How to break a bad habit

How to break a bad habit

Our lives are ruled by our habits – the good ones and the bad ones. And it can be even harder to quit a bad habit than to start a good one.

The backdrop: Last week we selected for you the best hacks on how to form good habits. Today, we’re bringing you tips — from expert interviews and research studies — on how to get rid of the bad ones.

  • “Don’t believe the shit that’s been put out into the world about how to break bad habits,” says BJ Fogg, a Stanford psychologist who studies habit formation. “If it were that simple, we wouldn’t have so many problems in the world.”
  • “Breaking bad habits is a much more complicated process than creating new ones.”

Here are our top tips for getting started:

  1. Make it difficult. It’s easier to curb a bad habit if you make it hard to do, Fogg says. If you’re tired of using your phone before bed, put it in another room.
  2. Design the bad habit of your life. It’s hard to kick a habit if you keep your environment exactly the same. If your goal is to lose weight, stock your fridge and pantry with the foods you’ll feel good about snacking on instead of buying — and then trying to resist — junk food.
  3. Be patient with yourself. As we all know, these changes take time. But we are quick to blame ourselves or give up after a mistake or two. Give yourself grace and don’t expect perfection.
  4. Call in the experts. There are minor bad habits you can tackle, like nail biting or late-night snacking, and others that are much more serious, like drug addiction, Fogg notes. Be sure to seek professional help if you need it.
  5. To celebrate! Just like with good habits, it’s important to celebrate the small steps on the way to quitting a bad habit. Journal about it, tell your friends or post pictures – anything that can reinforce those happy feelings in your brain.

Go further: Top tips for creating good habits that last

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