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How to Break a Habit

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When you woke up today, what was the first thing you did? Did you jump in the shower, grab
some breakfast or check your phone? Did you brush your teeth afterwards? Did you tie your
left shoelace before your right? How did you get to school? What did you have for lunch?
When you got home from school did go for a run or just take it easy?

The choices we make on a daily basis may seem carefully considered, but often they are
not. Instead, they are habits. Each one may not seem like much on its own and we may not
even be aware of them. However, over time our habits could have a positive or negative
effect on our wellbeing.

Over the past twenty years, a better understanding of how we form habits and how they
change has been developed. Neurologists, psychologists and sociologists have realised that
habits are patterns of behaviour and the way to break these habits is to change these
patterns. According to research, habits can be triggered by emotion. For example, wanting to
overeat, smoke or drink could be caused by stress. The environment or situation faced by
the individual can also be a contributing factor. To change this autopilot reaction, the
following steps are recommended:

1. Determine the behaviour that you would like to change.

Just one change, successfully executed, has the power to form an entirely new routine.

2. Recognise the triggers.

Whilst facing cravings, pause to recognise what emotions you are going through at that time.

3. Deal with the triggers.

Remove items that could cause the habit to continue. Eg. If you eat too much junk food, stop
buying it.

4. Create a plan to substitute for the old routine.

Eg. If you check your phone too often, decide to turn it off for a couple of hours and for
instance, read a book instead.

5. Alter the larger pattern.

Remove all of the obstacles that could prevent you from achieving your goal. Eg.
Reschedule your desired activity to a more convenient or better suited time.

6. Use reminders.

Eg. Set a reminder on your phone to make sure you do not forget about your new routine.

7. Support and reward yourself.

Eg. If you decided not to waste money on things you do not need, your savings could pay for
something that you have wanted for a long time.

8. Be patient.

Take it one day at a time. Do not give up. Do not go too hard on yourself if you slip up.

 

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References

Taibbi L.C.S.W., R. (2017, December 15). How to Break Bad Habits. Retrieved
     January 10, 2018, from Psychology Today website:
     https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fixing-families/201712/how-break-bad-habits

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