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How to make or break a habit

nail biting

nail bitingWe are creatures of habit; sometimes the habits that we form can be a positive thing, but there are some habits we would rather have disappear. So what’s the best way to make or break a habit?

Start off small

Train yourself to change or add new habits by picking two or three small specific habits you would like to create. They should be easy and require very little willpower to achieve them. Examples of this could be:

“Every morning after I get up, I will do 5 minutes of stretching”

“At my morning tea breaks, I will drink a full glass of water”

If you can link your habits in to a specific action in your day, you can create yourself a little sequence so you know that when you do your usual action, you need to do your new habit straight afterwards.

Give yourself a time frame (such as two weeks) and if you manage to achieve these habit goals for that period, give yourself a little reward to keep you motivated such as a new item of clothing or treat yourself to a movie night out. Once you’ve achieved a few mini goals, you can start building on them by adding a couple of new ones to work towards or aim bigger.

What’s the best way to form a new habit?

Repetition, repetition, repetition! A habit is something that you do all the time, without thinking about it. If you want to form a new habit, you should aim to do it in a way that’s easily repeatable.

If you make a conscious effort to do something in the same way/at the same time/in the same place, you are more likely to create a behavioural pattern that you will eventually no longer need to think about.

Leave yourself notes on your fridge or on your computer desktop; reminders of why you are trying to create or break your habit and positive affirmations to help keep you on track.

How do I break a habit I no longer want?

Habits can be difficult to break as they are already ingrained in your mind. As habits are created by repetition, you will need to break that repetition in order to to break your habit. Substitution is a great starting point, for example, rather than smoking a cigarette, try chewing gum instead.

Asking others to help you out or making them hold you accountable for your actions can sometimes be a great motivator. Whether it’s assigning a workmate as a ‘lunch gatekeeper’ to look after your lunch and prevent you from eating it all at morning tea, or giving your friend your credit card to stop you hitting another sale!

Or you could just tell them what you’re trying to do so they will continue to ask how you’re going with your habit change (or remind you to stop when you’re doing your habit without realising it, such as biting your nails).

How long will it take to make or break my habit?

Studies have shown it usually takes between four to six weeks to make or break a habit, so if you can make your new behaviour last that long, it’s more likely to stay that way in the future.

Image / FreeDigitalPhotos.net -africa

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