Bad habits are hard to break, but one of the most difficult things about them is that they’re often not recognized as bad until it’s too late. A habit can be harmless in moderation, but if left unchecked for too long, that same habit can turn into an addiction or worse. Some habits are more difficult to break than others.
Constantly picking up bad habits can lead you down a dangerous path that will be hard to recover from. But with enough motivation, there is always hope for change.
Instead of fixing your bad habits one by one, try turning them into good ones! Here are 25 tips on how to turn your bad habits into healthy routines so you don’t have to worry about getting addicted and ruining your life – just living it.
Take a close look at the bad habit you want to eliminate.
Write down specifically how many times a day the bad habit occurs. Then write a specific goal for how often you want to engage in that behavior. For example, if you want to cut out smoking, maybe you’d like to reduce from three cigarettes a day to one every other day by this time next month.
Figure out what triggers your bad habit.
For example, if you smoke when you drink alcohol, try to avoid drinking altogether. Or if you always eat junk food when you’re bored, find an activity to keep yourself occupied instead.
Replace your bad habit with a good one.
If you can’t completely cut out a behavior, try replacing it with a healthier alternative. For example, if you can’t stop snacking in the evenings, try replacing unhealthy snacks with fruit or nuts.
Make a plan.
Write out a list of specific steps on how you’ll break the bad habit. Try to be as detailed as possible and include helpful internal reminders, such as “When I drink alcohol, I will have a glass of water afterwards” or “After dinner is over, I will immediately brush my teeth.”
Keep track of your progress by writing it down.
Create a journal dedicated entirely to breaking your bad habit – no crossing things out allowed! You can use this book for notes or even scrapbook-like pages with pictures and mementos from times you’ve succeeded in not engaging in the behavior. It might sound silly but having a tangible reminder of how far you’ve come could help motivate you to keep going when the going gets tough.
Tell your friends and family about your goal.
They can help you stay accountable, plus they might have some great ideas on how to help you out.
If there’s a certain place or person that always tempts you into engaging in the bad habit, try to avoid them as much as possible until you’ve successfully kicked the habit.
Make a list of reasons why you want to break the habit.
Keep this list with you at all times to read when you’re feeling tempted to give in. Some examples could be “I want to be healthy,” “I want to live a long life,” or “I don’t want my bad habit to control my life.”
Celebrate your victories!
No matter how small, every time you successfully resist the urge to engage in your bad habit, give yourself a pat on the back! This could mean taking yourself out for coffee, eating an extra piece of fruit, or just telling yourself “Good job!”
Acknowledge your slip-ups.
We’re human, and sometimes we’re going to mess up. Don’t beat yourself up over it – simply acknowledge that you made a mistake and then get back on track as soon as possible.
Visualize yourself successfully breaking the habit.
Close your eyes and picture yourself going a whole day without giving into the temptation to engage in your bad habit, or for five minutes if that’s easier. Imagine how proud you’ll feel, how great you’ll look & feel, and how much happier you’ll be!
Avoid any type of self-judgement.
Remember that you’re doing your best and that’s good enough! Don’t be too hard on yourself when you slip up – simply forgive yourself and move on.
Take a break if needed.
There will be times when it’s just too difficult to resist the temptation to engage in your bad habit. When this happens, take a break from trying to break the habit altogether and focus on other areas of your life for a while until you feel ready to tackle it again.
Reward yourself for your efforts.
Remember that you’ll need some motivation to keep going! Treat yourself every once in a while to help keep you on track and focused on your goal of kicking the habit.
Use positive self-talk (out loud or in your head) to encourage yourself.
For example, if you slip up, tell yourself “It’s okay.” Or when you are tempted to give into the urge, remind yourself “I don’t want this anymore!” over and over again until the craving passes.
Keep it simple!
Don’t try too hard – remember that slow & steady wins the race! Instead of trying to quit cold turkey, think about cutting back gradually by just one cigarette or just one piece of candy. Taking it slow is less overwhelming and will make the process feel more manageable.
Celebrate every little victory!
No matter how small, every time you resist the temptation to engage in your bad habit, be sure to give yourself a pat on the back. This could mean taking yourself out for tea, buying yourself flowers with the money you would have spent on cigarettes, or just telling yourself “Good job!”
Ditch your friends who encourage your bad habits.
If there are people in your life who really don’t support the changes you’re trying to make, consider finding new friends instead. You deserve to have a circle of people cheering you on & supporting you through this challenge!
Find healthy substitutes for your bad habit.
If you’re trying to break the habit of eating junk food, for example, try filling up on healthy snacks like fruits & vegetables, nuts & seeds, or whole grain crackers instead. The more variety you have in your diet, the less likely you are to crave unhealthy foods.
Remove any temptations from your environment.
This could mean getting rid of any cigarettes, candy bars, or alcohol in your house, or avoiding certain people who you know will tempt you.
Remember that it won’t be easy.
Break the habit of thinking that all habits are easy to break! Changing a bad habit into a good one takes time and perseverance – but in the end, it’s definitely worth it!
Write down your triggers for giving into the temptation of your bad habit.
This could be a certain time of day, a type of person, etc. Once you’ve identified what sets off the urge to indulge in your bad habit, work on finding ways to avoid or deal with those triggers instead.
Identify the benefits & payoffs of giving into your bad habit.
Simply acknowledging these can help you find other ways to meet those needs rather than engaging in the bad habit itself! This will help you eventually break that pattern and give up that unhealthy behavior for good!
Keep yourself busy when tempted.
If there’s nothing else available then engage in the bad habit but only as a last resort and NOT because you’re bored.
Seek professional help if needed.
There’s no shame in admitting that you need some extra support to break your bad habit! A therapist or counselor could help you identify the root of your problem and come up with a plan to address it head-on.
Breaking bad habits can be tough, but it’s definitely not impossible! With enough willpower and these 25 tips to turn your habits into healthy routines, you’ll be on your way to a better and healthier life in no time. Congratulations on making this important step towards self-improvement!