Search

Ready to change your life?Start Now! Contact Us

Five Tips for Breaking Bad Habits

February 21, 2023

Learn how noticing when your habits become automatic, identifying daily triggers, and practicing mindful awareness can help you transform habits into choices.

Tip #1: Notice When Your Habits Have Become Automatic

Most of the time, when we engage in unhealthy habits, we do it automatically. In fact, our minds are generally preoccupied with thinking of something else while we pick up a cigarette, finish off a bag of chips, have that extra drink of alcohol, or settle on the couch to watch TV rather than go for a walk.
Automatic behaviors are largely unconscious, meaning we don’t think about them. We often don’t even notice that we are doing them.

Tip #2: Practice Mindful Awareness

Some people find they can stop an unhealthy habit cold turkey. For most of us, though, it takes a conscious process over time. The first step in this process is to practice mindful awareness. Because these habits largely occur automatically and unconsciously, we need to regain our ability to notice and to be present with what we are doing, when we are doing it, and without self-judgment or criticism.

Without changing the unhealthy habit pattern, we simply bring awareness to it. We smoke the entire cigarette or eat the whole bag of chips while being present with the activity and the sensations or what we are doing. It’s almost as if we subconsciously push our awareness aside and do not notice when we do something that conflicts with our values or what we most want for our health and well-being.

Many people find that simply deciding to engage in the habit with full awareness lessens the frequency and duration of their unhealthy patterns. By turning back around with a kind and compassionate awareness, we can notice the full experience of the habit in which we are engaged.

Tip #3: Identify Daily Triggers

Our habits are often tied to the events of our day. For example, we pick up a cigarette after a meal or as we get into the car, eat more food than we really want or need while conversing, and settle on the couch to watch TV simultaneously every day after work.

Tip #4: Become Aware of Emotional Triggers

In addition to being tied to everyday events, these habits are often tied to emotional triggers. We eat when sad, angry, depressed, lonely, bored, or excited. We tend to grab a drink or a cigarette in the same way.

Tip #5: Ride the Urge Wave

Eventually, with practice, we urge to engage in the habit even before we do it. Noticing the urge and learning to ride the wave of discomfort when an urge develops gives us time to choose to engage in the habit. We can experience the urge without engaging in the habit when we know this.
The mind seeks pleasure and avoids pain as a survival mechanism. The problem is that the mind often focuses on the short-term pain of not giving in to an urge.

SUGGESTED POSTS

5 Mind-Body Techniques to Lower Anxiety During Stressful Situations

In our fast-paced world, stress is an inevitable part of life. Whether it's work deadlines, personal obligations, or unexpected challenges, we all face moments of anxiety. However, managing anxiety is crucial for our mental and physical well-being. Fortunately, several mind-body techniques can help us navigate stressful situations more efficiently and ...

READ MORE

Having a Hard Time Achieving Your Goals? Try This One Thing

Embarking on a journey towards better health is commendable, but connecting your health goals to a broader health vision becomes even more powerful. Your health vision serves as a guiding light, a roadmap that helps you navigate the complexities of daily choices and setbacks. In this blog post, we'll explore ...

READ MORE

The Scoop on Saunas: Benefits and Precautions

What Is a Sauna? A sauna is a small room or space that produces heat, typically using hot rocks, steam, or infrared heaters. The temperature inside a sauna can range from 150°F to over 200°F. People sit or lie in a sauna to enjoy its therapeutic effects, including sweating and relaxation. ...

READ MORE
BACK TO POSTS

For more information about

Duke Integrative Medicine and our various services and programs, please join our mailing list.


error: Content is protected !!