Habits

We all have habits…some good and some not so good but what I have found is that it can be hard to break habits especially if we have got stuck in our ways.

Just like setting ourselves goals or aged old New Year’s Resolutions, it is important that they are achievable otherwise we are setting ourselves up for failure.

Our society tends to be one of impatience and wanting things to happen instantly but in reality, this is not how things work, particularly with creating new habits or breaking old ones.

If you are trying to create a new habit or break an old one you need to give yourself at least a month (think of it as a hurdle to jump over) before it will feel more natural and therefore easier to sustain.

It can be beneficial to start small e.g., if you want to drink less rather than saying ‘I’m never going to have a drink again’, cut down instead and take it from there.

Placing reminders around the house, car or on your phone or computer can be useful to keep you motivated and remind you of the habit you are trying to create or break. Motivational pictures or quotes are always good to have around as well. I have got motivational quote fridge magnets so every time I open the fridge, I read one. I also have an app called ‘I am’ which provides positive affirmations that will ping up on your phone throughout the day and they have different categories for you to choose from such as self-care, positive thinking, addiction etc.

If you are finding things a little challenging, it is a good idea to have a friend to help keep you motivated or to offer support be it to provide reminders or accompany you to the gym.

Something that can trip us all up is temptation, so where possible, remove temptation, be it junk food, cigarettes, alcohol, technology etc.

Having a trigger to perform each time you feel tempted to steer aware from creating your new habit will help you along the way. If you find yourself reaching for the biscuits, wine, cigarettes etc wear a hairband on your wrist to pull each time you are tempted, do 10 sit ups, drink a glass of water, run up and down the stairs, play your favourite song loudly, do some mindfulness…. basically, something that you can easily do that will distract yourself instantly.

It can be useful to challenge yourself and try to understand where the bad habit stems from. This could be done with a counsellor, friend or even with yourself. Ask yourself when it started, did something happen that triggered the bad habit, is there a pattern for when you reach for that drink or bar or chocolate, how do you feel before, during, after. Knowing the root cause of a bad habit can help to unpick it, helping you to stop and think of ways you can change your thought processes and actions and replace the bad habit with a good habit.

Another useful tool, particularly to help with giving something up, is to make sure that you are replacing it with something, so that the void will not feel as big. See if you can think of another way to relax or a new hobby or habit that you could create. Not only will this help fill the void, but it will also help give you focus and offer distraction…after all, giving something up can be very challenging.

It is also worth noting that if you are not successful in changing habits the first time, do not give up, instead try, try and try again (when you feel ready). It could take 1, 2, 3, 4 or more attempts but with the right support, perseverance, and mindset you will succeed.

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