Breaking Bad (Habits)

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Breaking Bad (Habits)

What’s your worst habit?

Do you think nuns have worst habits – least favorite ones? Like when that one comes out of the wash, they think, “Ugh, not this one again.”

Besides making really bad puns (you should hear the ones I don’t say out loud), I have this really bad habit of hitting snooze. A lot. I have to set my alarm 45-60 minutes earlier so I can sleep in 10 minute intervals for upwards of an hour before I get up. According to what I’ve read, this is a really bad way to wake up, but I continue to do it. Because sleep. And procrastination.
But I digress. Everyone has something they do that they wish they didn’t. If you don’t, you can save some time and stop reading.

The rest of us could use a little work in this area. First of all, how do we get a bad habit? Practice and repetition. How do we break a bad habit, then? Practice and repetition. In fact, the average time it takes to break a bad habit is about 2 months, but this varies from person to person (just like everything in our bodies).
Okay, let’s do this. We’ve got to start with reducing the stress in our lives. Take a look at your bad habits. How many of them are stress responses? Overeating, overspending, overdrinking… So we need to reduce our stress. “Sure, I’ll just go ahead right now and reduce my stress! Okay, done!” Yeah, much easier said than done. But we’ve talked about this. By now, you should all be well into your mindfulness practice and your stress should be significantly reduced anyway, right? RIGHT? *sigh*
Also, you gotta want it. If your friends and family are pressuring you to stop smoking, and you begrudgingly start a program to stop, you’re going to fail. If you have a personal motivation to really want to quit – maybe you just witnessed a relative suffer through lung cancer – then you have a much higher chance of succeeding.
People who replace the habit with another – better – habit also have a higher chance of succeeding. Sometimes just being conscious of what we’re doing and making an effort to curb that behavior has a huge benefit toward breaking it. I know I crave something sweet after dinner. Instead of having something chocolate cake-y, I keep clean grapes on hand and easily accessible. This is also why nicotine gum is more successful than a nicotine patch – going through the motions and having something similar to the habit you’re replacing is important.
Lastly, plan to mess up. Seriously. You’re going to be imperfect in your climb to breaking your bad habit. If you expect this and plan for it, you’ll be ready with some positive self-talk. Remember that everyone messes up. Everyone eats cake on their diet. Everyone takes two steps forward and then one step back – heck, sometimes it’s three steps back. The important thing to remember is that as long as you’re moving forward, you’re making progress for your health – and that’s always a good thing.
Here is a great (and recent) article on breaking habits. And you know I have a habit of linking to TED talks, so here’s a really popular (and very good) one on breaking habits.
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