As the New Year looms and the excess of Christmas starts to set it many of us are thinking of ways to improve ourselves and our lives in the coming year. Whether it’s quitting an unhealthy habit like smoking or starting a new one like exercising there are certain things you can do to help break or make a habit that lasts. I gave up drinking in 2015 and here are some of my top tips:
This might sound obvious but if you are trying to break a habit then get whatever it is you are trying to quit out of the house. Completely. You might have to put up with protests from others in the house (particularly if you’re trying to get rid of junk food and the kids catch you!) but explain to them why you’re doing what you’re doing and how much you’d appreciate their help. This could be your chance to change everyone’s habits for the better.
Write It Down
Sit down and make a list of the reasons why you want to break a bad habit. It’s also helpful to ask yourself honest questions about why you think you developed your particular habit. What addition has it been to your life? Most likely none but it’s best not to ignore your fears about giving it up. For example many people believe that they won’t be able to relax without a cigarette or drink. If that’s you then dig deep and question how true your beliefs about your habit really are.
Put this list, as well as a little declaration about what you want to make or break, and stick them up somewhere that you have to pass every single day.
Often the habits we wish to break are those we consider to be a way of rewarding ourselves. If so then you should decide how you might do this in a healthier or more positive way. For example if you decide that you’re going to eat more healthily in 2016 but food was always your way of treating yourself then replace it with clothes, music, a beauty product etc that you’d like instead. Your new treat doesn’t have to be expensive but it does have to feel like a treat to you.
Finding support when breaking a habit is so important. You may find that some of your friends are making similar decisions about their own habits for the New Year. If you’re going to get fit and your best friend wants to do also then why not pair up and keep each other motivated? But if you don’t have someone else in the same boat then you may need to look a bit further afield. That’s where the internet can help because there are chatrooms, message boards and private facebook groups for just about everything these days. Connect with people on the same journey as you and you may well find you make some new friends too.
Just Keep Swimming
Keep it up. Even when you don’t want to. Even when something happens that upsets you and all you want to do is run back to your habit that comforted you so well in the past. The feeling will pass eventually and when you’ve made it through and changed your default response you will feel really great about yourself. You will. I promise.