Christine Holmberg, MFT
How can tell if a habit is bad for you? Unhealthy or “bad habits” can disrupt your life, sometimes even without you knowing it is happening. Bad habits can divert you from achieving your goals and can even threaten your mental or physical health.
Bad habits usually feel good in the moment but leave us feeling worse in the long run. That shouldn’t be a cause for concern though. We’ve all got a habit or two that we could be better off without.
Bad habits can be picked up quickly. Habits are behaviors that have formed through repetition. They become routine or automatic, much like brushing your teeth before bed.
Habits are imprinted in the neural pathways of our brains, which can make old ones hard to break and new ones even harder to start.
The good news is it doesn’t mean we are servants to our bad habits for life. Reaching for a second, third or fourth cookie, or other indulgences of some kind, wasn’t a habit the first time you did it.
Overindulgence can become a habit through repetition, just like other excessive behaviors. It’s through repetition that new and healthy habits can be formed to replace the old ones.
Expect it will take some time and effort to achieve your desired results. Remember, you are creating new neural pathways in your brain, after all.
So, let’s get down to business! How do you break bad habits? Here are three tips for effecting positive change:
- Create reasonable and specific goals to break the habit you want to change. The clearer you are when it comes to your goals, the better. Get specific.
- Learn your triggers and think about your surrounding environment. If you are more likely to binge on food while watching television, try reading a book or meeting a friend for coffee instead of watching TV. You want your environment to support and not hinder your goals.
- Enlist your support system to help. Let the people who care about you know what it is you are working on. The chances are good that they’ll be a cheerleader for you. Meet new friends who share similar goals and interests (i.e. join a support group for losing weight).
Remember, changing bad habits into healthier ones takes time, patience and effort. Expect to have some slip-ups and be kind to yourself when you do. We’re here for you at Treehouse if you need more support!