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

Dr. Jennie Byrne, M.D., PhD.

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