Home & FamilyHealth & Fitness6 Ways to Kick Bad Habits

6 Ways to Kick Bad Habits

If there’s anything to be learned by all those failed New Year’s resolutions, it’s that kicking bad habits isn’t easy. Whether you’re looking to give up diet soda, address your technology addiction, drink in moderation, or adopt a daily yoga practice, it takes more than willpower. Fortunately, there are a lot of tools at your disposal.

First, remember that you’re not going to succeed if you’re not fully ready. Kicking bad habits works best when you adopt a slow and steady approach. If you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, it’s not likely that you can go cold turkey. Instead, weaning yourself and relying on tools including seeing a therapist and perhaps a nicotine patch or gum is a better approach.
Think you’re ready? Now matter what bad habit you’re about to tackle, here are six ways to make your conviction stick:

1.  Get Over the Stigma and Seek Professional Help

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This is particularly important if you’re facing an addiction such as technology addiction. Many insurance policies cover mental health therapy, and if not there are non-profits and payment plans to help. Professional help can also include support groups such as the popular anonymous meetups that happen in every town. Getting professional support and building a network of those who have been in your shoes not only helps you avoid common missteps, but also gives you a sense of commitment.

2.  Write Down Your Goals

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Studies have shown that physically writing down your goals (not typing them) helps with goal-setting. It slows you down and forces you to focus on what’s at stake. It also helps cement your goals. Some people prefer to write these goals down daily, as well as journal them to help keep track of their progress and journey.

3.  Rally Your Friends and Family for Support

Unfortunately, not everyone will be on board with your goal. This can be particularly true with addiction. If your best friend is also a tech addict, or perhaps an alcoholic, they might not readily support your decision to quit because they feel judged themselves—and suddenly without their partner in crime. In some situations, you might need to pause friendships, and you’ll need to look for other circles who are on your side.

4.  Be Reasonable

“Laddering” is an approach that requires small, baby steps. Set reasonable goals for yourself along with both short-term and long-term goals. Write them down. Going too fast and too hard is a recipe for failure.

5.  Try a Holistic Approach

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There are many ways to help kick bad habits that might include healthy distractions, healthy rewards for reaching milestones, interviewing a wide range of therapists to find the right fit, and recruiting new cheerleaders into your circle. Try every reasonable option (you can always give them the boot if they don’t work for you).

6.  Seek Balance and Moderation, Not Total Avoidance

In many cases, such as technology or shopping addiction, you can’t avoid the trigger entirely (like with drugs or alcohol). This means you’ll need to find avenues to practice balance and moderation. Swapping out these bad habits for healthy ones (such as a walk around the neighborhood whenever you have an itch to binge on destructive behavior) is a great coping mechanism.

Understand that kicking bad habits is often a lifetime strategy, not a one and done fix. There will be slips, and you might find some times of the year tougher than others. However, arming yourself with the right tools and support will help get you on a positive path.

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