Bad habits can affect people’s lives significantly. They can impact health status (mental and physical), relationships and financial stability. Breaking a habit is not typically easy but it can be done! Once you are underway, it gradually becomes much easier and can benefit all aspects of your life.
About how to kick a habit
How can a habit be eradicated?
Replace your habit
Replace the bad habit with something more positive. Many habits are formed from boredom, emotions and stress. Common causes can include: relationship problems, stress of work, family concerns or simply being bored.
Spending hours on the internet, playing video games, eating excessive amounts of unhealthy foods and drinking alcohol to excess can all be in response to stress or boredom. They can act as a means of comfort and taking one’s mind off the issue at hand. For this reason, it can be difficult to simply remove a habit that is serving a purpose and not replace it with something else that will satisfy that need. Try to devise some activities that can replace your craving for a habit, for example:
- Going for a walk
- Call a friend if you are feeling an urge to slip in to your old habit
Whatever you enjoy will be much more effective than sitting and thinking about the habit. A hobby that incorporates physical activity and/or socialising is always a great idea as it can contribute towards good mental and physical health – helping further to ward off cravings.
Plan of attack
It helps if you have a plan of attack. This means forward thinking about how you will tackle your boredom or stress when it arises. Have activities and strategies ready to go.
Think about what triggers your habit and how it can be avoided. For example – food. Many individuals struggle to control their intake of certain foods or just food in general. How could you combat this? One way is to ensure any tempting items in the house are removed and not re-purchased. This is important if you struggle to control consumption and if you are particularly used to buying a family block of chocolate or a larger packet of chips simply because they are cheaper.
If it is alcohol, again, don’t keep it in the house and try not to base social occasions around drinking. Moreover, what about technology? Put away the video game console, hide the TV remote and put your mobile somewhere that will stop you from checking it every 2 minutes.
It can also help to spend time around people who will inspire you. The good habits of people who eat healthy and exercise can rub off on others and be a great motivator.
Thinking up ideas like these and changing your environment accordingly can really help! If there’s no chocolate or chips in the house, then you can’t eat them.
Enlist a friend
Most people have a habit they would like to change. Working together with a friend can be really helpful and great for support. Having someone to report to can be very motivating and can help to avoid throwing in the towel – you won’t only have your own expectations to live up to.
Remind yourself why you are doing it
Keep reinforcing the reasons behind your change. This will really help to keep you motivated – particularly in the beginning! Visualise your success instead of thinking about how far you have to go, every small step helps. It is also important to keep in mind that it will get easier – just think past the initial desire and cravings.
Before the habit started, there was no habit, so it is a matter of returning to that habit-less you. For example, you may not have always been a smoker, you may not have always eaten or drank excessively, you perhaps never relied on technology for entertainment. If you have lived without it once, you can do it again!
Don’t be defeated
Slip ups are very common. They will happen, we are only human. The most important thing here is not that you had a moment of weakness but that you can move past it and continue on your journey. Again, remind yourself of how beneficial it will be to pick yourself up and continue opposed to falling back into your old habit. For example, an afternoon of over-indulging on food will not likely destroy all of your hard work BUT returning to your old ways of eating like that definitely will. If you eat poorly over the weekend or miss the gym for a few days, it is only a hiccup in the grand scheme of things.
Perseverance is often key. It is not easy to combat an engrained habit, most importantly,stick with it and keep trying!
Contact us for results focused nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian Belinda Elwin who is a Dietitians Association of Australia member and Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist.
If you have any questions about how to kick a habit or nutrition related issues, you can make an appointment with Belinda today. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine, targeted to your concerns.