Monday, September 29, 2014

5 Powerful Steps to Reprogram Your Brain to Ditch Bad Habits

Habits are an inevitable part of human nature. Whether good or bad, everybody has a few tendencies that they act upon on a daily basis. Humans have biological tendencies to comfort themselves with familiarity, but at the same time a balance of novelty is necessary for contentment. When the comfort is found in harmful habits, such as smoking, drinking, low self-esteem and laziness (as well as other bad health habits), it becomes a self-defeating crutch that gets worse over time.

There are ways you can trick your brain to ditch bad habits. First it helps to understand why habits form to begin with. When something begins to have a regular presence in your life, the neural pathways in your brain grow increasingly familiar with that comfort. The steps below help you break down those pathways and use neuroplasticity to replace them with good ones. 

Step 1: Admit the habit and make a goal
Denial is basically fuel for bad habits. People might know exactly what their bad habits are but never face them and admit flaws. Write your habit on a piece of paper and list a few reasons it’s negative for you.

(Example): Habit: Waking up past noon
  • I get behind on all the housework
  • There’s little to no time for leisure
  • There’s hardly any time to prepare for work
  • I’m restless until late hours of the night
It will be much easier to ditch a bad habit if you’re consciously recognizing the cause of your daily inconveniences. After you’ve acknowledged it, you should also set a goal. The person in the example above might have an overall goal of waking up before 9 a.m. on the weekdays. 

Step 2: Find your habit triggers

Habits are tied in with plenty of factors. If you’re trying to ditch a habit, consider the things that cause the habit. The person listed above that sleeps in too much might be drinking coffee at night or playing video games past midnight. A smoker might grab a cigarette because they’re bored and don’t have any hobbies to resort too (if you are smoker – try these 5 natural ways to stop smoking). If you’re doing the habit you want to ditch, consider the factors that lead to the habit and structure your schedule to avoid them.

In many cases this is easier said than done, the triggers of bad habits are often difficult to pinpoint and simply avoid all together. Here it’s important to stay mindful of the negative results of a habit; without a desire for change, changing your neural pathways is nearly impossible.

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