How to... break a bad habit

Jan 09, 2009 By Alison Johnson

With New Year's resolutions still fresh, here's some advice from local therapists on putting bad habits to rest:

Make a list. Write down all of the reasons why you want to stop a certain behavior - how it's hurting you and why getting rid of it will help. Look at that list often.

Become more aware. Many habits are hard to break because they are unconscious impulses. Turn them into choices instead: Make a written or mental note every time you do something unwanted such as biting your nails or yelling at your kids.

Substitute other activities. It's easier to replace a bad habit than stop it. If you lose your temper often, for example, practice deep breathing or go for a walk.

Break it down. Think of the steps needed to shed a habit and tackle them one at a time. To stay motivated, keep your goals simple and realistic.

Reward yourself. Before you take on a bad habit, decide what you'll do to celebrate with every baby step you complete.

Remove temptations. If you overeat, keep junk food out of your house. If you crave cigarettes with coffee, switch to tea - and avoid smoky bars or friends who light up.

Be patient. Bad habits develop over years, so you likely won't be able to ditch them immediately. The average smoker, in fact, tries to quit about seven times before being successful.

Find support. Tell family and friends about your goal. If there's a local or online support group for people with your problem, join it.

Get help for addictions. Some habits, particularly substance abuse and smoking, involve a real physical or emotional dependency and may require professional attention.

___

© 2009, Daily Press (Newport News, Va.).
Visit dailypress.com, the World Wide Web site of the Daily Press at dailypress.com and on America Online at keyword "dailypress."
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Explore further: Treating ill health might not be enough to help homeless people get off the streets

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Hacker gets prison for cyberattack stealing $9.4M

2 hours ago

An Estonian man who pleaded guilty to orchestrating a 2008 cyberattack on a credit card processing company that enabled hackers to steal $9.4 million has been sentenced to 11 years in prison by a federal judge in Atlanta.

Remains of French ship being reassembled in Texas

3 hours ago

A frigate carrying French colonists to the New World that sank in a storm off the Texas coast more than 300 years ago is being reassembled into a display that archeologists hope will let people walk over ...

Icelandic volcano sits on massive magma hot spot

3 hours ago

Spectacular eruptions at Bárðarbunga volcano in central Iceland have been spewing lava continuously since Aug. 31. Massive amounts of erupting lava are connected to the destruction of supercontinents and ...

Magic Leap moves beyond older lines of VR

3 hours ago

Two messages from Magic Leap: Most of us know that a world with dragons and unicorns, elves and fairies is just a better world. The other message: Technology can be mindboggingly awesome. When the two ...

NBCUniversal settles with unpaid interns for $6.4M

4 hours ago

NBCUniversal will pay $6.4 million to settle a class action lawsuit brought by unpaid interns who worked on "Saturday Night Live" and other shows who claim they are owed wages, according to court documents.

Recommended for you

Study reveals state of crisis in Canadian foster care system

9 hours ago

A new study of foster care in Canada led by a researcher at Western University reveals a shrinking number of foster care providers are available across the country to care for a growing number of children with increasingly ...

Researchers prove the benefits of persimmons for diet

10 hours ago

Alba Mir and Ana Domingo, researchers from the Department of Analytical Chemistry of the University of Valencia, under the supervision of professors Miguel de la Guardia and Maria Luisa Cervera, from the same department, ...

Hand blenders used for cooking can emit persistent chemicals

10 hours ago

Eight out of twelve tested models of hand blenders are leaking chlorinated paraffins when used according to the suppliers' instructions. This is revealed in a report from Stockholm University where researchers analyzed a ...

User comments : 0