5 Tips To Help You Kick Your Bad Habits

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Making Your Resolutions Stick … For Good

BY NATALIE KATALINIC

Change doesn’t have to be daunting

Is there something you want to change in your life? Maybe you want to stop smoking, exercise more, leave work on time, get better at saying no, or get control of your midnight chocolate biscuit binges.

Changing engrained habits can be daunting, but don’t let that stop you. Change IS possible, even if you’ve tried and ‘failed’ before. It’s a matter of getting your approach right. Let us help you get started. Get control of your bad habits with these 5 tips.

Tip # 1: List Your Pros And Cons

Making a pros and cons list is helpful for a number of different reasons. If you keep it nearby (your wallet’s a good place to keep it handy), it can strengthen your resolve to stick to your goals during hard periods by reminding you why you decided to change in the first place. A pros and cons list can also help you to have a clear idea of why your habit is so hard to break. This can be validating and help you manage the hard parts of change.

Tip #2: Don’t Just Remove An Old Habit, Add A New One

You can’t drop a long-held habit without a new replacement behaviour to soften the blow. Think about what need your habit meets, and reflect on how you can meet your needs in a different way. Say you know that you binge on biscuits because it’s how you unwind at the end of the day. Find other ways to meet this need – schedule time for relaxation, learn to meditate, or take up regular exercise.

Tip #3: Surf Your Urges

Urges are part of our emotional experience. It’s impossible to break a habit without feeling the urge to maintain it. When you notice this urge, mindfully observe and curiously explore what the urge feels like in your body. Notice where in your body you feel the urge and how it changes moment to moment. Taking a step back and noticing your sensations (rather than automatically responding to them) gives you the space to choose not to respond to them. If surfing your habit urge feels too hard to start with, practice surfing other urges. Try putting a piece of chocolate in your mouth and refraining from chewing or moving it around for 3 minutes. Notice the urge to eat it while also noticing that this urge lessens in intensity after a while.

Tip #4: Distract Yourself

Sometimes, even after urge surfing you might still feel a strong impulse to fall back into old habits. If this is a problem, temporarily distract yourself for 5-10 minutes. Take on a task (e.g., cleaning a room); do a Sudoku puzzle; play a game on your phone or computer – anything that requires your full attention. When your 10 minutes is up, check in with yourself. If the urge is still strong, do another activity. Keep repeating this process this until the urge lessens – it will pass eventually!

Tip #5: Enlist Support

Get support from friends, family, online forums – anywhere you can. It’s easier to stick with something if you feel accountable to someone else. If your buddy has the same goal as you, even better. You can encourage each other along the way.

Natalie is a warm and compassionate registered psychologist with a Masters of Clinical Psychology degree who is experienced in various evidence-based therapeutic modalities, including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). She specialises in working with adults and teens experiencing major depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, borderline personality disorder, grief and loss, identity concerns, relationship difficulties, and stressful life events in general.


 

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