. In the age of the information superhighway, there is no shortage of information to help you fight through your bad habit. If you don’t have internet access at home, most public libraries and even some community centers have free computer access. Online you can access tips and advice on just about everything. Additionally, many 12-step groups (such as Alcoholics Anonymous) list their local meeting schedules and hotlines on the web.

5. Find support groups. Trying to break a bad habit alone can sometimes be a difficult task, especially if the habit you are trying to break is actually an addiction. You need not suffer alone. Many people find support groups or 12-step meetings are very beneficial to the improvement of their lifestyle and can help them fight through the urge to engage in their bad habit or addiction. There are 12-step groups for a variety of problems and addictions such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, and Over-Eaters Anonymous. Support groups meet in a variety of locations and at all times of the day.

6. Be proud of your progress. You should always be proud of your successes, no matter how large or small. Celebrate your progress, from week to week and month to month, and reward yourself for all of your hard work. If you meet a weight loss goal, treat yourself to a new outfit. If you have managed to stay smoke-free for a month, reward yourself with a new DVD. Just make sure your rewards aren’t triggers for your bad habit.

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