We all know we are far from perfect, but even the best of us may have some bad habits. Breaking bad habits such as smoking, overspending, snacking at midnight, biting your nails or binge drinking is not easy. To break a bad habit it requires us first to analyze what causes it and then create a solution to address the trigger.

Bad habits can prevent you from accomplishing your goals, or they may be damaging your mental and physical health. They can also sap your confidence and sense of self-worth. Instead of “giving up” a bad habit, think about it as replacing it with something more positive.

What Causes Bad Habits?

Most bad habits are triggered by two things: stress and boredom. A stressful job or family situation may make you start smoking, mindlessly watch TV, overeating or chewing your fingernails. Discover what the triggers are for your habits and try to change the situation.

For example, learn relaxation techniques or take up yoga to help relieve stress. Exercise is always a good antidote to tension, so join a gym, start jogging, swimming or cycling. Breaking bad habits starts by first removing the cause. For example:

  • If you bite your nails out of boredom, take up a hobby that occupies your hands, such as knitting, crafts or jewelry making.
  • If TV is an excuse for overeating, then opt for reading or writing instead.
  • If the friends you socialize with lead to binge drinking, then start to cultivate new friendships and see less of your old buddies.
  • If snacking on chocolate and cookies is causing you to have a weight problem, then give them away and buy only healthy replacement snacks such as fresh fruit or individual portions of nuts.



Breaking Bad Habits is Easier with Support

Confiding in a friend or partner means that you have acknowledged you have a problem and want to do something about it. It’s an important step toward breaking bad habits. Ask that friend to help you avoid the triggers you have identified and help to make you aware of when you are slipping back, often subconsciously, into old habits.

Having a friend for support who understands and wants the best for you is important as there will be times when you slip up. If you can find a friend who is struggling to break the same bad habits, such as smoking or overeating, you can support each other. Knowing that someone else expects something better of you can be a powerful motivator for breaking bad habits.

By following the three steps of analyzing the cause, finding a substitute activity and enlisting a friend’s support, you will find you have the strength and willpower for breaking bad habits and starting anew.