3 Ways to Break Bad Habits


Whether you want to quit smoking, stop biting your nails or stop scrolling on your phone mindlessly when you could be doing something else, bad habits can be hard to break. While not every type of bad habit responds to every kind of remedy, the points below may help you break some of them.

Preview the Good Results

Sometimes, habits are hard to break because it’s difficult to see how breaking them will have positive reverberations in the rest of your life. Sure, you’ll feel better and be more productive if you get more sleep, but it’s hard to convince yourself of that when it’s midnight and you want to watch just one more episode of your favorite show. One way to deal with this is to give yourself small tastes of what breaking your bad habit would be like. 

For example, maybe you want to rein in your spending, but you’re struggling thanks to the instant gratification of getting items you bought in the mail every few days. You could find a way to cut back on your monthly expenses painlessly such as reducing streaming subscriptions, cooking more at home, or with a student loan consolidation. There is a guide that will help you determine what the best consolidation options are for you and that gives you all the information that you need. Having this extra money each month to put away in savings and watching it grow can remind you how much more you could have if you don’t click “buy” on the next shopping cart.

Build in Rewards

While the above approach can help, sometimes the natural rewards of breaking a bad habit just aren’t enough. After all, if all it took was the sight of your manicured nails to keep you from biting them, you wouldn’t have a problem in the first place, would you? You may have to resort to bribing yourself to stop bad habits. You could do this in increments. For example, instead of quitting smoking or eating sugar cold turkey, try postponing it for ten minutes or an hour. The reward should ideally be something that you don’t struggle with, so only reward yourself with another episode of your favorite show if you aren’t also trying to quit binge-watching.

Find Your Triggers

It can help to dig into what causes you to do the thing you are trying to stop as well. For example, you may realize that you spend too much time scrolling through social media because you feel anxious. The idea here is to be more mindful and identify the emotion before you have an automatic reaction to it. If you feel anxious and need distraction, a better approach than scrolling online might be to phone a friend for a chat or replace it with another mindless but more useful activity, such as washing a sink full of dishes. Once you’ve identified the trigger, you could even go deeper than that. What is the source of the anxiety anyway? Maybe it’s anything that makes you worry about losing your job. You can then tackle the anxiety head on, by updating your resume and getting in touch with recruiters or having a chat with your supervisor, depending on which is more appropriate for your situation.