How to Overcome Bad Habits that Jeopardize Your Health
Changing bad habits is no small undertaking, says everyone who has ever broken a bad habit. Whether you want to get out of the bed earlier to hit the gym, or overhaul your diet, it all takes persistence. If you are trying to break bad habits, here's what you need to know.
Basic Strategies for Habit Change
Bad habits - no matter how often you do them - can be broken. Listed are actions you must commit to in order to kiss your bad habits "goodbye".
- Strive for awareness. To change a behavior, you must take the time to observe it first. Figure out the "what".
- Log the behavior. When humans, write down their behaviors, they become more aware of them, and more likely to change them. Look for patterns or stimuli that cause the behavior. Make a list of pros and cons of the behavior. Then, spend a week logging the "when", "where", "why", and "how" you're doing it.
- Find a replacement. Successful habit change requires finding a healthy behavior to use instead. Once you know the "when", "where", "why", and "how", you can brainstorm better choices. For example, if you notice you tend to binge eat when you're bored or sad, you might create a list of healthier behaviors for you to do during these times, such as calling a friend, taking a walk, or selecting a healthy snack.
Where You Are in the Change Process
It's also important to know that habit change does not happen overnight. Author James Prochaska, a Professor of Psychology and Director of the Cancer Prevention Research Center at the University of Rhode Island, describes the process of change as being six steps. He cautions that you may go back and forth through different steps before fully breaking a habit. See if you can identify which step you are in.
- Pre-contemplation. Denial or avoidance of the problem, thinking that others who point it out are exaggerating.
- Contemplation. Ambivalent to change, but slowly recognizing the problem for what it is. Consider pros and cons of the behavior.
- Preparation. The prospect of change becomes favorable. Make a realistic plan to break the habit, considering all variables.
- Action. Implement the action plan and adjust it accordingly for desired effects.
- Maintenance. Developing completely new patterns of behavior and sustaining them long-term. May relapse in the face of temptation before this stage becomes permanent.
- Termination. The temptation to return to the old habit is no longer present.
Need to break a bad health habit? The staff at Metabolic Research Center can help. Contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation about restoring your health and wellness.
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