5 Ways to Successfully Break a Bad Habit For The New Year
The New Year is a time for great personal changes and life-makeovers ... which is why gyms are completely flooded with new arrivals in January, and why fresh fruit and vegetables fly off the shelves right around the same time that the guilt starts setting in from the Christmas binge eating extravaganza.
But when it comes to New Year's Resolutions, quitting your bad habits is just as important as picking up new, positive ones — whether that means visiting a recovery center to deal with a substance addiction, or simply installing an ad blocker so that you spend less time on Facebook.
So, for the sake of a prosperous and healthy year ahead, here are some tips for quitting your bad habits this New Year.
1. Don’t Leave a Void, Trade The Habit For Something Else
Habits don’t just disappear into thin air when we cut them out of our lives, they leave a void — a gap, which has its own kind of gravitational pull and which tries to pull things in to fill it.
If you don’t replace your bad habit with something that does a good job of filling the gap, don’t be surprised if you find yourself relapsing, or picking up some equally unhealthy habit to deal with the lack.
The thing(s) you fill the gap with should do a good job of bringing you some of the same positive feelings and familiar rituals you got from the original habit. Like, if your bad habit was browsing too many gossip sites in the evening, you could aim to replace the habit with a new novel reading obsession.
2. Be Prepared For an Energy And Mood Slump
No matter how well you prepare yourself mentally and physically, you’re likely to experience some real side effects when quitting a negative habit.
These side effects could be directly linked to the withdrawals from a chemical addiction, or they could simply be the irritation and boredom that come with giving up a familiar way of killing time or getting some cheap amusement in during the day.
The best thing to do is to keep these side effects in mind and plan accordingly for them. Maybe you should hold off on quitting your habit for a week or so if you’re in the middle of a major, critical project at work. Maybe you should move your schedule around so that you have a few extra hours a night to dedicate to sleeping and feeling well-rested, which will, in turn, make you more emotionally resilient during the day. Or, maybe you should just stock up on your favorite brand of coffee in advance, since you may be relying on it a lot more than usual.
3. Be Kind to Yourself
When you’re quitting a deeply embedded habit, your big, high-effort priority should be breaking that habit, and that alone. To make sure that you’re successful with this, you’re going to want to be as kind to yourself as possible in the other areas of your life.
Feel the urge to binge watch Netflix after work but feel like you should be doing something productive instead? Just enjoy the shows. Feel no motivation to keep a healthy meal in the evening, and find yourself reaching for a ready meal? Go for it.
As long as you’re sticking to your resolve of distancing yourself from the negative habit, let the other stuff slide for the time being.
There are only so many things you can dedicate your time and attention to optimising in your life at any one time, and all of them take a toll on your willpower. When you’re working on a major goal which has the ability to affect your health, focus, energy, and life in a serious way, it pays to give yourself the best fighting chance by being kind to yourself in every other area.
Once you’ve overcome this challenge, you can see what else in your life needs to be fixed up.
4. Taper Down Before Quitting Completely
Quitting anything cold turkey is hard. To quit any negative habit or pattern of behavior successfully, it’s often a good idea to try and taper down your engagement with the habit before completely dropping it.
If you find that you waste an average of 2 hours a day idly surfing the web, for example, you may be horrified at the wasted time and feel that starting tomorrow you have to have that number at 0 wasted hours or minutes.
But is that realistic? Is it sustainable?
All habits are about familiarity and becoming accustomed to a thing on a deep level. First become accustomed to doing something less, then quit it altogether. You’ll find it’s much easier.
5. Try Holistic Therapies
Traditional holistic medicine techniques ranging from acupuncture to different types of massage have been used for many years in helping to treat withdrawal symptoms from addiction, as well as stress, tension, anxiety, and irritation.
The last thing you want to do when kicking one bad habit is to end up adopting a worse one in order to deal with it.
See what holistic treatments are available in your area or online, and see whether a more natural approach might help you out.
*This post was contributed to littlefoolbook by an anonymous author.
*Feature image via Instagram.