If you hear someone saying that humans are creatures of habits, they are totally right. We have habits even if we don’t realize them – and some of these are harmful to our health.
However, breaking your bad habits is possible – with hard work and dedication, and a strong power of will. Therefore, in the following paragraphs, we will teach you what is a habit, how do they work, and how to break them using various techniques.
What Does Habit Mean?
If we are to define habit, we can refer to it as a settled tendency or usual manner of behavior. In most of the cases, habits are involuntary – a habit is something that we do without being aware of it. That coffee you have every morning? You are probably not aware, on the spot, that every single day, at the same hour in the morning, you have your coffee – and that you prepare it the same way as well.
How Long Does It Take to Make a Habit?
When it comes to habit forming, a study conducted by Phillippa Lally has debunked a myth that originated from back in the 1950s, according to which it only takes 21 days to form a new habit.
If you believed in that myth and were wondering how many days to form a habit were required, we let you know – via the aforementioned study – that it’s not a matter of days, but months. To be more specific, it would take more than two months for you to develop a habit.
What Is Behavioral Psychology?
Behavioral psychology studies the connection between our minds and our behaviors. Through it, scientists are trying to understand why we behave in a certain way. They have also discovered plenty of patterns in our behaviors and actions – therefore behavioral psychology being closely linked to habits.
Via behavioral psychology, we found out how habits are formed. According to it, a habit and its forming are based on a reminder, a routine, and a reward. These three form a loop in which the habit happens, but only when it is triggered by something.
There are five things that can trigger our habits: time, location, a preceding event, our emotional state, and other people. Of course, these are pretty much self-explanatory. Why we do what we do? It’s because something reminds us to do so.
Basically, what we do all day could eventually trigger one of our habits – and given the fact that waking up triggers our habit to drink coffee, it’s safe to assume that this assumption is correct.
Power of Habits
When it comes to the power of habits, we must consider the types of habits that exist. Currently, there are three types of habits: motor habits, which are related to particular postures and physical actions; intellectual habits, which are those that require our intellectual abilities in order to perform a psychological process; and habits of character, which are those that are influenced by our morality, emotions, and feelings.
Of course, there are a lot of habits that are beneficial to our daily lives. For example, some have the habit of waking up in the morning at a certain time, without even needing an alarm. Even hard working is considered a type of habit – so not all of them are bad.
But most of the power of habits lies within the bad habits. Bad habit examples lists go as high as 283 habits, some of which are eating fast-food, smoking, biting our nails, sleeping in, and drinking coffee. These were only a few examples of habits that you might come across – as the list for good habits is big as well, counting more than 180 habits.
Given the aforementioned numbers, it’s safe to say that habits have a great power of influence over us – like, even Facebook and things related to technology are a habit nowadays, and a bad one as well.
“I Just Do What I Do When I Have Problems!”
This is a phrase you’ve probably heard many times from those friends of yours that have many bad habits in their lives. This is because, most of the times, bad habits are associated with stressful situations. Some say they smoke because they are stressed – they might be, but it’s more likely that their habit has kicked in and they just feel the urge to do it.
And this is what we do every single day – we live with our habits and don’t do anything to break them. By the way, we are talking about bad habits, not about feeling the urge to do your homework every day and wanting to escape it.
How to Break Your Bad Habits
Nowadays, students and the people that are in contact with environments close to a form or another of education are most prone to developing a bad habit.
Of course, the first category of people is in greater danger – as they are susceptible to nervous habits and personal habits that can be quite hard to give away for them. For example, those that must work during their studies will have a hard time sleeping even a long time after they graduate and get a normal day job.
Therefore, you need our help – and we are here to offer it to you. Following there are some ways through which you can break your bad habits once and for all.
- Have a different approach on bad habits – we don’t give up on a bad habit because it can offer us some sort of satisfaction when we need it the most; at that time, we don’t think at the effects it can have on our bodies. To break them, you could take notes of the way a certain habit harms you and read them when you find yourself doing it.
- Come up with an If-Then plan – find the things that trigger your bad habits; when one of them occurs, you should train yourself to step away from the bad habit and do something else. This will help you make a new routine and forget about that one bad habit.
- Set Reminder for the Future – if you know exactly when you are going to rely on a bad habit to get some sort of satisfaction, you could set up alarms and reminders 5 to 10 minutes before the moment they happen. This can help you realize the dangers they pose to you and quit them.
- Prepare Thoroughly – the last, and the most important thing you can do to break your bad habits is to do a lot of research on them. Specifically, have a period of one month before trying to break a habit in which you will analyze every aspect of it – when it occurs, what triggers it, how does it manifest and so on. This will help you come up with a proper plan of action.
Following these four simple steps – and a few others if needed – will help you understand yourself more, on one hand, and break your bad habits entirely. It will be hard the first couple of weeks, but it is not an impossible task.