How to Change a Bad Habit

Do you have a bad habit you would like to change? We all have “bad” habits that we would like to change. Here are some tips on how to change a bad habit:

  1. Instead of focusing on breaking a bad habit, think about creating a new good habit. For example, instead of “I will stop eating junk food”, try “I will eat healthy food that has nutrients for my body”.
  2. Make sure you give yourself enough time. Studies show that it can take anywhere from three weeks to six months to create a new habit.
  3. Break down big changes into small steps. For example, instead of saying “I will quit smoking”, start with a small step like “instead of smoking a cigarette after dinner I will play with my dog”.
  4. Don’t worry about being perfect. I like the 80% rule – practice 80% of your good habits 80% of the time. You are still creating good habits!
  5. Have a plan for setbacks. If plan A to change a habit doesn’t work, what is your plan B? plan C?
  6. Track success. How will you track your progress? Visual tracking aides can be a big help – photos, spreadsheets, etc.
  7. Get support. This might be the most important one. Coaches are great in this role – there are health coaches, weight coaches, life coaches, smoking cessation coaches. A friend or family member can be a coach but – beware – if you have a relationship with your coach it can get complicated quickly!

Live Mentally Healthy,
Dr. Jennie Byrne

Author
Dr. Jennie Byrne, M.D., PhD. With over 15 years of medical expertise, Jennie Byrne, MD, PhD, is a board-certified psychiatrist with experience treating mental health conditions in adults, including dementia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, and depression. After practicing in New York City for 12 years, Dr. Byrne relocated to North Carolina in 2008; she currently cares for patients in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, at Cognitive Psychiatry of Chapel Hill. Dr. Byrne earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She then received her doctorate from New York University Department of Neurophysiology. She also has a doctorate of medicine from New York University School of Medicine. Dr. Byrne went on to complete a psychiatry residency at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York. In addition to her work as a psychiatrist, Dr. Byrne has performed extensive research on attention, memory, and depression. As a board-certified adult psychiatrist, Dr. Byrne focuses on the needs of each patient to pro

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